A/N: Hey guys, you will notice that I did change some of the scenes that already happened just slightly, so please don't review saying "hey, they didn't say that then." For example, in this chapter I used a quote from McGee for a certain scene that he didn't actually say until the next episode. Anyway, that's about it. I'm not sure when I will get the next chapter up since I'm back in school, but I will do my best. Thanks ^_^
Disclaimer: Believe me, if they belonged to me, McGee wouldn't get such crappy lines most of the time.
I also want to thank anny385 for allowing me to borrow her idea. Her story Five Lives that Weren't His, was the inspiration for this story, so if you have a chance, check it out!!!
"Dad?" Tony asked uncertainty as his father entered the room.
"Yeah, Tony" Anthony DiNozzo Sr asked his twelve year old son wearily; it had been a long day.
"Do you have to work all day tomorrow too?"
DiNozzo Sr sighed, "Yes, I'm supposed to. I have a deal I need to close."
"Oh," was all young Tony had to say in response. "Ok, well I'm going to go to bed, night dad."
DiNozzo Sr watched his son disappear through the doors that led to his bed. He had brought Tony on this business trip with him because he thought they might be able to spend some time together. Instead, he had spent the first four days in meetings that went from early in the morning until late at night. To be completely honest, DiNozzo Sr would rather spend the day doing things with this son, but these meetings were important, he couldn't afford to not to go. As he sat on his own bed, he examined the thought processes that had just gone through his head. Who was he kidding? These people all wanted his business, he could put them off for one day at least. With that thought he picked up his cell phone, "Yeah Bill, cancel all my appointments and meetings for tomorrow and reschedule for the next day, I'm spending the day with my son."
The next morning Tony was woken up early by the sound of his dad calling him. Confused, Tony rolled over and looked at the time. It was 8:00 A.M. His dad should have left already. Usually he would come in around 6:00 A.M. and whisper goodbye before slipping out the door. Why was he still here?
"Dad?" Tony asked coming out into the main sitting area of their hotel. "Why are you still here? Is everything all right?"
"I cleared my schedule for the day. You and I are spending the day together having fun."
A huge smile made its way to Tony's face, "Really?" He asked.
"Yes, and I'm leaving my phone here so no one can bother us."
Tony and his dad had never been big on physical affection, usually just a pat on the back, but right now Tony was so happy he couldn't help but give his dad a hug. He had been excited when his dad had asked if he wanted to come to Hawaii with him, even though he knew he probably wouldn't see much of his dad. Still, he had been slightly disappointed when his dad's time had completely been monopolized by meetings, he had hoped they would at least get to spend the evening together. For the rest of the day they spent time going sigh seeing, snorkeling, surfing, and all sorts of island things. At the end of the day they were both so tired they could barely make it back into their room before they collapsed. As Tony went off to bed, he turned around to his dad and said, "Thanks dad, this was the best trip and the best day ever."
"Dad?" twenty year old Tony asked coming in to his fathers office. "Can we talk?"
"Sure son, what do you want to talk about?"
Tony swallowed nervously, "Umm, its about college, and my future. You see, I'm...I'm not sure I want to take over you business when I graduate. I've been doing a lot of thinking and I want to be a cop." Tony sat across from his father watching his reaction nervously. He didn't want to disappoint his father, but the last couple years of college had be torture for him. He loved the college life, and he loved his fraternity, but he hated all his business classes. He didn't think he could take anymore.
"Is that what you really want?" DiNozzo Sr asked after a moment.
"Yes, I already talked to counselor and he said that its not too late for me to change my major. I just can't see myself sitting in board meetings all day dealing with people I don't like who only want my money. I want to do something more active, something where I can make a difference in someone's life."
DiNozzo Sr. examined his son closely. "If that is really what you want to do son, than go for it."
"You're not disappointed?" Tony asked.
To say that he wasn't a little disappointed would be lying, but more than that, he was proud of his son. "A little, but Tony, I'm proud of you for pursuing what you want to do, and living your own life. I never did, I followed in my fathers footsteps like I was expected to and never asked questions or challenged the path that was laid out for me. I want you to live your dreams Tony, not mine. You just tell me if you need anything from me and I will do whatever I can to help."
Once again, a massive smile made its way to Tony's face, he had thought his father would support him, but to hear his father say he was proud of him made Tony's heart soar.
"Hey dad," Tony said as he heard his father come on the line.
"Hey, Jr. How are you? I haven't heard from you in a while.
Tony sighed, "Well, it looks like I'm going to be moving again." There was silence on the other end for a moment.
"Again? What happened Tony?" Sr asked his son.
"Well you know how unhappy I was there, its been coming for a while. My coworkers were mostly a bunch of idiots."
As Sr. listened to his son he could tell something was wrong, there was more than Tony was telling him. "Son, what happened?"
Tony took a deep breath. "John...John was killed."
"Oh Tony," he responded knowing how close his son had been to his older partner. Tony had advanced quickly and become a detective at an incredibly young age. As a result, very few of his coworkers respected him or were even nice to him. It was one of the reasons this was Tony's third department in such short time. Here though, Tony had found a partner who not only supported him, but also respected him and treated him as an equal. "How, what happened?"
Tony told his father the story of how they had come across a dead civilian and a dead sailor. When they ran the sailors identity, less than three hours later NCIS had shown up and demanded to be let in on the investigation. It had been a few tense moments when the captain had agreed to a joint investigation and had directed a stern looking man with graying hair, a marine cut, and the most piercing blue eyes Tony had ever seen to him and his partner. The man had introduced himself as Gibbs, and quickly introduced the blonde girl next to him as Agent Backladder, and the older Scottish gentleman with him as Doctor Mallard, his ME. He told his father how over the next three days the two teams had worked surprisingly well together in spite of the tense first meeting and how his partner and the marine seemed to have a lot in common and seemed to have a mutual respect for each other. This had surprised DiNozzo Sr because he knew that it took a lot to earn John's respect. He listened as his son told him how for three days the two teams had chased down lead after lead only to come up empty handed until that third day. Gibbs and his agent had been out tracking down a contact of the dead sailor's when Tony had pieced together the clue they had been missing, the clue that led them to an abandoned warehouse. Tony and John had immediately jumped in the car and called Gibbs on the way. Gibbs and Backladder weren't that far out, they would only arrive 10 minutes behind John and Tony, although Tony had confided in John that he suspected they would make it in five with Gibbs driving after he had hung up. The plan was simple. Go to the warehouse, wait for backup, then sweep the building. However, nothing in Tony's life was simple and the moment the partners parked the car and got out to gear up, the first shots had rung out. Pinned behind the car with their vests out of reach, Tony and John had done their best to hold off their attackers, two by Tony's count. After spotting better cover for them both, Tony signaled to John who agreed. As they made their way over, attempting to cover each other, Tony didn't see the third shooter until it was too late. Before he even realized what was happening, he was pushed to the ground and watched helplessly as his partner took the bullet that was meant for his head to his chest. Tony had reacted immediately, killing the shooter with one shot, but it was too late. The damage had been done. As Tony desperately tried to stop the bleeding as he knelt next to his partner, he was barely aware of Gibbs and Backladder arriving and eliminating the other two suspects. He only became aware of their presence when he heard Backladder calling for an ambulance and felt Gibbs kneeling next to him in an attempt to help add pressure. He watched helplessly as his partner turned to Gibbs and whispered, "Take care of him for me," before taking his final breath.
For one of the few times in his life, Anthony DiNozzo Sr felt truly helpless as his son stopped talking. He desperately wanted to comfort his son, but he was hours away and he didn't know what to say. He had never had a job where you depended on your partner day in and day out to keep you alive, so he couldn't even pretend to understand what his son was experiencing. He was also having difficulty coming to terms with how close he had come to losing his son. He knew that in his line of work, danger was an everyday factor, but hearing the story from his son's own mouth, if John hadn't reacted as quickly as he had, he knew very well he would be planning his own son's funeral. "When's the funeral?" he finally asked.
"In three days. Gibbs and his team had to return to DC to finish processing the case on their end, but he told me he'd be here for the funeral and he doesn't seem like the type to go back on his word."
The last part of the statement surprised DiNozzo Sr. He had never heard his son speak so respectfully of a coworker aside from John, especially not only three days after meeting them. "I'll be there too. I liked John, he was a good man."
"Thanks Dad," Tony replied. There was silence for a moment before either spoke again.
"So what are you going to do now?" DiNozzo Sr asked. "You said you were moving."
"Yeah, Gibbs offered me a position on his team at NCIS. Its a good offer and I'm going to take, there's nothing left for me here. It will be good to start fresh. Who knows, maybe I'll be able to stay for more than 2 years. If nothing else Gibbs seems like he'll be interesting to work for." DiNozzo Sr's heart broke at his son's attempt at a joke. This new job should be an exciting new adventure for Tony. He was making the leap from detective to federal agent at a still relatively young age, and yet, it was shadowed by John's death.
"It'll be good for you, son." he said, attempting to comfort and reassure Tony in some way. "Besides, it sounds like from what you've told me Gibbs will be fair to work for. If John liked him then you know he must be a good man."
"Yeah," Tony agreed tiredly.
"Listen, you need to get some sleep, but promise me you will call me if you need anything, even if its just to talk. You don't have to deal with this on your own."
"Ok, thanks dad."
"Your welcome son." As Anthony hung up with his son, he stared at the picture next to his phone of the day Anthony had graduated from the Academy. His smile was so bright then, much bigger than it was now. The years, as few as they had been, had not been kind to Tony, and his smile had faded a little bit with each new city. It had started coming back when he worked with John, but now Anthony feared that he might never see his son smile that big again. He just hoped and prayed that this Agent Gibbs might help to prove him wrong.
"But I just talked to him, yesterday, last night. He was fine then, I don't understand." Anthony DiNozzo Sr. said as he frantically searched the website he was on before swearing under his breath. "I can't get another flight out for another 4 hours, it will be quicker for me to just drive," he said standing up and grabbing the minimum amount of things he would need and throwing them in his duffle bag. "What exactly happened, Agent Gibbs?" he questioned, his voice harsher than he intended.
"Anthony opened a letter that was contaminated with pneumonic plague," If DiNozzo Sr didn't know Agent Gibbs so well, he might of thought that Gibbs was joking with him. But he did know Gibbs, not only through his son's story, but through personal meetings too. Even if he didn't know the man personally, the anguish in Gibbs's voice alone was enough to scare him. He knew the Marine wasn't one to wear his heart on his sleeve, or let emotion show through, which is what scared him the most. For Gibbs to allow the fear to be heard in his voice told DiNozzo Sr that this was very real, and incredibly serious.
"I'm on my way," he said before hanging up. Gibbs closed his cell phone and took a deep breath to calm himself down. It was the first moment he had had to himself since he had received the devastating news. He had to keep it together for his team because they had to be at the top of their game, they couldn't know just how scared Gibbs was because he was their leader, and he had done a good job of holding himself together until that phone call. As soon as the results had come back Gibbs first thought was that Tony's father had needed to know. He knew it would kill the older man, but Gibbs wanted him to come as soon as possible hoping that his fathers presence would encourage Tony to keep fighting harder, at the very least though, Gibbs wanted to make sure that Anthony Sr was their for his son's last hours to be able to say goodbye, to give him the chance that Gibbs himself had never had. Gibbs stopped himself when he realized what he was thinking, that wouldn't happen. Tony was going to be fine, and he was going to get the person responsible.
The drive from New York to D.C. was probably the longest drive between the two cities DiNozzo Sr had ever experienced even though he made it in half his normal time. As much as he didn't want to think of it, he couldn't help but think that his son could die without him there. Every time that thought crossed through his mind, he pushed down on the gas pedal a little harder. It was only by the grace of God that he hadn't gotten a speeding ticket. As he rushed through the hospital doors and found his son's location, his heart stopped as he caught his first glimpse of the room they were keeping his son in and his first glimpse of his son. As he came closer, he noticed his son wasn't alone, and his heart gave another painful jolt as he realized that his son's partner Kate was in the room as well. Gibbs hadn't mentioned that she had been contaminated as well. His thoughts briefly wandered to her parents and his heart went out to them when he remembered they lived in Indiana and wondered if they would make it in time. Suddenly he was approached by a doctor who informed him that even though he was Tony's father, he couldn't enter the room and risk exposure or introducing any new germs. He was about to protest when he caught sight of Ducky.
"Ducky, thank God, what is happening?"
As Ducky led him to a chair, he began explaining, "I'm afraid that Anthony has been infected with a strand of the plague that has been altered to withstand any modern medications of treatment."
"My God," he responded. "What exactly does that mean?"
Ducky sighed heavily before answering. "It means that young Anthony is completely on his own this time. It is up to him and his body to fight off the plague. He has the same chances as those in the 1300's."
DiNozzo Sr sat in silence for several minutes as the news sank in. "How is Kate doing, Gibbs didn't tell me she had been infected too" he finally asked, not able to talk about his son while he fought for his life in front of his eyes.
"She wasn't," Ducky answered.
"What, then why is she in there?"
"She went with Tony to do the initial testing because she was closest to him when the envelope was opened and she was already sick. When the results came back, she refused to leave him by himself."
DiNozzo Sr didn't respond, but his eyes moistened and he couldn't help his heart swell with gratitude for the brave young woman. Even though his son had been in some bad situations over the past two and a half years, he couldn't help but thank Gibbs everyday for taking his son under his wings. Tony's smile had returned just as bright and he had never seen his son happier than in the last few years, and he had finally found coworkers who truly cared about him, and had become more than just coworkers, but had become friends as well. Suddenly, there was a flurry of action and Ducky was on his feet, moving toward the room. He desperately wanted to jump up and rush to his son's side, but suddenly his legs had turned to led. Fear gripped his entire body and paralyzed him. He watched helplessly as Kate walked out of the room and into Ducky's arms, tears pouring down her face. He watched as Gibbs stormed into the room, blew past the doctors, turned to say something to them, and then went to Tony's side. He watched as Gibbs leaned over and speak softly into Tony's ear, hand him something, and then walk out.
It wasn't until Gibbs walked out of the isolation chamber and their eyes met that DiNozzo Sr was finally able to move again. He finally was able to force his legs to cooperate and stood as his son's Boss approached him and guided him to the hallway just outside.
"Agent Gibbs," he said finding his voice. "How is Tony? How is my son?" He had managed to find his voice, but it was still shaky and laced with emotion. "The doctors wouldn't let me in, and then everything happened so fast, I just couldn't...I couldn't make my legs work," he admitted, slightly ashamed.
Gibbs stared at the broken man in front of him and his heart went out to him. He understood that paralyzing fear, better than anyone. He had felt it many, many years ago, just after Kelly had been born. What had started out as a mild cold had turned into a deadly fever. After hours of pacing the floor of the E.R. the parents were allowed to hold their baby girl for the first time in over 12 hours. Gibbs remembered the fear he had felt waiting for news as clearly as it had been yesterday. He also remembered the pain of losing Kelly, the feeling of despair that had consumed him after she and Shannon had been killed. They were feelings that he never wished on any parent. Putting his hand on the man's shoulder he spoke softly but firmly, allowing his emotions to filter through as he spoke, "Tony is going to be fine Mr. DiNozzo, he's a fighter and he doesn't have my permission to die." As DiNozzo Sr heard Gibbs speak those words and looked into his eyes, he found himself believing Gibbs, suddenly as if the fear he had been feeling suddenly vanished and was replaced the same confidence that Gibbs had. "I'm glad to be able inform you that the person responsible for this has been caught. Sadly, this was all brought on as a result of a horrible misunderstanding and one very, very sick woman."
"Thank you Agent Gibbs," he said shaking the man's hand. "Thank you for taking care of him when I couldn't." Gibbs simply shook his head and the two men continued to talk for a few minutes, discussing the case in more detail. Taking a deep breath, he thanked Gibbs once more before he turned and walked back into the room, pausing slightly as he saw his son's coworkers in deep conversation. He could see that his son's youngest coworker Agent McGee was clearly upset, and Kate was attempting to comfort him.
"That's easy for you to say Kate, you're not the idiot who handed him an envelope full of plague, and not the one who listed off all the horrible things it could potentially be, only to have one of them to be true." As DiNozzo Sr listened to his son's young coworker beat himself up, he couldn't help but feel bad for him.
"Tim, listen to me," Kate said, using her firmest voice. "This is not your fault, and besides, Tony is going to be fine."
"She's right you know," DiNozzo Sr said coming up behind the agent.
"Mr. DiNozzo," McGee said, slightly startled.
"Kate's right Agent McGee, this is not your fault."
"Are you the one who put the plague in the envelope?"
"No buts, Tim," Kate said again, once again trying to reach through to Tim. "You didn't even hand it to him, Tony grabbed the envelope from you so shouldn't that make it his fault?" Kate questioned.
"No!!" Tim replied, clearly horrified at the idea.
"Exactly," Kate responded. "Don't you see, its no more your fault than it is Tony's."
As DiNozzo Sr watched the two of them he was once again struck by how much his son's team was like a family. They bugged each other and drove each other insane, but the moment one of them was in trouble, they were there to support them and hold them up.
"You really should listen to her Tim, she's very smart." Mr. DiNozzo said winking at Kate making her smile slightly. "Besides, if Tony hadn't grabbed that envelope from you than your positions might be reversed, and as much as he torments you, I know that Tony would much rather go through this himself, than watch either you or Kate go through it. Now from what hear from Agent Gibbs, you haven't stopped working to catch the person responsible for this since the envelope was opened and for that I owe you a thank you. Now go home and rest because you know Tony will expect you to visit him tomorrow and he will tease you mercilessly if you don't." He was happy to see the young man finally accept the arguments, although he didn't seem completely convinced.
"Come on Tim, lets go get some to eat. I'll be back in a bit Mr. DiNozzo," Kate said, slipping her arm through McGee's and walking out with him leaving the father alone for the first time since he had come. DiNozzo Sr sighed before finally entering the isolation chamber. It was terrifying to see how fragile his son looked. He was used to seeing his son full of energy and life, not still and pale.
"Oh Tony," he whispered softly as he came to his son's side.
"Dad?" Tony responded, opening his eye slightly. "Why are you here?" he asked slightly confused.
"Gibbs called me a little while ago. I came as fast as I could," he responded.
"How'd you get here so fast?" Tony wheezed, his eyes drifting closed.
"I drove," he responded and then chuckled when Tony's eyes flew back open. "Relax, I didn't get into or cause any accidents, nor did I get any tickets." DiNozzo Sr sat there by his son's side for the next hour while Tony slept. Kate returned with a fresh pair of hospital issue pajama's determined to stay with Tony through the night. As DiNozzo Sr. left the hospital and found a hotel, he slept well that night knowing that his son would be well taken care of.
"Dad," Tony's voice came over the line quiet and heartbroken. DiNozzo Sr knew that tone of voice and it was with dread and trepidation that he asked the next questioned.
"She's gone," Tony replied, clearly dazed.
"Who?" DiNozzo Sr asked, his stomach and heart constricting. There were really only two women in Tony's life who would have him this upset.
"Kate," Tony choked out.
"What do you mean gone?" he asked, hating himself for it. He desperately wanted to hear his son say that she had moved, even though he knew he wouldn't.
"She's dead. She...she was murdered right in front of me," Tony said, allowing his emotions to take control for the first time since it had happened. Gibbs had left when they had taken Kate away and it was the first chance he had to get away. He instructed some jr agents to continue to canvas the scene and had left McGee in charge before walking to a gas station around the corner and locking himself in the bathroom. It wasn't until he stood infront of the mirror that he realized he still had Kate's blood on his face and the last string of control he had over his emotions snapped. The only thing he could think to do was call his dad and tell him. "She was standing right next to me, laughing," he said tears sliding down his face freely. "She said, 'I thought I'd die before I ever heard a compl...' and then she was gone. She didn't even get to finish her sentence. The bullet came out of nowhere. It went straight...straight into the...into the center of her head. Right between her eyes. Just like that," he finished pathetically. "Her blood, its all over my face," he choked out, tears threatening to fall once more.
On his father's end there was silence for several moments before he spoke. "I don't know what to say, 'sorry' just doesn't do it." Even in his state of mind, Tony was grateful that his father didn't try to just placate him. He would being hearing "sorry" nonstop for the next few weeks from people meaning well but not truly understanding. He would much rather listen to his father's silence, just knowing he was there was enough.
"Maybe its time for me to move on," Tony said sadly breaking the silence. "Its been over two years, I should have known this was going to happen. That's why I don't stay. The people I care about get hurt."
"This is not your fault," DiNozzo Sr said firmly, echoing Kate's words from less than a month ago. "You can't leave Tony, its not what you want and you know it. You're finally happy." Tony remained silence. "What about Tim?" he asked his son, knowing he could guilt his son into staying. He felt awful about it, but he also knew this time, his son needed to stay. In the past, his son moved on because that was what was best for him. This time, he knew his son wanted to leave because he was scared and he was running, not because it was what was best for him. "It isn't just you anymore. He looks up to you and looks to you for guidance whether you realize it or not. You didn't hear the way he beat himself up while you were in that isolation chamber, or how hard it was for Kate and myself to convince him that what happened to you wasn't his fault. What do you think is going to happen to him if you leave? Do you trust anyone else to continue to teach and continue to protect him? What about Gibbs? Do you trust anyone else to watch his six or stand up to him when someone needs to?" There was another long silence before Tony responded.
"You're right dad, thanks for not letting me run away. I need to go check on Tim. I'll call you back when we know when the funeral is going to be. I have a terrorist to track down."
"I don't know if I can do this anymore dad, I don't think I can lose anyone else. Who's next, Gibbs? Or Abby? Or what about Tim?"
"This wasn't your fault son, Ziva made her decision. There was nothing you could have done."
"I could have handled things differently,"
"No, you did everything you could to try to help her and protect her. It nearly cost you your job, and it nearly cost you your life Tony. You know that I don't hesitate to call you out when you're wrong, but this time Tony, she was wrong. She lied to you and the entire team."
"Logically I know all of that, but it doesn't make it any easier."
"No, it doesn't. She never really had a chance though Tony. Her father has been manipulating her emotions and holding his love for her ransom. He forced her to earn his love but he had her so conditioned she couldn't see that. She needed to find out who he was for herself, it wasn't something anyone could tell her. I'm just sorry it ultimately cost her, her life."
"I'm going after her," Tony finally said after some silence. "After the men responsible."
"I thought you said she died," DiNozzo Sr replied, confused by his son's response.
"She did. I'm going after those responsible, she deserves justice. I may not be able to get to her father, but I can at least get the ones who committed the physical crime."
DiNozzo Sr paused for a moment before responding. "Nothing I can say will change your mind will it, you've already made your decision."
"Yes, I need to do this or I will never be able to move on. In fact, this is the main reason I called you. The plan has already been set, we leave tomorrow. The plan is for me and Tim to get ourselves captured. I just wanted you to know."
"Just promise me you will both come back. I can't lose you, and I don't think Gibbs could stand to lose another child."
His father's last comment caught Tony off guard. "What do you mean?"
"Gibbs lost Kelly and now Ziva. You guys may not see it as clearly, but as a father myself I can tell that he thinks of you guys as his children. He may not say it directly, but believe me. I don't think he could take losing you and Tim as well."
"We'll come back dad, I promise."
Pretty please review? ^_^ Compliments, questions, suggestions and constructive criticism gladly accepted...flames not so much