A/N: Sequel to my story "Winter Wonderland", this is dedicated to those fans who asked to see more of the Teasdales as well as those who wanted a story about Tony's father. Be careful what you ask for! Naturally this was started before the strike was over and nothing in those episodes are reflected in this story.
By Lizabeth S Tucker
Officer Ziva David edged closer to the desk of Special Agent Timothy McGee, attempting to appear interested in the contents of a file open on his desk. In reality, she was covertly watching an unusually somber Anthony DiNozzo pecking half-heartedly at his computer keyboard. "McGee," she whispered. "I do not understand. Usually a trip to anywhere has Tony jumping around like a…like a…" She struggled to find the right simile.
"A Mexican jumping bean?" Tim offered.
Ziva frowned, momentarily distracted. "There are beans from Mexico that jump?"
"Actually I think they're seeds with worms or something inside that make them move around." Tim turned to watch their coworker. "I don't know what's wrong. Ever since Gibbs announced where the conference was being held, he's been overly quiet, almost depressed. It's really not like him. I'm kinda worried myself."
Ziva agreed. "He's just not Tony."
Before they could come up with a way to discover the reason behind Tony's unusual demeanor, Jethro Gibbs appeared, plane tickets in one hand and his suitcase in the other. "DiNozzo, pack it up. It's time to go. Taxi's on the way."
Tony's reply was too soft for the others to hear, but seemed to concern Gibbs.
"It's a big conference, one of many being held all over the country. Hell, the FATF's holding them in every major city on the east coast. We might never see him."
With a deep sigh, Tony shook his head as he got to his feet. "Trust me, boss, he'll be there. It's his city. Nothing goes on there without his knowledge or approval."
"Tell you what, if he does show, I'll pull my Sig and shoot him," Gibbs said, dropping his hand briefly on his senior agent's shoulder.
Grabbing his own suitcase from behind his desk, Tony grinned, although not with his usual megawatt voltage. "Don't tempt me, boss."
"C'mon, DiNozzo, hustle. We still have airport security to deal with."
As the two men walked into the elevator, Ziva and Tim could hear Tony begin his usual argument. "If we had our own plane, we wouldn't have to get to the airport so early."
"Not gonna happen, so you might as well give it up."
After the silver doors slid closed, Tim and Ziva resumed their work. The Israeli found she couldn't concentrate on the cold case she was reviewing. "Who was he talking about?"
"For Gibbs to offer to shoot this person, he must be very dangerous. But surely Tony could take care of it himself. He is really quite capable in that regard."
"Yeah, he is. I wonder…"
When he didn't continue, Ziva prodded. "What?"
"Abby might know who it is. She knows everything about almost everybody. Plus she and Tony are friends."
Ziva looked at McGee, then at the file on her desk. "I cannot concentrate until this mystery is solved. Let's visit Abby."
"Abby? Abby!" McGee tapped the black-haired young woman on her shoulder, realizing that the headset she was wearing along with the volume of the music blaring in the lab that kept her from hearing their arrival. Unfortunately, he didn't move back fast enough or far enough to avoid Abby's reaction.
"Yeow!" Forensics expert Abby Sciuto jumped, simultaneously kicking her chair back, clipping McGee's hip before being abruptly stopped by the cord on her headset. She pulled them off, shooting a stern glare at her sometime boyfriend. "Geez, Timmy, give me a heart attack, why don't you?"
McGee and Ziva looked so intently at the Goth that she began patting the various buttons, snaps and zippers on her black and red overalls. "What? What's wrong?"
"We need your assistance, Abby."
"Well, sure, Ziva. What do you two need?"
"What do you know of Tony's enemies?"
"We're not talking about the kind of people we were looking at when Chip framed him for murder," Tim explained. "We're thinking more of someone Tony wouldn't want to meet face-to-face, couldn't handle on his own."
"Is this a joke? I don't think there's anyone Tony couldn't handle if he put his mind to it. Heck, he's not even afraid of Gibbs when the bossman is on a rampage," Abby protested.
Ziva perched on the edge of Abby's desk. "It appears to be someone Gibbs knows about. He actually offered to kill this person if he appeared at the conference."
"He was just trying to make Tony feel better, Ziva. Gibbs didn't really mean it." McGee recalled the look on Gibbs' face when the promise was uttered. "At least I don't think he would really shoot a man simply because Tony didn't care to meet him."
"Conference? What conference?" Abby asked.
"Oh, that's right. You were testifying when the Director made the announcement. Certain team leaders and senior agents were being sent to money laundering conferences being held all over the country. The FAFT are sponsoring them."
"And they are?"
"The Financial Action Task Force. They've been around since 1989, but after 9/11, they really got going on cutting the money pipeline to terrorism."
"Where did Gibbs and Tony get sent? I hope it was somewhere warm with sunny beaches for Tony's sake," Abby said. "He's still getting chills since what happened last month."
"That's the truth. Ducky was worried he might develop pneumonia after the Teasdale kidnapping." McGee shuddered as he remembered the frantic run through the ice-laden snow that the senior agent had done with no shoes or jacket, fleeing armed kidnappers.
Abby nodded, her pigtails bouncing. "Even though he didn't get that sick, he still had a nasty cold for days. So where are they headed?"
"Oh." Abby's bright smile suddenly dimmed, her shoulders drooping.
Ziva, shocked by the sudden change in demeanor, reached out to the other woman. "Abby, what is it? What's wrong?"
Tim knelt by Abby's chair, surprised when the young woman clutched his hand. "Abs? You're scaring us."
Abby gave Tim's hand a final squeeze before releasing it. "I'm okay. Really," she insisted when they appeared dubious. "It was just a shock. Now I understand."
"We still do not, Abby." Ziva pleaded. "Help us to."
"Riverview is where Tony's father lives."
"Tony's father?" Ziva frowned as she tried to recall details from Tony's dossier, compiled when the Mossad officer was first sent to NCIS. "He wasn't raised there, was he?"
"No, after his father shipped Tony off to boarding school, the elder DiNozzo sold the family mansion in Long Island as well as all of Tony's possessions. I think it was after his mother died. His father bought Riverview a few years later."
"You mean he bought a house in Riverview, right? Or a business?" Tim said.
"Nope, he bought the town. Lock, stock, and City government."
Ziva remembered some of Tony's history, little of it good. "He was disowned at the age of twelve, yes?"
"But why? What did Tony do?"
"Tony didn't do anything wrong, Ziva! He was just a kid," Abby said fiercely, glaring at the Israeli.
"Abby, calm down. She's just trying to understand." Tim gently tried to soothe the irate young woman.
"Okay, okay. I'm sorry. It's just that this really burns me. Just because Tony wasn't living up to some arbitrary standards, his own father turned his back on him."
"It is all too common, Abby," Ziva commented, thinking of her own father and his demands on both herself and her half-brother.
"I know that Tony and his father had this weird relationship, but to be afraid of meeting him seems strange. I mean, I remember some of the things he'd let drop about his dad and mom…"
"Father and mother," Abby corrected softly.
"Haven't you ever noticed, Tim? Tony always calls them mother and father, never dad and mom or pops and ma, just mother and father." Abby sniffed sympathetically. As the daughter of a loving family, she couldn't imagine the immense loneliness tony must have experienced as a child. "Tony's never actually said anything, at least to me, but I think there may have been some sort of abuse over the years, emotional if not always physical."
"How do you know?" Tim asked, shocked by the idea.
"Just something he said after Kate's funeral, about wanting to be cremated so he wouldn't be locked away in the dark again, this time forever. He was pretty drunk at the time, but bossman and I both caught the same thing from his slurred ramblings."
"Why? What could a child do that would call for that kind of punishment?"
Abby shrugged. "I don't know."
"Because, Tim, Tony didn't do what he was told, most likely," Ziva said, all too aware of the cruelties to be inflicted on an innocent child.
"You can't let Tony know I told you anything. He doesn't even know that I heard anything. Gibbs took him home right afterward and, I think, heard a lot more stuff." Abby grabbed her half-empty cup of Caf-Pow! and slurped at the straw.
"What makes you think that?" Tim asked.
"First because he didn't yell at Tony the next day, even though Tony had this wicked hangover. Instead he brought him aspirin and some hangover remedy concoction."
"Gibbs was beating the stuffing out of the punching bag in the gym."
"He usually does that when he works out," Ziva observed.
"Not like this, Ziva. It was as personal a beating as when he came in the night Kate was shot. He was angry and that punching bag was someone specific."
Tim's mouth dropped open. "I remember that! Tony was nervous around Gibbs for most of the morning. Something I've never seen before or since. He was acting really strange until Gibbs dragged him away. They were gone for quite a while. Once they came back, Tony had raw knuckles, but was in a much better mood."
"He took Tony to the gym?" Abby guessed.
Ziva nodded slowly. "Yes, of course. Gibbs let Tony take out his anger and shame on the punching bag, probably bare-fisted, hence the raw knuckles."
"Gibbs is with Tony?" Abby asked as she grabbed Bert the stuffed hippopotamus from his spot on her filing cabinet, hugging him tightly enough to make him fart. She rested her chin on his soft gray furred head.
"Yes," Ziva replied. "Both men left for the airport just before we came down here to see you. You've explained much of what we saw and heard, Abby. Thank you. We were worried."
"Bossman will keep him safe," Abby avowed, punctuating it with a very long and loud fart from Bert.
Tim glanced at his watch, his green eyes widening. "Ziva! We've got to go, that report has to go out before noon." He waved at Abby as he tried to rush the Israeli out of the lab. "Thanks, Abs."