AN: Just as I rather liked AJ Chegwidden, I also liked Bud Roberts... so cameo appearance. And I'd like to remind CBS that I don't own NCIS or JAG.Oonagh's Faith
In the end, Tim said, "I wish we could have seen her alive one last time."
Tony nodded. "Yeah, me too... but then, how would we have known it was the last time? D'you think you -"
"Don't ask me if I would have had a McMystic moment!" Tim snapped.
"Wasn't going to put it like that..." Tony said truthfully, his voice rather small for him.
"Sorry," Tim mumbled.
"Hey, maybe if we'd known that last time was the last time, we'd have been too miserable to enjoy it... D'you really think he came for her?"
"I don't know," Tim answered sadly. "But she believed he did, and that's what matters."
"Well..." Tony said hesitantly... "you did have a – one of those moments just now... and you were right. I nearly rushed in... if she'd still been alive, she'd never have forgiven me."
"Yes she would. She... she's Oonagh."
"We'd better do something... I just don't want to disturb her..."
In the end, the first person they called was Father Barney, so he could pray for Oonagh in peace; then they let the rest of the team and Abby know, and only then did they inform the civilian authorities. Gibbs asked if there was anything he or Ziva could do; not really, he was told, so he started making arrangements to take the team out tonight and, if necessary, get them very drunk.
When they'd given their statements to the local police, they touched Oonagh's hands in farewell, and retreated into the kitchen with the priest; none of them wanting to see her leaving her home for the last time. They made coffee, and leaned against the worktops, feeling lost. Father Barney said gently, "I know you loved her, and I can tell you, she loved you right back. She thought the world of you. You made life so much better for her these last few weeks, you know. She trusted you."
"It would have been hard not to love her," Tony said, and found strength returning to his voice. "I thought I'd seen it all, in my job, Father... but she taught me about dignity and strength in the face of hardship... and I've honestly never known anyone as forgiving. She was a special lady."
"She was all of that," the priest agreed. "She always had faith that one day Ardal would get justice. It never wavered, even when she was nursing him through the strokes – even after he died. And she knew – she told me – the moment she met you two, that you'd get it for him." He paused. There were voices in the living room, but he ignored them. "I watched you at that party of hers," he went on. "The Lord moves in mysterious ways... but I've seen good and bad in my calling, and for what it's worth, I figure the Lord and Oonagh were both right. Seems as good a time as any to give you this," he said. "She said you'd know what to do with it. It's sealed, but hey, I already know what's in it – I witnessed it after all."
Tony took the thick parchment envelope the father had drawn from his inside pocket, opened it and read the document with hands that began to shake. He held it where Tim could see it too. "Oh!" the younger man exclaimed. "That's what she meant!"
Tony looked at him in bewilderment.
"She told me... the day after the arrests... she said, 'I couldn't do both, so I tossed a coin. I think it came out right.' I asked her what she meant and she just smiled and told me I'd know soon enough."
Oonagh had left everything she had to Tony, with Tim as executor.
"Tony, she told us that too! When I talked about her security!"
Tony reached for the memory. "She said... she said, they're all for my grand-daughter... I wouldn't want the wrong people to get them. She was expecting us to see to it, and we didn't know how, then."
"We're to be the guardians, not her mother!"
"You catch on quickly," Father Barney said with his first smile since arriving. "It was simpler not to have co-heirs, so one to hold the rights, and one to oversee... You can see – Admiral Chegwidden himself checked it over. He called Oonagh to see if there was any way he could be of service, which was decent, a great man like him, and I suggested him for the other witness. He says it's watertight, in case anyone tries to object... It was all Oonagh's idea though – I think she was very wise."
Tony smiled, and it was without malice. "She got it right... me the brawn and McGee the brains."
"It felt like it wasn't enough, Tim," Tony said, and his friend didn't have to ask what. "Now it will be."
They each took a keepsake; Tim took the little crystal jar with the spills, and Tony the hand-written kitchen book that fell open easily at the shortbread recipe. They shook hands with the priest, locked the place up securely and left. As they glanced back, Tony knew he'd have to come back with Tim because he couldn't leave him to deal with Oonagh's papers, or the removals company, or the making of an inventory alone, but he really wished never to come back here ever...
In their favourite bar, Caffrey's, that night, Gibbs found it wasn't an expensive shout after all; the twins had no intention of getting drunk. They dropped the bombshell that had been dropped on them earlier, and made plans. For the future... for Oonagh's grand-daughter.
They planned her funeral according to the wishes she'd made known to Father Barney; "No long faces now," she'd told him long ago. She was buried alongside Ardal at Mount Olivet Cemetery in DC; with AJ Chegwidden and Keith Iverson's widow among the mourners, (Gibbs observed a small posy with the anonymous message 'I'm sorry' amongst the flowers,) and afterwards the hospitality was at the church rooms that Oonagh had known well. Tony saw to it that there were violet-blue flowers everywhere, and an abundance of shortbread made to her recipe in the buffet, and only he knew how difficult it was to swallow... He and Tim glanced at each other from time to time and smiled ruefully. No long faces...
Imelda and her friends took care of the clearing up; "A pleasure, Tony. Go on, now."
The mourners left, a few at a time, and suddenly, Tony had had enough of the day. "Guess I'm heading home, Boss, if everyone's OK. McGee?"
"Sure, Tony. Go on. We can talk about Woolley's tomorrow."
The firm in question were who everyone in DC who was in the services or an agency turned to if they were posted abroad, or had to change location in a hurry. They were expert and trustworthy, and yes, certainly they'd make the inventory, before undertaking the specialist long-term storage of Mrs Rourke's possessions. (Tony would never refer to them as his.)
His car was in the far corner of the church parking lot; as he walked slowly across to it, a female voice called sharply, "Are you Anthony DiNozzo?"
Well... he thought, that didn't take long... but right after the funeral? He braced himself and turned.
"Mrs Rutherford?" he asked politely.
The enraged woman hurrying across from the fire-engine red, new plate Solstice had Oonagh's shape of face and there the resemblance ended. Her arm swung without warning, and her leather gloved hand struck him so hard across his jaw and temple he saw stars, and took an involuntary step back.
"So you're the bastard who wormed his way into a vulnerable old lady's life and took advantage of her to get what you've no right to! That stuff's mine! You cheated her out of it, you conniving, smarmy con-man -"
By now the spinning of Tony's head had slowed down. He said measuredly, "I didn't see you at the funeral, Mrs Rutherford. Your mother's funeral."
"She had plenty of friends," she said dismissively. "I want what belongs to me. You can't come along and take what's mine by right... I'll fight you every inch of the way for it, you cheat -"
"You're a journalist, right?" Tony said easily, with an almost invisible 'stay back' hand gesture to his team, who were gathering behind her ready to attack.
"What – what's that got to do with it?"
He flicked his eyes over the car. "You earn good money."
"That's got everything to to with it, Mrs Rutherford. Your mother lived in poverty for eight years – where were you? And this morning you got a copy of her will – and wow, here you are."
"My relationship with my mother is none of your business -"
"And I'm not asking, Naomi... Niamh... but she was my business..." His eyes were sad and his head drooped for a moment, then snapped up again. His eyes blazed; he took his notebook from his pocket and wrote an address down. "Tell you what, if you want to talk about this, about how you're going to fight me, you meet me there, tomorrow morning, say ten am – that'll be enough time for you to alert your lawyer, yes? And I'll tell you then what's going to happen."
"You'll tell me? You'll -" She raised her hand to slap him again, but it was caught from behind.
"Assaulting a federal agent, Ma'am?" Naomi Rutherford twisted round to see not only the young man who was holding her wrist but two other men and two women standing behind him. It was too big an audience; she pulled herself free and stomped back to her car.
"You didn't deserve her," Tony said to her departing back. "She sure as hell didn't deserve you."
Tim slung an arm round his shoulders to steer him away from her. "Lashing out... not like you, Tony."
The SFA sighed, profoundly sadly. "Don't really care right now, Tim."
"No..." his tone the exact echo of his friend's... "s'pose not."
Gibbs looked at them all. "Caffrey's," he said. "Come on."
You wouldn't have known that there were three other people nearby as Tony stood under the trees the next morning in the peaceful haven of Mount Olivet. Beside him stood a man around his own age, who, although shorter, was imposing in the uniform of a Naval Commander. They conversed in low voices. The rest of the MCRT stood among the trees, not deliberately concealing themselves, but inconspicuous. Oonagh had chosen her protector; they were leaving this to Tony, but they had no intention of missing it.
It wasn't long before Naomi Rutherford came marching across the grass. A short, greying man struggled to keep up with her; some way behind, James Rutherford carried his daughter.
"Why have you made me come here? I thought you meant an office – this is -"
"This," Tony said, gesturing at the slight mound clad in fresh turfs with a drift of deep blue flowers, and the older grave next to it, "Is your mother, and this is your father. The stone is gone, to add her name to his. But I don't want you to forget where they are. Seemed a good idea to me to have this talk in front of them."
"Whatever. This is my lawyer, Frank Hoyle. He's-"
"Mrs Rutherford, perhaps it would be best to hear what Special Agent DiNozzo has to say first."
The woman glared at him. "Whose side are you on?"
Tony stepped in smoothly. "This is Commander Roberts," he said calmly. "He's a very distinguished JAG lawyer. For the last few years he's taken a particular interest in the rights of marine and naval dependants who are still in their minority."
Bud Roberts stepped forwards. He didn't offer to shake hands. "Mrs Rourke was quite specific," he said evenly. "She wished everything she had to go to her grand-daughter, and nobody else. There's the sale of the house, which we've already accepted an offer on, her husband's back-pay, and the antique collection. She lived in the poorest of circumstances, rather than sell any of the pieces, so that Isobel could have them."
"What's that got to do with him?"
"Oonagh chose me because she knew that Tim McGee and I would make sure her wishes were carried out," Tony said flatly. "I've already relinquished ownership of everything to a trust for Isobel. The beautiful things your mother kept for her are already in specialist storage; even the piano will be regularly checked and tuned." He sounded almost as dry and lawyerish as Commander Roberts. "They'll be held until Isobel's eighteenth birthday, when everything becomes hers, and the trust will sit down with her to hear her wishes, and advise her if necessary."
"There's also a letter that Mrs Rourke wrote to her when she heard of her birth," Bud Roberts went on, "which the trust will give to her on her eighteenth birthday." He handed a sheaf of papers to the other lawyer. "For your perusal."
"So... Isobel gets it when she's eighteen? I don't get anything?"
The tall agent's green eyes glittered. "Got it in one, Mrs Rutherford."
Naomi's face twitched. "Frank! They can't do this! Fix it!"
"I tried to tell you, Naomi. The will was perfectly legal. I'm sure we'll find the trust is too, although it doesn't matter – it's nothing to do with us. Everything goes to Isobel when she's eighteen."
"If in the meantime," Commander Roberts said reasonably, "she needs anything urgently, she can make application to the trust through an adult third party, to have money for her education for instance, but the misuse of any such money will constitute fraud and be prosecutable."
"I'll handle that for my daughter," James Rutherford said suddenly. "I assure you, there'll be no misuse."
His wife turned on him with a shriek. "What? You'll -"
"Stop shouting, Naomi," the much put-upon Lieutenant Commander said wearily. "This is a cemetery... and you'll frighten Isobel." His wife gaped at him, then turned and Tony was treated to the sight of her storming away for the second time in twenty-four hours. It had all been worth it... James stuck his hand out to him. "Agent DiNozzo... thank you. An excellent arrangement. I'll make sure to explain it to Izzy as she grows up." He smiled at his daughter as she sat on his arm.
The little girl with Oonagh's eyes looked straight at Tony, and he almost lost it. "I'll bring her to visit sometimes," James added softly, looking towards the graves.
"Oonagh would love that," Tony told him. They nodded stiffly at each other, and James too left.
Bud Roberts regarded Tony quizzically. "Was that how you wanted to play it?"
"Couldn't have been better. Thanks for going along with it."
"My pleasure. Not much hope for that marriage, I'd say, but the dad's OK... I'll be on my way."
The team came out of their shadows and called goodbye to Bud as he went off towards the car park, and Tony stood with his eyes closed for a moment.
"Hey..." An arm threaded through his, and he realised that Abby was here too.
"You OK?" That was Tim.
"Yeah, McExecutor... you?"
"Sure. Well, will be."
Ziva was spreading a large picnic blanket out not far from the two mounds.
Tony blinked. "What's this?"
Abby laughed teasingly. "I'm going to propose a toast," she said, dragging the twins over to sit down.
"We've got no drink," Tim protested. "We can't bring drink here..."
Abby dug a tin out of the canvas bag that Gibbs had been holding, and popped the lid. She handed big, crumbly chunks of shortbread round. "We're going to eat a toast," she explained. She held her chunk aloft and thought for a moment. "To Oonagh, who had faith," she said, "and to those who proved she was right."