When Tony wakes up, the curtains are still closed but it is actually dark outside. His almost-migraine has dulled significantly into 'throbbing pressure', which is a significant relief, and somewhere outside of this room he can hear Maria giggling shyly and conversing gently in some Italian, mostly English.
Slowly, to test the waters of his new found lessened pain, Tony levered himself up until he felt free to stand without vomiting, and switched on the lamp to reacquaint himself with light, before even planning on venturing out of this semi-dark haven.
Sitting on the edge of this bed, in a guest room that he helped decorate, Tony can't help but think back on the years before today and how he managed to get himself to this point. He can't help but think about the first time Gibbs stumbled into this room when Tony was around, half drunk on whiskey and grief, instead of his own room with its own bad memories, and about how pained the expression had been on his face when he'd taken in the pastel coloured walls and dusty toys that would never be used again. Tony can't help but remember how much Gibbs had hurt when they had cleared it all away and turned it into just another room, for whoever needed it, because the person it was designed for was gone now.
He can't help but remember the kisses they'd shared outside of that door, out in that hallway, and he certainly can't help but compare them to the one they shared mere hours ago.
That thought sets sharp-edged butterflies off in his stomach, the kind he hasn't felt since their first official 'date'. Like a sickness and a joy and anticipation all rolled up into this tense little ball sitting heavy on his chest and into his stomach and spreading out across his nervous systems.
The sound of deeper laughter echoing up after Maria's giggle drags Tony from his thoughts – from his feelings – and he smiles at the sounds he can hear outside of this door. So as not to tempt fate, Tony takes it slowly as he stands again and begins the trek to find the little girl and whichever guardian is making her laugh when he had thought it would be a long time before anyone heard that sound from her again.
Before he descends the stairs to follow the sound, he peeks his head around the door to the bedroom that he had settled the girls into earlier. Sure enough, Alexis is curled up with her back facing the door, her arms wrapped tight around her middle. Tony knows this position; has seen her wear it and has worn it himself, and he knows better than to disturb her right now. Instead, Tony backs out slowly to let the door click firmly shut quietly and manages to plaster on a smile that makes his temples ache before he heads into the kitchen where the scent of chicken noodle soup is now accompanying the pleasant sounds he had heard when he had woken.
"I hope you said grazie for that, young lady." Tony teases lightly as his young niece dunks her spoon into an overflowing bowl of soup. She jumps a little, shocked by his voice when he is stood behind her and out of sight, before twisting lithely in her chair to grin at him, milk mushtash that Fornell clearly hasn't informed her of framing her upper lip.
"Silly uncle Tony-" Maria giggles, eyes wide and beautiful, "Signor Tobias would not know what it means! I said'thank you' instead!" Tony grins down at her, reaching out to brush away the milk as he drops a kiss to her forehead.
"Good girl, I always knew you took after me in the brains. You're remembering all of your English."
"Mhm, it's very impressive." Tobias backs him up with a smile, handing over to him a cup of coffee; black with what Tony knows will be the perfect amount of sugar. Maria gives them a toothy smile in return before going back to her soup with an achingly familiar gusto.
They watch her together for a little while, Tony revelling in the feeling of caffeine flowing through him and brushing away some of the cobwebs caused by the day, the flight, the kiss and the migraine. Being back in America is, with Alexis and Maria here with him, almost everything he has ever wanted. Especially being in this house. Although things have changed, people have changed, and the circumstances are the most terrible thing he could have imagined in such a long time, it feels like relief to know that he has them at least safe, that someone else has his six while he has theirs.
"Where's Gibbs?" Tony finally gets around to asking once he's almost at the bottom of his cup. Fornell takes it from him, rounding the corner into the kitchen to refill it before handing it back over and leaning up against the counter again.
"Gone to talk to the Directors, maybe the joint chiefs in MTAC. They're going to want you in for a statement soon; last I heard they had gotten someone to translate what came through from your teams out in Italy and they have about another hour of work processing that before they're going to need you." Tony just hums, trying to roll out the tension once again settling in on top of his shoulders. Maria is still slurping away at her soup, and just watching her helps him feel a little more comfortable, but it's hardly enough. He slept when he should have been making sure they were safe, and now he had to make up for that as quickly as possible.
"Tony." Fornell mumbles, quietly, turning towards him more conspicuously. "How are you doing, kid?" Tony lets himself sigh and sag down a moment, scrubbing one hand along his face and letting it rest there until the question doesn't cause as much discomfort as it had.
"I'm coping. I have to, for them." He jerks his head towards the little girl, and then again in the direction of the stairs leading to the bedrooms. "Once I know they're safe, i'll- well, I can deal with it then, can't I?" Tobias just looks at him, familiar blank look plastered on his face before it flickers over with concern and then resignation.
"Alright, but if you need anything.." He lets his sentence trail off when Tony shoots him a smile, small but genuine.
"I know, thank you."
Gibbs calls just a little after Maria had finished eating, requesting all of their presence at the Hoover building. The sound of frustration in his voice is one that Tony knows well, a tone that comes along when Gibbs hasn't gotten his own way; the fact that the FBI would be more involved in this case than NCIS would most certainly would be enough to cause more than just mere frustration in the man.
Fornell helps Maria put her shoes back on and goes out to strap her into the car while Tony heads upstairs to retrieve Alexis. The room is silent when he closes the door behind him, but he knows she is awake by the familiar hitches in her breathing. Not deep enough to be asleep, too uneven to be calm. She flinches, almost imperceptible, when the bed dips as he sits on the edge and reaches out to brush fingers across her shoulder. Gently he coaxes her over, turning until she faces him. The red of her eyes and the swollen, tear streaked cheeks tell him all he needs to know. Sighing, he levers her up and pulls her close, but she won't allow it. As soon as he has his arms around her she pulls away, avoiding his gaze and his touch as she climbs out of the bed around him.
"We have to talk to your superiors, no?" He stares at her, confused, as she moves across the room to slip on her shoes and stand almost completely still by the bedroom door, still refusing to look at him.
"Yeah- um, they want us at the Hoover building. It's probably nothing information wise yet, just be statements. I'll be with Maria while they take yours." Alexis' head snaps up, eyes boring into him from across the room.
"No. You will not be with Maria. No. They will wait, I will be with her. You will not be alone with her. Not anymore." With that, she turns, yanking the door open. Tony hurries to follow her, only managing to get a hand on her arm to stop her from fleeing about half way down the stairs.
"Alexis? What the hell! What are you talking about?"
"Lasciar andare di me!" (Let go of me!)She attempts to shake him off, pulling away before she almost slips and Tony's grip on her is the only thing preventing a seven step tumble.
"Alexis." Tony implores, keeping hold of her. She refuses to even look at him, head down, breathing harshly. "Alexis!" He shakes her lightly until she looks up at him with tears clouding her eyes, a sight that has always caused his chest to contract in the most painful way.
"Bad things happen only when you are in my life. People I love only die whenever you are in my life. Sei come un presagio di morte!"(You're like an omen of death!) He drops her arm, hands going limp by his side, knee's almost buckling under the weight of her words curling around his heart and worming into his mind. Distantly, he hears Alexis draw in a deep, painful breath and he knows she has turned and is disappearing down the stair; he isn't really focusing, eyes blurred and head swimming. It takes an inordinate amount of time for him to realise he is crying.
Tony isn't sure how long he stands there in the middle of the stairs, but it was long enough for Fornell to get worried and come looking for him. He jerks when a hand reaches out and clasps onto his shoulder, and it feels like his mind is mud as he attempts to blink away the remaining tears and focus on whoever is in front of him.
"What the hell is going on, Tony?" There have been few times in Tony's life where he has been completely unable to find the words to describe what has just happened, how much he thinks he may have just lost.
"I- I just-" Tony stuttered, trying to fumble around in his mind for words that would make this okay, to explain it away without giving himself away but he can't. Instead, he sighs and drops his head, unable to look Fornell in the eye.
"Someone other than me needs to be with Maria at all times if Alexis isn't there." Tobias startles, leans in a little closer to try and make eye contact before pulling back again and waiting to see if anything else will be said. Tony can't, won't, say anything else. There's too much and not enough inside of his head and he needs just this one thing to be taken care of so that he can keep going until the threat is gone.
"Yeah." Fornell says finally, quietly. "Yeah, sure Tonio. Don't worry about it." Blinking once again to dispel the tears blurring his vision, Tony sniffs and nods, before shouldering his way past his friend and heading out as quickly as possible to the car. Maria is curled up as close to her mother as possible while being strapped in, and she grins at him in a way that causes an almost physical ache in his heart. Alexis doesn't even look up at him as he climbs into the seat in front of her, burying her face in her daughters hair in the only show of affection he's seen from her since Italy. Tony jerks his gaze away as quickly as he can, fearful that this may be the last time he gets to see them like this and unable to hurt himself more by focusing on that.
He is thankful that Fornell is climbing into the car just a moment later and getting them on their way. Distractions, as painful and nerve wrecking as they may be, are more than welcome right now. And thankfully, he's got an entire building of them waiting.
Gibbs had leaned against the wall outside the room Tony was resting in for almost a quarter of an hour before shaking himself off and heading back downstairs. Every time he tried to focus on something else, the feeling of Tony against him and the vivid memory of that kiss played over and over. Flashes and waves of memories, similar kisses and similar feelings in a similar hallway following each time he brought his hand up to brush over his mouth. The scent of Tony still lingered on him, the feel of him in his arms was a weight he wasn't ready to shake.
It seemed like hardly a moment ago when he was waking up, lost and confused, thinking that his wife and child had just died. Yet in some ways, it felt like a lifetime ago that he met and loved and almost lost Tony. He wonders, has wondered since those first memories came back to him, how he could have ever forgotten. How he could have known love, the kind he thought you could only have once, and then let a measly thing like brain damage take that away from him.
He had left Fornell, and some well placed FBI agents, in charge of keeping the people inside of his home safe. It felt unusual, working so closely with the FBI and all of them being on the same page. In some ways, he muses as he makes his way to the Navy yard, Tony leaving them and going to the other agency had improved things for them all.
If anything Tony's change in career had changed everything for the better; communication between the alphabet agencies was getting better, Gibbs finally had those invisible pieces of his memory become visible again, the true natures of people he once thought he could trust and work with were coming out in ways that should be hurting him but feel like just one more facet of the truth.
He wonders if maybe, Tony has always been the good thing in this life.
He wonders, once again, how he ever could have forgotten that.
The call from McGee comes through when he's halfway to the NCIS building, and although he knows he shouldn't, he has to answer it. Anything could have happened, and in this uncertain time he had to be aware of everything.
This was one phone call he could have done without, though.
"Vance has done what?" He growls down the phone, taking some sadistic pleasure in the way that McGee stumbles and searches for his words like he is once again a brand new, squeaky clean probie.
"H-he has transferred the- um – the case directly to the FBI. Their director- Vance says-" The kid takes in an audible breath to steady himself, but Gibbs can already tell what is going to be said. Twisting the car sharply, he directs himself towards the Hoover building instead of the yard.
"You're needed at the Hoover building instead." McGee is finally choking out by the time Gibbs has completed the manoeuvre.
"Thanks Tim." Gibbs replies before flipping his phone shut and throwing it into the empty chair beside him, thankful at least to know that the FBI actually wants him to be useful instead of him having to do it without permission.
Statements, Tony thinks, are incredibly frustrating when you are the one giving them instead of taking them.
Once they had arrived at the building, he had glimpsed Gibbs being taken into a room and then they were all instructed to find a place to sit and stay there. One person at a time; Alexis, Maria and himself were taken into separate rooms by individual agents, some of which Tony could identify as part of the team working on his father. Fornell himself had stayed with Maria the entire time, entertaining her with poorly executed jokes that she probably didn't understand in English and showing her how to use the drawing app on his phone.
Alexis had sat two seats away from him and refused to even send a glance his way.
Waiting was a long and painful experience, unable to do anything to get lost in his own mind and the memories of the past twenty four hours; and giving his statement hadn't been any better. Being forced to relive every moment from realising his family was in trouble to coming back to America. It hurt, more than he ever expected, and he dreaded to think the effect this would be having on the girls.
Thankfully, Gibbs was waiting outside of the room when he was done, holding a cup of coffee that smelt damn near perfect and that embarrassed little smile that Tony had missed so, so much.
"You are my actual saviour, thank you." Tony had whined once he had his hands wrapped around the take-out cup. Gibbs laughed, glancing down before composing himself and looking back up, eyes concerned.
"Are you okay?" Tony chuckled lowly around his mouthful of sinfully delicious coffee.
"Been better." He finally replied after he had swallowed. Gibbs seemed to hesitate for a moment before reaching out and brushing his fingers through the spiky tufts of hair falling over Tony's forehead. Tony leaned into the touch once Gibbs' hand moved down to cup the side of his face, closing his eyes and sighing lightly. It had been too long since comforting touches were a thing between them. It was amazing, that even after a year of separation and oblivious ignorance on Gibbs' part that this could still feel as good as it had all those months ago.
"We'll figure this out, okay." Tony isn't sure which 'this' he's talking about. "I promise." He nods his agreement anyway, letting himself revel in the warm palm pressed against his skin for another moment before giving himself permission to pull away from its comfort.
They stand there in silence for a while, sipping at their coffee's in relative silence, before Agent Simell, the second in command for the team on his father, rounded the corner and seemed to deflate in relief.
"There you are, Tony. We need you to come up to the Ops room." He stops, looks them both over and smirks a little. "Gibbs can come too." With that, he turns and disappears back around the corner he came from, leaving the both of them to follow quickly to keep up.
There is a commotion in the Ops room when they arrive, people rushing and shouting, screens lighting up with satellite images and camera stills. It's obvious that a team is moving in on someone, and Agent Wilks, the lead on the team, is stood in front of the biggest screen in the room, gesturing towards whatever is happening up there and talking into his ear piece with urgent surety. They approach quickly, standing to the side of the agent and watching as the little green satellite blips that indicate other agents move as a cohesive unit on the screen, following one single red blip moving quickly ahead of them.
"Twenty meters in front of you, approach with caution. Suspect will be armed and dangerous. I repeat- Suspect will be armed and dangerous. We want him alive but I want you all back home safe. Approach with extreme caution." Wilks stops talking and turns to them, apprehension and relief both plastered in contradictory lines on his face.
"What's going on?" Both Tony and Gibbs ask at the same time. Wilks looks them over, amused, before gesturing back at the screen.
"We got him." Gibbs' hand on his elbow is a steady, secure rock holding him here.
"My father? You got my father?" Tony asks hesitantly. Wilks' face falls momentarily, smoothing out soon after into its previous expression.
"Not yet, but we will. For now-" He waves a hand in the direction of the screen. "We got Danvers."