If the Left One Don't Get Ya

Tony DiNozzo was a night-owl. He only got up early on Saturday mornings when he was meeting someone or Gibbs called him. Thus, he was still in bed when the professionally clipped knock came to his door. He groaned into his pillow. He forced himself up to answer the deputy or whatever poor patrolman had been sent out to give him a court document. He pulled on his soft black robe and dropped his knife into his left pocket. He held his gun in the hand that would be behind the door when he opened it. He looked down at himself. He was wearing black silk pajama pants. That would do. He ran a hand through his hair. It wasn't up to his usual standards of grooming, but it was Saturday morning before nine. Morning people were freaks.

The man on the other side of the door waiting patiently was wearing a soft brown suit that didn't hide his gun. His jet black hair was cut short to just brush his ears. His dark eyes were clear and there were no wrinkles near the corners. He held himself confidently. He wasn't a deputy. He probably wasn't a Feeb either, the suit wasn't right. Tony opened the door with the chain on and rested his head against the doorframe. "How can I help you?"

"Mr. DiNozzo?"

"That's what it says on my mail."

"I'm a federal marshal. I'm here to talk to you about your son."

Tony studied the man as he fought down the immediate surge of anger and sadness the words invoked. "What about my son? And where the Hell is your badge?"

The man's eyes widened. "I'm sorry." He dug out his badge. "I'm Paul Chen. I work out of the DC office. I thought they'd called to let you know I was on the way to take custody of him." He offered the leather badge holder.

Tony took it and shut the door. He dialed the NCIS on-call team. "Hey, it's DiNozzo. Can you do me a favor and verify a federal marshal for me?" After they verified the man was for real and not some mob hitman, Tony opened the door without the chain. He handed back the badge and blocked the doorway with his body. "No one will be taking my son into custody."

Chen frowned. "No one talked to you about this did they?"

"No. No one's contacted me about my son in years. He's not even in Maryland anyway."

The marshal noted his gun and raised his brows. "Is he with his mother then? I assure you I'm not going to hurt him. I will protect him. I admire the stand you've taken against your family."

Tony frowned. "Did something happen to Perilla? That's the only reason anyone would give a damn about my son. Of course, the fact that he's dead and buried in Philly might have something to do with that."

Chen's lips curled up into a friendly smile. "And my boss sends his regards on the admirable job you and yours have done to create a new identity for him, but we are more than willing to help. You won't have to run any longer."

Tony's eyes narrowed. "You think I keep changing jobs because I'm running? From Perilla? The old man doesn't give a damn about me. He's got plenty of my cousins."

Chen shifted from his left to his right foot and back again. Tony's eyes widened. "I can't discuss..."

"No, this is not happening. Go back to you master and tell him that I'm not going to let my dead son be a pawn."

"Mr. DiNozzo."

"Marshal Chen, get the fuck off of my doorstep before I remember I'm a DiNozzo."

"We can offer him a safe life."

Tony snorted. He dropped the badge to the floor. It hit with a soft clunk. He stepped back and closed the door in the man's face. He locked two of the three locks and put the chain into place. He verified that his curtains were firmly closed. He put in "To Catch A Thief." He curled up on the couch and cuddled the gun to his chest as he shivered. The flickering lights and familiar story and voices put him to sleep, guiding him into pleasant dreams of the coast of France.


"Agent DiNozzo."

Tony looked up from his research. He and Gibbs had pulled a stack of cold cases to have Ziva and McGee look over. He was looking for traces on a car that he was sure the officer in question would be stupid enough to use once the main investigation was closed. He had three leads he planned to follow up on if Gibbs gave him his head and Ziva for intimidation. He needed someone else who spoke Spanish on his side. The man in front of him wasn't going to be able to help him with any of that. He was clearly a federal agent. Just not an NCIS federal agent. "Yes?"

"I'm John Warden. Paul Chen told me that you were reluctant to turn your son over to our care."

"No, I told Chen that I don't want you trying to use my son." Tony gave the man a smile that didn't reach his eyes. He met the brown eyes evenly. "And even if I were to admit that my son was using a different identity, why would I turn him over to you? You haven't been able to find this alleged identity. And why do you suddenly want him anyway?"

"Angelo Perilla is a dangerous man and your son will be in danger, especially as he gets closer and closer to eighteen. We can protect him. We can give him a safe life."

"You're under the impression that one, Angelo gives a damn about my son and two, that I'd trust you enough to tell you how to find him. Obviously, you don't know where he is, since Chen came knocking to pick him up at my apartment."

Warden's smile was as slimy as any politician. "Mr. DiNozzo."


The man's lips pinched a bit. "Agent DiNozzo, I know how the DiNozzo family trains its children. I can offer your son something different. I can give him a life where he will never have to worry about a phone call coming in the middle of the night to call him to Perilla's side."

"He's in no danger of that right now." Tony leaned back in his chair. McGee's fingers were still moving on his keyboard, but that didn't mean he was doing research. He could simply be taking notes or talking to Abby. He didn't need to concentrate to type. It was hard-wired into him or something. Ziva had gone still and dangerous behind her computer. He didn't know if she know what Warden was saying or if she'd simply become aware of the threat. He couldn't spare the glance at Gibbs. It would take away his upper hand.

Warden shook his head. "Agent DiNozzo, can I call you Tony?"

"When the devil starts selling bobsleds or pigs start winging their way to your office."

The man blinked. He swallowed, seeing something in Tony's eyes or the casual way his hand rested on the desk. Granted, Warden probably did know that there was a knife and a second gun within quick reach. He might even believe that Tony was on call to the Perilla family. That didn't explain why he was there. "Agent DiNozzo," he sated, "Your son deserves the chance to be himself."

"Are you completely stupid? That's the only explanation I can come up with. You believe that I've raised him the way I grew up? Hell, I haven't even seen my wife in eight years now. I'm pretty sure that means we're divorced, even without the paperwork. Take your story and pedal it to someone else."

"Angelo Perilla is under investigation. And if you want your son protected, you will turn him over to our custody."

"Nope. Not happening. Go whistle. Boss, I've found a possible trace on the car. I'm taking Ziva."


Tony's chair hit the filing cabinet behind him. Warden stared at him while he put his gun into place and grabbed his backpack. "Have a nice life, Mr. Warden."

"Agent DiNozzo."

"No, and that's my final word on the matter. Hey, Ziva, last time you did your research was my wife still alive?" he asked as they approached the elevator.

"Yes," she said quietly. The doors closed, putting them into the "office" that everyone on the team associated with Gibbs and safety. "She was not well." She met his eyes in the shining metal of the doors. "I can find her for you, if you wish?"

"No. Let her have her life, what there is of it. She knows how to find me if she decides she's had enough and wants to go to rehab." The words tasted bitter in his mouth, like the stale aftermath of a Spring break drunk. Ziva's mouth pinched into a frown. She wanted to say something more. He could read it in the line of her shoulders. Too soon they were in the car and on the way to interrogate a bunch of mechanics.


Gibbs looked a question at them when they returned to the office. "No luck, Boss. It might be part of the car, but there's no way to prove it. The damn thing is in pieces and none of the parts are tagged with anything. It was a car three days ago when the local PD turned it over to them for a song."

The senior agent nodded. He tossed over a file folder. "Check through that one again."

"Not grammar issues?"

"No, focus on the transcripts. You didn't translate them."

"Who did?"

"Local agent. Tommy or something."

Tony rolled his eyes. He sorted through the file and made a list of tapes to get from the evidence cage. "Tony?" McGee's voice was calm.

"What's wrong, Probster?"

"Do you want me to ruin him?"

Tony felt the smirk curl up on his face. He'd trained the man well. "No. Not yet. If he doesn't leave me alone, we'll talk."

He got a smile from McGee that reminded him of what it was like to have him as his second in command. Gibbs looked over his reading glasses at them. Tony gave him his most innocent and vacant look. The older man shook his head and huffed out a laugh. "That work on your girls?"

"Only my teachers. They never blamed me for anything because they were pretty sure I was too stupid to do it." With that, the tension that had been in the room broke. It was like the first crack of thunder after a day of clouds. The pressure in the air just seemed fresher.


Gibbs caught Tony's eyes before they left for the day. He raised his brows. Tony inclined his head slightly. He'd show up with beer and pizza and let Tony share a few memories with someone who understood. It always seemed to help them both. They didn't need the safety of Gibbs' basement today. They needed the sinfully comfortable couch and Tony's widescreen television and the TMC movie marathon of the night.

Tony made it home and to his apartment before the tension built up in his shoulders again. He glanced around as he shouldered his pack. He saw Chen in his car, waiting for him. He grimaced and crossed the parking lot. He knocked on the window. "You'll want to be gone before my boss gets here. He should make it from the pizza place in about ten minutes. My son isn't here. And you can report back to your master that he died in Philly. Okay?"

"Mr. DiNozzo."

"Listen, Chen, I understand you've got orders. I'm just telling you the unvarnished truth. Your boss is an asshole who doesn't actually give a damn about anyone but himself. I know that from a full ten minutes sharing air with him. And I don't want to repeat the process. So why don't you just buzz off?"

"I'll protect him. I'll do everything to protect him."

"My son? You don't need to. He's got all the protection he needs. He's got six feet of dirt above him, a cement liner in the grave and a cherry-wood coffin. The lining is cream silk and hand stapled into place. Not that anyone but me, my wife, and the undertaker know that."

Chen frowned at him. "Did you know that you've got a reputation with the FBI? They say you're the best undercover agent NCIS has."

"That's nice to know."

"So, I'm sorry, but I can't believe this act. And I know Agent Warden doesn't."

Tony sighed. He pinched the bridge of his nose. "Do whatever you have to do. Sit here and stare at my apartment until they get tired of this bullshit and get the message. What are you going to do? Kidnap him? What sort of proof do you want? There's police records and a grave. I'm not going to allow an exhumation of his coffin. You and your whole damn agency can go fuck yourselves." Tony spun on his heel and stalked towards the door. He shouldered it open. It wasn't like the lock worked well anymore. He ran up the stairs to his floor. He got inside before he slammed his hand into the wall. The drywall gave under the assault and he grimaced when he saw the stud. He'd missed it by a whole inch. At least his hand wasn't broken.

He barely had time to get his bag and jacket into the closet when Gibbs was unlocking the front door. Tony took the pizza and flipped it open to reveal the old stand-by, pepperoni. The bag in Gibbs' other hand was filled with a six pack of beer and a six pack of soda. "Trying to tell me something, Boss?"

Gibbs snorted. "Last time I checked you've got rum in the cabinet next to the microwave."

"I have something in my cupboards? Really? Wonder who put it there."

"You can't live on take-out for the rest of your life."

"Yes, I can. Just watch me." Tony put the loot onto the coffee-table. Gibbs hung up his jacket.

"You need help fixing the wall?"

Tony glared over his shoulder at the man. Gibbs smirked at him. "If that's an offer, yes. I do. I know less about fixing walls than I do about sanding ships."

"I'll teach you. Unless you want to call Abby? She's pretty handy with finishing work."

Tony flopped onto the couch. The bottle of rum in his hand had a birthday card tied to its neck. He read the card. "Wonder who Cindy is."

"Is it still sealed?"

Tony checked. "Yeah. Think I should get it tested before we drink it?"

Gibbs settled on the other side of the couch and put his feet up on the table. "If you were anyone else, I'd say no."

"Good point. With our luck, Cindy's the ash-killer or something. I'll ask Abs to take a look at it, since I don't remember getting it in the first place. Maybe it was one of the home nurses?"

"No, I ran all of them through background checks. No Cindy's or Cynthias or Cinderellas. Must be one of your girlfriends."

"Great. More things to worry about."

"Eat your pizza and turn on something I won't mind."

Tony stuck his tongue out at his boss, then turned on the television. They lost themselves in the black and white pictures for a long moment. The pizza went down easily and the beer even more easily. "Ziva says she's still alive," Tony offered.

"You want some time to go find her? See if she sparked this off?"

"I don't think they even know her new name. No this is something political. Can you call Fornell and ask him to see if Perilla's under investigation? That's the only thing I can think of. But I don't know why the marshals would care."

"He's FBI or DEA, not the marshals. He's just gotten one of them assigned to his team."

"DEA or ATF then. Someone at Hoover would have given me a heads up. The Organized Crimes department loves me."

"Who'd you sleep with?"

"Now, Boss, really. Would I sleep with a Feeb?"

Gibbs snorted. "Was she cute?"

"He. And very."

The older man shook his head. "I should know better than to ask."

"You really should." Tony nodded earnestly. He toasted him with his beer. "Of course, they're under the impression that I'm hiding my son. That he's not dead." He drained the beer and opened another one. "And they think I've raised him to be an assassin too. I mean, Ziva's kid will be a ninja if she ever unbends enough to date and marry someone. But my kid? No way."

"Took me three weeks to convince HR that you weren't actively part of the family anymore. Ever consider changing your name?"

"Yeah, but it would be pretty confusing to have two Gibbses on the same team."

That got him a pleased smile. "They called you since you've been home?" Gibbs filled his mouth with more pizza.

"Nope. But Chen's in the parking lot until his boss tells him to back off. I don't know if he's actually been told to protect me if he can't get to my son or something. He also said..." Tony drifted to a stop. "Boss, they don't believe me because they know I lie."

"Their problem. Not yours. Long as you don't lie to me."

"I never lie to you. Prevaricate. Split hairs. Mis-direct. Yes. Lie? No."


"I think I need something stronger than beer."

Gibbs took a small flask out of his back pocket. He handed it over. Tony brushed his thumb over the engraving. He bit his lip. "I wish..."

"I know."

"She could have babysat him for college money."

Gibbs' smile was bittersweet. "And she would have laughed about his crush on her. And how he tried to pull off his father's flirting."

Tony barked out a laugh. He took a mouthful of the paint-thinner whiskey. He blinked back tears as it went down and they weren't just from the burn of alcohol. "I miss cuddling him."

"I miss listening to her playing scales."


"Agent DiNozzo," Warden said as he stood up from where he was perched on Tony's desk. Tony ignored him and went to pull up a new case-file to research. Warden frowned at him. He turned off the task light. He put his hand flat on the file and pushed it down to the desktop. "Do not ignore me."

"Get out before I sic a lawyer on you," Tony snarled.

"No. You need to listen to me."

"About what?"

"We can give you son a better life. We can protect him from Perilla."

Tony's eyes narrowed. He let the file lay on the blotter and stared into the man's eyes. He stood up slowly and leaned close to the man's ear. "If you think that you can get me to testify against Perilla by holding my son hostage, I will drop you where you stand. Capice?" Warden shuddered. Tony stepped into his space. "And if you think that I am stupid or tamed because I'm working for NCIS as opposed to whatever three letter agency you work for, then you are sadly mistaken."

"I know what your father taught you. I know that you still have some lingering family loyalty or you would have changed your name. That's no reason for your son to be raised with a gun in one hand and a knife in the other."

"Where were you eight years ago?"

Warden blinked. "What are you talking about?"

"When my son was kidnapped and then returned to me in a cardboard box, where were you? If you wanted so badly to keep him from being trained to kill, where were you then? No, something's come up recently. Either you want a fully-trained DiNozzo at your beck and call or you want to control me by taking him. Which is it?"

McGee's typing suspended. The room seemed to pause in mid-step. The air seemed almost solid as Tony's hand whipped out to catch Warden under the chin and gripped to force the man back one step and then another. "DiNozzo." Gibbs' voice was like a sharp yank on a choke collar. Tony's eyes snapped to his. "You have witnesses here."

"Son-of-a-bitch keeps bringing up my son, I am going to snap. You realize that."

"Don't leave evidence and don't be sloppy," Gibbs chided.

"Yes, Boss." Tony released his grip. It wouldn't even bruise. That was too bad. Warden's eyes were wide and his breathing was a little sharp. The way his eyes were dilated told Tony far too much about what the man really wanted. He wrinkled his nose up. "Get out of here, Mr. Warden. If you keep this up, I will sue you and your agency."

"You were disowned."

Tony snorted. "I can pick up the phone right now and call Angelo Perilla and say 'I'm being harassed by the DEA, care to help me sue them?' and he'll say yes."

"Not with your clearance. You're so proud of leaving your family. You wouldn't dare call him. Agent Chen will meet you at your apartment to pick your son up tonight." Warden sauntered out of the area. After the elevator had swallowed him up, the common sounds of the office penetrated once again. Ziva looked up at him. Her eyes were hard.

"I still have contacts, even if I am now an agent."

He gave her a small smile. "Thanks. I'll think about it."


Tony propped the door of his apartment open with his shoulder. Chen looked at him with his head cocked to the side. "Come in." The marshal stepped in. His shoulders hunched as he passed Tony. The NCIS agent smirked. It was like the man didn't trust him or something. "Have a seat."

Chen perched on the armchair. "Agent DiNozzo, where is your son? With his mother?"

"Oh, just now realizing that there's no sign of a child here?"

"I've been watching all day. There's no one living here but you. That means the information I was given is wrong. Where is your son?"

Tony dropped a stack of full-color photos onto his lap. "Let me tell you a story. See that not-so-pretty apartment building? That's where I lived in Philly. My wife and I were just getting started after all, even if she was a lawyer. We had our son and we were happy." He reached over and flipped the picture away. The child smiling up at them had Tony's eyes and his mother's soft brown curls of hair. "This is Francesco. Frankie. Or Little Frankie as he'd probably be called these days. He was five here. Desdemona had him when I was at the Academy in Illinois. We left Chicago because her family was there. We didn't move to New York because I didn't want my son to be raised with a gun in his left hand and a knife in his right. I wanted him to be anything in the world."

Tony flipped to the next picture. Frankie was wearing an astronaut costume and happily eating a fistful of candy corn. "This was Halloween. He wanted to walk on the moon. And I would do anything to be applying to Space Camp for him today or an internship at NASA up in Greenbelt."

He flipped to the next picture. An unassuming town house of brown brick and a bright orange "safe house" sticker in the window. "This is where Frankie spent his time when his mother and I were on the same schedule. Mrs. Delaney's house. She took in kids for late nights or any time you needed her. She was expensive, but trustworthy and a perfect picture of a grandmother. This is where they kidnapped my son."

Chen's spine stiffened. He swallowed once.

"Two men showed up in uniform with badges and told her that I was working on a case and that they were there to pick him up. She called in their badge numbers and they checked out. She couldn't know that they were dirty. No one did until my son was returned to me and they traced them. They only got accessory to murder and kidnapping charges. They would have gotten off, but the prosecuting attorney and the judge were friends of the family. Desdemona convinced them to send the men to prison. They died in general population."

"Agent DiNozzo, I know this part of the story."

Tony slapped the man in the back of the head. "My story time. You can tell my your version afterwards." Chen glared, but subsided. Tony flipped the next picture. "This is what they found in their cell." The two former dirty cops were splattered with blood, their throats demolished and their pants around their ankles. "Too bad it was so quick."

The next picture was of a swollen-eyed woman with soft, brown hair tangled around her face curled up under his arm. He didn't know who had taken the picture, but he held onto it. It was the last picture he had of the together from before. Before things went to hell. "This is my wife. At least, this is what she looked like before the heroin and alcohol took over again. She'd been doing so well. She stopped using in college and stayed clean until two days after this picture. And you know what? I don't fucking blame her one bit. I still drink away the memories some nights."

He knelt down to get closer to the pile of pictures. He looked up at Chen's face, which was beginning to show signs of strain around his eyes. "Chin up. Only three more pictures." The next picture was innocuous, just a plain cardboard box that was sitting in front of the door of a run-down Philly apartment. "See this? This was on our doorstep two days after he went missing. Not so bad. But I could smell it. And my hands shook when I picked up the phone to call it in." He flipped one more picture.

Inside the box was a dark plastic contractor's bag that was spread open to reveal not the body, but rather the pieces of Frankie's body. His eyes were still wide open – showing off their sea-green color. His mouth was sealed by six wraps of shiny silver duct tape. His hair was tangled and parts were ripped out at the roots. Beneath his head were his arms. His wrists still had tape around them as well. Blood, dark and crumbling, was caked at the joints and pooled around the torso and legs in the bottom of the box. "There was a video at the bottom. The devils who did this to my son taped it. They sent me the tape. And do you know why they took him, raped him, beat him, tortured him and cut him apart while he was still alive? They took him because his last name was DiNozzo and they thought I was going to horn in on their business. So, you tell me this, Agent Chen, where the fuck were the DEA and the Federal marshals when I could have used them?"

Chen's hands shook. Tony took the pictures away before he could crumple the edges. "These aren't in the case file I was given." He said, after swallowing hard twice. "The ME's report stated that death was from a slit throat."

"It wasn't the real ME's report then. Someone's lying to you, Chen, but it isn't me. Now get the fuck out of my apartment and my life."

Chen stumbled, then straightened himself up. "I'll find out what's going on." He paused at the door. "And I'm very sorry for your loss."


Tony lay tangled in sweat-soaked 500 count Egyptian cotton sheets. There were tears streaming down his face and he couldn't remember exactly what he'd been dreaming of. He rolled to his feet and slid toward the bathroom. He turned on the light and winced at the brightness. The face in the mirror had the starts of purple bruising under the eyes. His hair was a mess and there were lines starting at the edges of his eyes and around his mouth that reminded him that he wasn't getting any younger.

He rinsed his mouth and washed his face with cool water. He turned off the light and went back to bed. He could smell the stale fear on the sheets. He lay there looking at the plastic glow stars that Abby had put up for him while he was recovering from the plague. One by one they faded out until even he couldn't see them. His eyes closed of their own volition. He buried his face in the soft pillow, half-hoping it would suffocate him.

The light from the clock couldn't penetrate the solid mass of feathers. The grandfather clock in the living room ticked quietly until it chimed the first of the three fifteen minute increments it took before he drifted off. Frankie chewed happily on the carrot-sticks that his mom cut for him every night. He offered one to Tony with a smile. "Thanks, kiddo." He bit down on the stick and it crunched between his even white teeth. It didn't taste of carrot though. It was sickly sweet and curled in the back of his throat like gun-powder. Frankie didn't seem to notice. He crawled into his father's lap. He was a warm and welcome weight there. Tony tucked him close with one arm.

He looked down at him as Frankie stopped moving. He froze as the expected sleeping face was too still. There was no breath in Frankie's chest. His blood gouted down the front of his shirt, soaking the blue and white striped shirt until it was garnet-brown. He looked up with his father's eyes. "Why didn't you save me, Daddy?"

Tony bolted to the bathroom and emptied the contents of his stomach into the toilet. He leaned his head against the bowl for a long moment. The acid burned his nostrils and the back of his throat. It was no less than he deserved. Eventually, the cold of the tiles seeped through his pajama pants. He forced himself up. He looked at the bed.

He passed by the bed and went to kitchen. He started a pot of coffee that was as strong as he'd normally make for Gibbs. He went to the shelves and plucked the first season of Magnum off. He started the first DVD and let it it run. He lost himself in the brightly colored pictures and the sandy beaches.


Tony pushed past Warden, resisting the urge to throw him into a wall. He set down his bag and locked away his gun before he used it. He refused to be sloppy. Gibbs would never forgive him. He straightened the cuffs of his shirt, even though he was sure he wasn't up to the standards that the suit deserved. He sat down carefully. He looked at the desk next him. McGee was scowling at the back of Warden's head. That was interesting. Tony IM'd the younger man. "What'd he do?"

"He pissed off Gibbs and he's tried to hit on Ziva and he was trying to hack into your computer."

"Did he succeed in anything but pissing off Gibbs?"

"He's not that good. And Ziva shut him down with a look."


"Agent DiNozzo," Warden started, his politician's smile in place. "I want to know why your son isn't in Agent Chen's custody."

Tony's heart-rate sped up. His stomach twisted filled with acid and too much black coffee after a nightmare ridden night. He looked Warden up and down, noting his two weapons and judging just how much padding he had protecting his organs. His stomach was a little too padded to make disemboweling simple with the knife he had on hand. Maybe he could borrow Ziva's weapon.

He looked beyond the man to Ziva's desk. The former assassin regarded him with flat, dangerous eyes that he didn't think she'd ever let McGee confront. She carefully placed a hunting knife on the blotter in front of her with all the ceremony she'd use to present it at a funeral. "Look at me, not your girlfriend, Agent DiNozzo," Warden snarled.

"You have a reason to be annoying my people?" Gibbs snapped. He sat down at his desk. There were two cups in his trash can already. Tony repressed a wince at that.

"I want to know where your son is, Agent DiNozzo."

"Gibbs' daughter is babysitting him and you will never find either of them."

Ziva winced. McGee went almost white. Two spots of anger developed on his cheeks, but he didn't think Warden was smart enough to recognize it. Tony's eyes narrowed. He debated for a long moment. "Were you the one who faked the file that was given to Chen?"

Chen and two agents in cheap black suits interrupted before Warden could say a word. "John Warden. You are under arrest for graft."

Warden raised his brows at Chen. "What?"

"You're under arrest for taking bribes from the Carlito cartel." The two suits flipped out unsurprising FBI badges. They took Warden into custody. Chen stepped into the space in front of Tony's desk. He offered his hand. Tony stood to take it. "I'm sorry for this."

"You found evidence?"

"There were certain pictures that were delivered to the FBI offices." He raised his brows.

Tony shook his head. "Lucky break."

"I would have protected him with my dying breath." His hand was dry, firm and strong with comforting gun callouses.

"That was never in question." Tony inclined his head. Chen released his hand. "Thank you."

"I'm sorry you had to go through this. No parent should have to face something like this. The FBI is launching an investigation into his entire department."

"Good. I hope they ferret out every last one of the bastards."

Chen met the FBI agents and the protesting DEA agent at the elevators.

"You gonna be okay, Tony?" Gibbs' voice undid the control and Tony started to shake.

"Yeah. I'll be fine." He sat down and buried his hands in his hair.

Gibbs settled on the corner of Tony's desk and rested his hand on the top of the dark head. He didn't say anything. "He'll never be able to open his email again," McGee said quietly. Tony felt his lips twitch up into a smile.

"What did you tell them?"

"Nothing from me."

"All I know is that you have a dead son and a wife you don't talk to," McGee said.

"He was murdered." Tony's voice echoed in the space below his desk. "And Desdemona started using and disappeared one night. I didn't look for her."

Gibbs' fingers tensed and released as if he were petting a puppy. "You good?"

Tony swallowed hard. He sat up. He squared his shoulders. He gave Gibbs as perfect of a salute as he could. The former-Marine nodded acknowledgement. "Then find me a goddamn case before I have to look at one more cold."

Ziva cocked her head at him. "Are you certain you do not want me to find her?"

"No, neither of us need to open up that chapter in our lives again." She nodded once and he started sorting through the dispatch notes. There had to be something. He frowned. "McGee, what was the name of that Petty Officer's girlfriend we were looking for yesterday?"

"Marie Colton."

"And was she in the service?"

"We didn't find her."

"I've got a Marie Bridgewater."

McGee blinked. "Let me do some checking." His fingers moved quickly. "Found it."


"They were married in Vegas. She changed her name, but he never finished the paperwork to record her as his spouse."

"Where is she stationed?" Gibbs asked.

"She's at Norfolk in Shipping and Receiving."

"McGee, Ziva, go talk to her."

McGee nodded and gathered his things. Too soon they were off, leaving Tony in an office that didn't offer the usual feeling of safety.

"Keeping me on a leash today, huh?" Tony snapped.

"It's his old posting." His boss' voice was soft, but held a core of steel.

"Right." It was as close to an apology as Gibbs would accept. And as close to an apology as Tony could make himself get.


"Anthony?" The voice was warm and softly tinted with the history of Sicily. Tony's head lifted. He blinked at the old man who stood in front of him. His suit was easily six thousand dollars. His shoes a good four hundred. He rested his weight on a silver headed cane that Tony knew contained a spike in the handle. His red tie had a cheap bronze tie-tac of a Mickey Mouse head.

"Angelo." Tony's voice caught in his throat. He swallowed hard. "And what can I do for you, Mr. Perilla?"

Angelo Perilla, the most dangerous man on the East coast clucked his tongue and frowned. "Anthony," he chided, "Can't a man come to see his grandson?"

"He can't when that grandson happens to be a federal agent and he's under investigation."

"Ah, but NCIS has no argument with me. I do not supply guns to terrorists. I do not supply drugs to Naval bases. I do not run money for terrorists. I am simply a businessman here to take his grandson to lunch."

Tony's lips compressed. He couldn't argue. He'd decided to stay with NCIS not only because Gibbs was the perfect mentor, but because he wouldn't have to fight with his family on a regular basis as he'd had to do in Philly and even in Baltimore. "Boss?"

"Take a long lunch, Tony. Get your head back together." Gibbs looked directly at him.

Tony took a breath. He nodded. He left his pack, but took his gun. He wasn't going to be out with Angelo Perilla unarmed. He was still a DiNozzo. He'd die to protect him. He took the appropriate spot just a touch behind and to the side of the older man. "No, no." Angelo put his hand onto Tony's arm and he automatically crooked it to offer a better grip. He felt odd by walking next to him. It was as if they were equals or something. "I am told there is a good Spanish restaurant down the street. Shall we?"

"Of course."

The bodyguards with the car, snapped to attention and opened the door for them. Tony handed the older man into the car first. He followed after a glance at the man to the right of the door. His cousin Pete winked at him, but didn't break the solemn flat face that they seemed to teach everyone in the protective services. Tony settled next to his grandfather. Pete settled across from them. The other bodyguard sat in the front seat. Pete cocked his head in Tony's direction, obviously asking permission to speak.

"We're all family here, Peter. Anthony, you remember Peter? I believe you still send him birthday presents."

"Yes, sir. Hey, Petey."

"Hey, Tony. You look like crap."

"Thanks. Glad to know I don't look better than I feel."

Angelo put his arm over Tony's shoulders and pulled him closer. His arm was still amazingly strong despite his age. "Close your eyes. It's okay. We'll look after you."

Tony closed his eyes. He rested his head on Angelo's shoulder. He breathed in the familiar scent of garlic and gun-powder. It was the scent of home and tears pricked at his eyes.

"Warden and the other three men in the employ of the Carlito family will be out of their positions by this evening. They will not be offered any plea bargains. They will be crucified in the courts. Our best lawyer is already starting the suits for harassment. We are suing the men themselves and the agency for emotional cruelty. Not the marshals. Agent Chen held himself admirably last night as he searched out the truth of the case."

Tony swallowed hard. "Will I have to testify?"

"I believe it won't come to a court trial. They will settle the case out of court." Angelo's comforting arm move up a bit to ruffle Tony's hair, the way he had when Tony was still a young child. "As for your wife."

"Leave her alone."

"I will extend her an offer of counseling and set her up comfortably." Angelo's voice was firm and Tony knew better than to contradict him. Tony swallowed once, then sat up straight. He wasn't a child, no matter how he wanted to curl up in his grandfather's arms and pretend that he was safe from the world. "Now, there is one small matter we need to attend to."

Tony rolled his eyes. "I should have known."

Angelo smacked the back of his head sharply. Tony blinked at him. "You should have called me when they first harassed you. I should not have had to learn about this foolishness from my mole in the DEA. If anyone dares to use Frankie against you, you call me immediately. The problem will be solved."

"Yes, sir." Tony's shoulders hunched up.

Angelo nodded once and the topic was closed. "Tell me more of Agent Gibbs."

"What are you looking for?"

"Does he know who you are?"

Tony laughed bitterly. "Gibbs knows everything there is to know. I will not lie to him," he warned suddenly. "Don't tell me anything you wouldn't want shared with him."

The older man's face folded into a frown. He regarded Tony with the cold, calculating eyes of a predator. He should have found it frightening, but his father had the same eyes. Gibbs had given him that look the first time they'd met. Ziva occasionally held the same deadness. He knew he himself did it, though he fought the habit as often as he could. "Very well. I assume you will bring him into the family should it become necessary."

Tony floundered for a moment as his brain skipped through several tracks simultaneously. The most prevalent thought made its way to his tongue. "If that is official permission, of course."

"Good. Now, for lunch."


Tony settled on the wooden stairs leading down to Gibbs' basement. He rolled the brown beer bottle between his hands. "Do you think I should tell them the whole story?"

"Your choice." Gibbs carefully measured a length of wood for the side. As he cut and placed it, Tony considered the reactions.

"I don't want Ziva or McGee pushing at the official case," he said finally. "It was hard enough keeping you out of it. If McGee starts looking or Ziva starts talking to people, they'll see through the storytelling."

Gibbs hummed.

"But, God, it would be so satisfying to see her figure it out."

"What makes you think she hasn't?"

"True." Tony sipped his beer. "I've been having nightmares."

"It was that or Abby got to you with her make-up kit again."

"One time. That was a lost bet. It never happened again." Tony wagged his finger at his boss. "He keeps asking me why I didn't save him."

Gibbs put down the wood and crossed the room. He stared at Tony until their eyes actually met. "You couldn't have predicted what happened. There were no threats. There was nothing to indicate he was in danger until he disappeared."

"And you believe you couldn't have saved them?" Tony nodded in the direction of Shannon and Kelly's picture where it sat unobtrusively on the worktable. It was a new addition since Gibbs had come back from Mexico.

"Course I believe it. Doesn't mean it's true. The agent protecting them died too."

Tony put down the bottle. It hit the stairs with a muffled clunk. He ran his hand through his hair. "My mother was murdered when I was ten. My father took me to Maui and abandoned me in a hotel room."

"To keep you out of the line of fire?"

"No, because he couldn't face having a child with him when he went to pull the trigger on the man who did it."

"He was right about that. Nothing else in your childhood, but..."

Tony laughed. "You really don't like him do you?"

"I've been thinking about shooting him for nine years."

"Hey, I've been thinking about it for over twenty. We should share plans."

Gibbs reached out carefully to place a hand on Tony's shoulder. It was warm and firm. Gibbs smelled of coffee and sawdust and tongue oil. It was as ingrained in his skin as gun-powder was ground into Angelo's. Tony tilted his head towards the touch. "Guest room's set up."

Tony nodded. "I just."

"I know."

"Does it every go away?"



"It gets easier. It fades a little bit every year. New memories start to layer over the old ones."

"I thought. I thought killing them would stop the nightmares. I thought it would be over, but it never fucking ends. I was doing better. With Jeanne, I was ready. I loved someone again. For real."

Gibbs nodded slowly. "It hurts. It will always hurt a little bit."

"I forget sometimes. I forget what I am. I forget what I will some day become. And then this rears up to remind me. Sometimes I think it would be better if I put a gun to my head and finish it all because at least I wouldn't be hurting anyone else." The words poured out in a rush. "But I can't. I can't take the chance that I won't be able to hold him again."

"Ah, Tony." Gibbs sighed. He moved his hand to cup the side of Tony's neck. "I wish I could make it all go away for you. But I can't."

Tony smirked at him. "I could get Ziva to kill me."

"Your grandfather would destroy NCIS for that."

"No, he will always associate her with her father. He'll destroy the Mossad." Gibbs stilled, eyes somewhere far away. He shook his head, coming back to the here and now. "I know. It's so tempting isn't it? Setting him or the family on them?"


"Game's on in ten."

"Television's over there."

"You finally get more than basic cable? The digital revolution didn't destroy the poor thing?"

"Yeah, but I don't get the farm report anymore."

Tony huffed at that. "Chinese?"

Gibbs nodded. He removed his hand slowly. His voice stopped Tony at the top of the stairs. "There's a bottle of vodka in the cabinet by the fridge. Abby left it."

Tony nodded. He gave Gibbs a loose two-finger salute. "On it, Boss."


NCIS Bedroom