AN: I'm sorry about the wait. It's been a rough few months. Hopefully my next chapter will be a bit longer, have more cheerful moments.
Again, I wish to remind everyone that I do not intend to bash any characters. This chapter might seem a bit harsh on some, but it is only the beginning of 'family therapy'. This is a fanFICTION.
Also, Tony got little to no positive attention as a child, and it has an effect on him still. He also wears a mask. His not-too-smart mask has been very effective in the show. He also pretends like the "teasing" doesn't bother him. Some people, when abused emotionally, start hiding any so-called weaknesses. That is, they hide hurt feelings when the people they consider family tease them about a dinner they weren't invited to. Or when they are told one moment that they're irreplaceable, then teased about not being dead. Or treated like they're stupid because their degree isn't good enough. Told they don't deserve the promotion they were just offered. Sent away as a "not-a-punshiment" for following orders. So, Tony hides that those remarks cut deeper than he'd like. He also acts out for attention from Papa Gibbs. It's the only attention Senior ever gave him, and the easiest to get. It's also why he practically begs for compliments from Gibbs.
Tony sat down on the couch, and eight year old Ashley promptly climbed up next to him and snuggled into his side. Tony simply wrapped his right arm around her, and picked up his steaming mug of chamomile tea with his left hand. He carefully sipped on the hot beverage before setting it down and saying, "Is everyone ready?"
"I am," Gibbs said, sitting down in a wingback chair across from Tony and Ashley. "What about you Duck?" he asked.
Ducky, who was seated in the matching wingback chair, answered, "I am quite ready, Jethro, Anthony."
Rachel walked into the room carrying two steaming mugs of tea, and placed one down on the table between Ducky and Gibbs before seating herself next to Ashley. "I am as well, and Abby should be in here momentarily."
"Here I am," Abby said cheerfully, coming into the room. McGee and Ziva were following in her wake. Abby was clutching her Caf-pow, and upon seeing that almost every seat was already taken, walked up to Gibbs and sat on his lap.
Gibbs rolled his eyes, uncrossed his arms and wrapped them around her waist.
McGee looked a little annoyed at Abby's seat, but after realizing that he'd prefer her on Gibbs' lap to Tony's, felt better about her seat. After all, Gibbs was like her father; Tony…he wasn't sure about.
Tim looked around the room for a seat, and realized that he'd either have to squeeze in next to Rachel, or sit on the floor. If he sat beside Rachel, then Ziva would be on the floor, and his mother would be furious if she found out that he'd let a woman sit on the floor.
Ziva, seeing Tim sit on the floor by Ducky's chair, did sit next to Rachel, though neither she nor McGee had thought about Jimmy and Breena.
When the couple came in from outside where Breena had been on the phone with her dad, they noticed the lack of seats in the room, and did the smart thing. They brought two chairs in from the dining room.
"Are we ready now?" Tony asked.
A chorus of yeses came from everyone with one, "Of course, silly," from the child cuddling against Tony.
Tony smiled at the little girl beside him, and then plugged a flash drive into the laptop on the coffee table in front of him.
He sighed and said, "Things haven't been right with our team…family in a long time. This was just the last straw." With that, he hit play, and Tim and Ziva heard their own voices playing.
Ziva looked confused about why Tony was playing it, but McGee looked mortified, his face turning pink.
When the audio file ended, Abby cried out, "How could you?" and started struggling to get up, but Gibbs held her tightly.
"Abby, calm down," Gibbs said, clearly having trouble holding her in place.
"You-you…traitors!" Abby spat.
"Abby," Ziva said, but before Ziva could do more than address the other woman, Abby snapped.
"NO! You don't get to speak," Abby said, tears smearing her eyeliner.
"Abby," Tony said softly.
The Goth looked at him.
"I'm taking care of it," he said, and after a pause he continued, "My way."
Abby beamed. "I like it when you do things your way, Tony," she said.
"What exactly is going to happen now?" McGee asked.
"Exactly?" Tony said, grinning, "I have no idea. I'm making this up as I go along." His smile dropped off his face here. "Make no mistake, McGee, David. We either fix this now, or you're off the team. I AM your boss…I am second only to Gibbs. As far as the two of you are concerned, even the Director is beneath me on the authority totem pole. This is my show, and I decide when you are trusted again." Tony looked more serious than they had ever seen him before.
Tony continued, "You will learn to follow my orders without question. You will learn to respect me for who I am, and not the mask I show everyone else. That apparently means that I will have to explain just who I am to you, since you haven't bothered to find out before this." He nodded to Gibbs.
Gibbs eased Abby off of his lap, and placed her in his seat. He grabbed an old Marine duffle bag from behind the chair and walked over to McGee. "Put all electronics in this bag, now," Gibbs said.
"Welcome to boot camp, DiNozzo style," Tony said.
Tim looked from one man to another, and then dropped his phone and Ipod in the bag. "My laptop and tablet are in the dining room."
Gibbs nodded. "Ziva," he said, turning to the woman.
She dropped in her cell phone.
"Watch and sunglasses too, David," Tony said. "I saw your Israeli friend slip you a package the last time she visited you."
Ziva sighed harshly, and dug into her purse at her feet, pulling out a pouch.
Just as she was about to drop it in the bag, Tony said, "Hand me the pouch." She did, and Tony pulled a pair of sunglasses out. He put them on, and looked around the room. "Hmm, the dining room wall needs to be torn down; there are carpenter ants in it." He tossed the sunglasses and the pouch into the bag.
Ziva removed her watch and threw it in the bag too.
"Abby," Gibbs said. "I'm sorry, but we need your things too."
She threw in her cell phone and Ipod. "My laptop is in the trailer," she said.
He turned to Ducky, who threw his cell phone in without prompting, as did Jimmy.
"You can keep yours, Breena, since you will be coming and going," Tony said. "Gibbs, over here too," he said. He threw in his own phone, and Rachel added hers as well. "Rachel will keep her laptop, as she might need it for our therapy sessions," he continued.
Gibbs tossed his own phone in, then entered the dining room and grabbed the laptop case from the table. He then went out to the trailer and grabbed Abby's laptop from the trailer, and added it to the duffle. Re-entering the house, he said, "Tony informed me that I'd be in charge of this, so don't even think about trying to sneak something out." He dropped the bag none-too-gently on the floor.
McGee and Abby winced.
"You are now mine," Tony said, grinning. "You get up when I say. You run when I say. You work when I say. If I tell you to go jump in a lake, you go out back and jump in the lake."
McGee gulped, remembering his Probie days of dumpster diving.
"Sir, yes, sir," Abby said cheerfully, saluting Tony. She was the only cheerful looking person in the room.
"I do not even understand what we did wrong," Ziva said, looking confused. "What did we do to deserve this?"
"I think our first therapy session should begin now," Rachel said. "Ashley, go watch TV upstairs." Ashley left the room and hurried up the staircase. Rachel then said, "As for what you did…Tim seems to understand. Why don't you explain it to her?"
McGee blushed and stared at his hands. "We broke an agency rule. Never leave a partner without backup. Not to mention, Gibbs' rule: Never screw over your partner. Tony was undercover and we left him without backup. He doesn't trust us anymore, and I don't really blame him," McGee said, "If he had done that to us, we'd be furious."
"I think I understand now," Ziva said, looking a bit embarrassed. "That never occurred to me before."
"I think we need to find out your reasons for what you did," Rachel said. "Your real reasons, not the lies you tell yourself."
"He is always talking and we are tired of it," Ziva said. "That is why we turned off the sound. What other reason could there be?"
"Tell me how you feel about the fact that Tony killed your boyfriend," Rachel said.
"Did he tell you that?" Ziva asked stiffly.
"No, Ziva," she said, "I was given all of your files when I accepted the position as NCIS psychologist, and I read through them last night in preparation. How do you feel about it, Ziva?"
"I am…hurt, and a bit angry," Ziva said. "I am also confused about how Tony could beat Michael in a fight. Michael was Kidon, and even when drunk he should have beaten Tony."
"You've never seen Tony fight for his life," Gibbs said from where he was standing between McGee and Ziva. "He's a good fighter in the ring, but when his life or more importantly, someone else's life is in danger, he becomes someone else. He pushes himself so far past what he does in the ring that he could beat just about anyone in a fight. It's his stubborn nature. He doesn't give up…ever. It's why we're here. Anyone else would have quit after I came back from Mexico, but Tony didn't give up on us. Jen even offered him Team Lead in Rota, but he refused." Gibbs smiled at Tony. "Like I said, he doesn't give up."
McGee looked slightly ill as he was reminded of his cruel words to Tony, following Gibbs return to NCIS.
"Why would Tony feel that he needed to fight Michael? He could have left and talked to me another time," Ziva said.
Tony sighed deeply. "Ziva, I was placing him under arrest, and he attacked me with lethal force. I had no choice."
"There is always a choice!" Ziva said with a sob.
"He was about to stab me with a very long, sharp piece of glass," Tony said softly. "While he was coming at me with it, I told him to stop…not to do it. He was almost on top of me when I finally shot him. If I hadn't done that, it would have been my body that Ducky autopsied."
"You – you were just jealous of him," Ziva said, sounding desperate.
"Ziva," Tony said, "I do love you, just not like that. You are certainly attractive, sexy and lots of fun to flirt with, but I've never been interested in a sexual or romantic relationship with you. At first because you were Ari's sister…"
"How do you know that?" Ziva gasped. "Gibbs would not tell you."
Everyone but Tony, Gibbs and Rachel looked surprised.
Tony sighed. "I'm an investigator, Ziva. I've seen the picture of you and your siblings. It was pretty easy for me to see the man in the boy's face." He paused then continued, "Later on, once I got to know you, it was because I began to look at you as my amazing little sister and intimidating assassin. I was never jealous of Michael, though I did worry that he might be using you."
"Michael wouldn't," Ziva said, openly crying.
"Ziva, he tried to kill me, your co-worker and friend, when I was arresting him. Honestly, I wouldn't have put much past him," Tony said.
Ziva started to sob, and Gibbs sat on the arm of the couch and began to hug her. Ziva buried her face against Gibb's chest and sobbed into him. Gibbs rubbed her back with one hand, and buried his other in her hair.
"Let's take a break from this subject for while, and come back to it later," Rachel said. "Tim, what do you think your reasons were?"
McGee stared at his hands, looking uncomfortable at being the center of attention. "It's just…I thought it was just a joke. It's Tony…no matter what happens to him, he always comes through just fine. So, I figured nothing would happen, and if it did, he'd come through it without any trouble. He's just perfect all the time."
"You sound a bit resentful, Tim," Rachel said, softly.
McGee sighed gustily, and shook his head. "It's just...I can work really hard to find out information for a case, and Tony will just sit around doing practically nothing, but when we give our information to Gibbs, Tony's is always better. Everyone can tell that even if Abby is the favorite, Tony is the perfect one. He can do no wrong where Gibbs is concerned."
"He headslaps me at least five times as often as you and Ziva," Tony said, "I am not perfect, and he knows it."
"It's not just that. You tease me all the time, and no matter what I tease you about, it doesn't bother you," Tim said, nearly whining.
"It doesn't bother me?" Tony said incredulously. "Do you think being teased for only having a Phys. Ed degree doesn't bother me? Do you think I like it when I almost never get compliments from Gibbs, when you get them all the time and rub them in my face? Do you think I like it when you tease me about my so-called easy life because I came from a family with money? And constantly tell me how my father is so much better than I am," He sighed heavily. "It does bother me; sometimes it even hurts like I've been stabbed. If I learned anything from my dad besides the fact that I'll never be good enough, it's to never let anyone see a weakness. They'll use it against you," Tony said bitterly. "I don't really think any of you would use things against me if you knew how much it bothers me, but by now it is force of habit to pretend that nothing's wrong."
"Oh," was all McGee could think to say in response. After a moment he said, "I just…get so frustrated sometimes. You seem to be able to get the number of any woman, and I struggle to get to that point. You are the kind of guy who was a popular kid in school. Like the kids who picked on me. Almost anything I can do, you do better, faster and with more style."
"Wait…you think I was popular?" Tony said incredulously. "Up until I was about twelve, I was the smallest kid in my class in every school I ever went to. I was also the rich kid, which meant I had a huge red target on my back. Once I was sent to military school, when I was ten, it didn't get any easier. You have no idea what it's like being in the puny rich kid surrounded by military brats who think you're spoiled rotten. My only 'friends' back then were the teachers, my drill instructor, and my coach. As for the women, I don't use those numbers unless they're a witness. I can't bring myself to date a woman who is only interested in my looks, my supposed wealth, or even my badge. I only did for a few years after my ex-fiancé left me at the altar. I haven't dated women like that since Kate died."
McGee and Ziva both looked surprised at this. Gibbs just looked proud.
"I think we could use a break for a while," Rachel said.
After a moment, everyone got up to unload the trailer.
Several hours later…
Tony should have expected to be cornered, but he'd been so busy telling everyone what room they'd be staying in, unpacking and organizing his plans for the next few days, that he hadn't thought about it.
"So, Tony," Ziva said, walking in his room without knocking, followed by McGee. "Whose house is this?"
Tony looked up from the notebook he had been writing in at his desk, and said simply, "Out."
"Huh?" McGee said.
"Out," Tony said, "Until you learn to knock and receive permission before entering someone's room."
"That is ridiculous," Ziva said, even as Tim tugged her out by her arm.
A moment later there was a knock on Tony's door. "Enter," he said calmly, shutting the notebook, and turning to face the two entered again, looking a bit sheepish.
"We were just wondering whose house this is," Tim said.
Tony leaned back in his chair slightly, just observing them. Then he said, "This is my house."
"You own a house?" McGee said at the same time as Ziva said, "Why do you have a house?"
Tony smiled slightly. "Yes, I own a house," he said. "I have it because back when I was Team Leader, I needed a retreat where I could be myself, and be accepted. My frat brother Dave had it for a vacation home, but hadn't been here for two years before he loaned me the use of it. I bought it in 2009. Since then, I've been fixing it after Dave's neglect."
"This house is amazing," Tim practically gushed, "What could possibly need to be fixed?"
"You mean besides the carpenter ant damage in the dining room?" Tony asked. "The roof needed to be patched, the stables were a mess, there was a family of bats in the shed out back, and the Jacuzzi had mechanical problems."
"There are stables too?" Ziva asked in shock.
"They aren't in use yet," Tony said. "I have to hire someone who can take care of horses before I buy one for Ashley. That person will also be caretaker as I can't get out here every week."
"You are going to buy Ashley a horse?" Tim asked.
"Do you have to keep repeating things back to me as questions," Tony said, sighing heavily. "I wanted to buy one for her last birthday, but Rachel insisted that I wait until Ashley had some lessons in riding and caring for horses. She finally gave me permission to get her one for Christmas."
"How can you afford all this?" Ziva asked, waving her hand about in a vague manner.
Tony leaned forward and placed his elbows on his knees. "That really isn't any of your business, but I'll answer it anyway. When my maternal grandfather died, my mother was just twenty, and hadn't met my dad yet. She inherited a quarter of the money he left, the rest going to Uncle Clive, her older brother. When she was pregnant with me, she wrote a will that would place it all in a trust account for me until I was thirty-five, with Uncle Clive and my dad as trustees. My paternal grandfather died when I was sixteen, he did not have a good relationship with my dad, and left his entire estate to me as well. I was unaware of it at all, until the FBI did a background check on me during an op in Philly. Fornell was the person who told me about it. Apparently the lawyers were unable to find me. Most likely because I moved so much."
"Why did you not tell us?" Ziva asked, sitting on the bed in shock.
"I didn't want you to all tease me about it, or expect me to quit," Tony said. "Also I was hazed by the cops in Philadelphia when they found out who my dad was. I didn't want to be hazed at NCIS if word got around about my inheritance."
"The real question is 'Does Gibbs know about the house and money?'" McGee said.
"Are you kidding," Tony said. "Of course he does. He was the first person I called about the inheritance. As for the house, who do you think helped me fix the roof?"
"Did he also help with the Jacuzzi?" McGee said, looking somewhat smug.
"No," Tony said, noticing Tim's expression. "I did that myself."
"And it works?" McGee said in an incredulous tone.
"Yes," Tony said, standing. "If you don't mind," he said, gesturing to the door. "I have to go help Rachel with dinner."
"Maybe I should help instead," Ziva said. "I'm not sure I trust you with cooking."
Tony stiffened. "We are here because I lost trust in you. I would appreciate it if you'd both stop making fun of my abilities. For the record, I'm Italian. Italians are renowned for their cooking abilities."
He gestured again to the door, and followed the two out of the room.
In the kitchen…
"Hey, Princess," Tony said, kissing Ashley on the head. She was seated on a stool at the island, humming as she frosted cupcakes.
Abby grinned up at him from her seat beside Ashley. "Ash offered to help me with the cupcakes," she said, "And she has been a wonderful help."
"So, she made you an offer you couldn't refuse," Tony said with a wink.