- Saving Tony
- Discussion - Child Abuse
- Fix It
Patrick Sheppard recognized the timid voice on the other end of the line. Which was good, since the call came through on his family-only number. “Tony? How are you doing, kiddo?”
There was a pause where the boy weighed his words, it made Patrick’s gut clench.
“Scared,” the -Eleven? Twelve? Two years younger than Dave and a year older than Sophie so, twelve. The twelve year old admitted.
“Why are you scared, Tony?”
“I don’t know where my father is. We came to Hawaii a week ago and, and his bags are gone. They were here yesterday, I saw them, but now they’re gone and I can’t find him.”
“Okay, have you tried calling him?”
“Yeah, but no one’s picking up.”
“Alright. Here is what we are going to do. I have a friend in Hawaii. His name is John McGarrett. He’s my best friend. We went to the Naval Academy and were in the Navy together. Your cousin John is named for him. Okay?”
“I’m going to call him and have him come get you. Then I’m going to call you back and talk to you until he has you, okay?”
“Okay, can you find out what happened to my father?”
“You bet I will, kiddo.”
Emma Sheppard was on a mission.
When she walked in to his office to call her husband to dinner, she’d been pleased to hear him talking to Tony, her little sister’s son. She had been confused when immediately upon hanging up, Patrick called his best friend rather than acknowledge her entry and kiss her cheek like he normally would. But then, then, she listened to the story Patrick related to John about how the last piece of her twin had been abandoned in Hawaii for god fucking knows why.
Now she was furious. And on a mission.
Before Patrick was halfway through his conversation, she had her personal assistant pack for a three-day trip for her husband. Then she got on the phone with Sheppard Aeronautical and had the family jet prepared for immediate departure to Hawaii.
Patrick was on leave for another two weeks, so that wouldn’t be a problem.
On second thought, she called the family lawyer to get an emergency custody order filed for Tony. It wouldn’t do to be accused of kidnapping, now would it? She also had corporate security start looking into that bastard DiNozzo. She needed to know where he was, what he was doing, and why that was more important than his son. On the one hand, she hoped he was in a hole somewhere for Tony’s sake and on the other, she hoped he wasn’t so she could help put him there. A hole that had bars, high walls, and the kind of group showers that DiNozzo would never escape, preferably.
Patrick was back on the phone with Tony -thankfully this time using the monstrously hideous cell phone that he wanted and she swore they would never need- when she bundled Patrick into the waiting car to the airport.
“Mom?” John, Dave, and Sophie were clustered behind her when she turned, looking utterly confused.
Dinner. Right. She forgot. “Dad had to go pick up cousin Tony. He’ll be back in a few days.”
“His leave isn’t canceled?”
“Nope.” By the time she got them all back into the dining room the food was ruined, but that was the problem with fussy formal dinners. And of course the kids’ good manners meant no one had eaten.
Oh, well. Nothing for it. “Pizza?”
When Patrick Sheppard hit the ground in Hawaii, there were three men waiting for him. Two in suits and the third, younger man in a police uniform so neat and shiny it would make a Marine envious.
“Chin Ho Kelly,” the uniform greeted him with a firm handshake, “McGarrett asked me to bring you to his place.”
“That’s appreciated, thanks.”
Kelly nodded to him and stepped back to signal the airport attendants to bring Patrick’s bag. Patrick turned to the other two.
“Mike Ingram,” Suit One introduced himself, “SI Corporate Security. Your wife had us look into DiNozzo.”
“And? Where is the bastard?”
Ingram checked his watch, “Teeing off with a French trade authority he’s trying to pocket.” The man handed him a briefcase. “Everything we’ve found so far, including the suppressed original report indicating DiNozzo was driving when his wife died, and records for your nephew since.”
Suit Two stepped forward and gave him a small bow, “Yamada Takashi, I am contracted with Fairbanks and Lorne to handle local issues for their firm. The emergency custody request has been granted. The judge is tentatively willing to award full custody to yourself and your wife upon request by DiNozzo or conviction of wrong doing. Thanks to the information provided by young DiNozzo’s statement and Ingram’s people, an arrest warrant has been issued for DiNozzo the elder in regards to child abuse and neglect.”
Not that that would do much with the man in France, but Patrick was confident he could get DiNozzo back to the islands voluntarily. He just had to say the right things, wave a little money around, and the man would come running.
“Thank you, gentlemen.”
Both suits nodded and left. Patrick climbed into an SUV with Kelly. Twenty minutes and the young officer was leading him into John’s house without knocking.
A quick hug with his best friend and Patrick couldn’t not ask any more, “Tony?”
John laughed softly and waved him through to the back porch. There, Tony was planted in the middle of a large hammock with Steve, Mary Anne, and another little girl about Mary Anne’s age, all sleeping in a pile under a sprawled out floof of a dog.
“Should I…?” Kelly started forward but John waved him off.
“Kono’s fine. We’ll get her home in the morning, and if you move Barkus right now we’ll never get them back to sleep.”
Kelly nodded and John got him out of the house without really seeming to try. Patrick just stood there and watched the impromptu slumber party. He couldn’t even imagine where Tony’s head was right now, but the distraction of other kids and, of course, the dog was probably the best thing John could have done for him.
“He’s a great older brother,” John said conspiratorially as he re-entered the room. “Cunning and clever enough to be fun, but not mean in anyway. Patient with the littler ones. If things were different…”
Patrick frowned at his friend’s sigh, “John?”
John looked at him, frowned mightily, and then looked back at the kids, “I have something unreasonable to ask of you.”
“Take Steve with you to Virginia.”
Uh, what? “John?”
“Just for a few weeks, I’ve him signed up for a boarding school on the mainland, just keep him until that starts.”
“She and Doris are going to California to live with Doris’s mom.”
That’s.. not good. “And why, exactly, are you scattering your targets?”
His best friend huffed. The tone of it was so familiar Patrick almost laughed at him on reflex.
“I stumbled into something bad, Pat,” John answered eventually, “Worse than I could have imagined. I’m going to have to distance myself from even Chin and- I need to know my family is safe.”
“Alright.” He should totally ask Em first, but she had just expressed her upset that she got her tubes tied after Sophie and how she wanted another kid or two. Tony and Steve, that was two. “I’ll take him. You sure you don’t want to give him a few days to say goodbye?”
“I’d rather he not fly alone, and he knows I’ve been looking at mainland schools for him. We’ll have a family dinner before you go and it’ll be fine.”
Patrick just nodded, “I would hold off on the school. Em will probably insist he go to the kids’ school and we’ll owe her a forfeit for springing this on her.”
John just smirked and laughed silently at him.
He looked back at the puppy pile to see Tony looking up at him in a sleepy daze.
“Hey kiddo,” Patrick moved forward and ghosted a hand through Tony’s hair, “I’m here. Sleep now, we’ll talk in the morning.”
Patrick pulled John back in the house as Tony breathed out a not-quite snore, and led the older man over to the briefcase he left on the dining room table, “Come on, let’s see if they found anything actionable.”
“He brought his son to negotiate with the Yakuza.”
“That’s not even the worst, Em,” Patrick gripped the phone and forced himself to slow his words, forced himself to regulate his pace. “There is a picture of Tony with this so-called businessman’s son, having surfing lessons, and in the background you can quite clearly see a bodyguard holding an uzi.” Em made a sound like she had been stabbed, and Patrick smiled mirthlessly. It really was not amusing. “I have no idea how that asshole wasn’t arrested for brandishing, but the judge signed off on the custody papers so fast I’m surprised he didn’t burn himself.”
“He’s a terrible man, Patrick.”
He nodded even though she couldn’t see it. If there was something horrible, DiNozzo Senior had tried it. Usually twice, but thankfully, as far as they could tell, it had only been in the four years since his wife’s death, so Tony’s exposure should be minimal to non-existent.
Other than this damn trip.
“I don’t see how he’s going to get anything other than the death penalty.”
His delicate little lady-wife snorted, “Someone will cut him a deal, for information if nothing else.”
“Rolling on these people would just be a different kind of death penalty.”
“It really couldn’t happen to a better man,” Em said breezily.
Patrick couldn’t say he disagreed, it was the possibility of collateral damage that was worrying him. “He’s flying back to Hawaii now, the locals are going to meet him at the airport and take him in. Once he’s in custody, we’ll be gone.”
“And you didn’t have to promise him anything?”
“Didn’t even talk to him. The FBI decided to be honest, but low-ball things. HPD called him about abandoning Tony,” Patrick sighed. “He expected them to just throw Tony on a plane for him, if you can believe that.”
Em was quiet for a while, probably sorting through the vicious things she wanted to say, but wouldn’t because a phone call just wasn’t private enough for her to do so.
“The custody paperwork is all sorted?” was what she settled on.
“Full custody for Tony and physical custody for Steve,” he confirmed.
“This is why we can never get a dog, you realize? I sent you out for one boy and you’re bringing me home two.”
Patrick just laughed, openly and without reserve. It was horrible because it was true.
“Boys are, of course, more important and harder to legally obtain than a dog, so I can’t honestly imagine the number of dogs we would end up with. Or cats, can you imagine? I’d send you and the boys out for a cat and you’d come back with a tiger. John and David would come home riding shotgun in the trucks with the lion and jaguar just because you decided we needed the complete set. What a nightmare.”
“That’s hardly the complete set,” he countered with a grin. “What about a mountain lion? Or a bob cat? Sophie would love a leopard. No, make that a snow leopard. She’d be thrilled. We would never get her out of the house without it.”
This time Em laughed at him, “And she’d name it something ridiculous with too many syllables. Like Mephistopheles or Cleopatra-Diana.”
“And she’d insist on us using the whole name rather than shortening it,” he agreed.
“Though, now that I think on it, the pond in the back might be a nice place for swans or something. Hmm, actually. Patrick, in all seriousness, how do you feel about horses?”
“I love you,” he informed her on a laugh.
“Horses, Patrick. Horses.”
Emma Sheppard watched her nephew paint with equal parts pain and pleasure. In the weeks he came to live with them she’d been encouraging Tony to take back the parts of himself his biological donor had tried so fervently to stomp out. It had been her privilege to see Tony blossom, but it was also her great pain to realize how he’d been so stunted.
It took him a week of her playing her violin more than she had since primary to get him to sit down at the piano, but once he did it was honestly like getting part of Claire back.
His excitement when she’d offered him violin lessons was something completely new and 100% Tony, though, and she wouldn’t trade that for anything.
Then the sketches had started. And, after a timid request for materials, came the painting.
The figure he was painting -the one he’d been constantly painting- looked like her but she knew in her bones it was Claire. There was a light sort of breeziness to the woman that Em knew she had never managed a single day in her life, but it was so accurate for the Claire she grew up with. She didn’t think that that particular Claire had been alive for Tony to see, much less capture so perfectly, but she was glad to be wrong.
The level and variety of talent in her nephew was startling, but she was glad to see it. She desperately wanted to watch and help it grow.
His dedication on recreating his mother was slightly worrying. She remained the only thing he had painted or drawn in weeks, but well, maybe he has a goal? Or maybe he was just still mourning?
It wasn’t like his Sperm Donor let him attend her funeral.
Tony set down his brush and looked up at her, “You said grandfather is coming?”
With a nod she walked into the room, “Your grandfather Jeffery and grandfather Alfredo.”
“And Grandpa Jeffery will be here for our birthday?” At her nod, he stared at the painting and said almost too softly for her to hear, “It should be finished in time.”
She sat down on the piano bench, “This painting is for my father?”
“Yeah, I-” Tony broke off, frowning and ducking his head.
When he didn’t continue she decided not to push. She decided to change the subject, “Come here a moment, I’d like to discuss something with you.” Tony sat down on the bench beside her and readily tipped into her body when she lifted her arm for him to fit there. “So, you know your father is a bad man.”
Tony nodded, “He’s going to jail.”
“Right. So you have some choices to make. We all want you. Me and Uncle Patrick, Uncle Clive, Uncle Edmund, Grandpa Jeffery. Even your Uncle Vincenzo and Grandpa Alfredo want to take you in. So we’ve all agreed that it’s best to let you decide. You don’t need to decide right now, but remember no matter who you pick you can always visit the others on your holidays, all you have to do is ask. Alright?”
Tony nodded again and smirked in his shy, charming little way, “I’ll think about it, but I think I want to stay here with you and Sophie and Dave and-” He looked away and huffed.
He didn’t name John, probably because the 16 year old never made much time for him, but he didn’t mention Steve either, and she knows that is because of the rivalry the two boys have going on. Almost the exact same age, both going through painful family separations, and rather than uniting-
Well, no, that wasn’t right. They were definitely united, but it was more that they were united in besting each other, united in taking opposite sides in every argument specifically to drive everyone around them mad.
Best friends in the making, no doubt.
“There is a second issue. It is not necessarily dependant on the first, but you might wish it to be.” Tony looked at her in confusion. “We’d like to adopt you. Now, like I said, this can be independent of who you live with. It’s more about sharing the responsibility if, say, you decide to stay with Patrick and I but allow my father or one of my brothers to adopt you. It’s also allows you to leave your father’s last name behind, if that’s something you want.”
Tony was imprinted with a horrible collection of ‘DiNozzo’s don’t‘s. Hopefully, if he left behind DiNozzo-hood he’d have a better time settling and finding out who he was.
“I could be a Paddington? Like mom?”
Emma Sheppard nodded. “You could. You could even grow up in our old house, if you want.”
Tony was silent for a long time but she didn’t push, she just sat there with him cuddled up to her side. Eventually, he pushed himself upright and spun on the bench to face the piano, “I’ll think about it.” And he started to play.