It was the first time since... Actually, he couldn't remember the last time. It was the first since forever almost when he'd had his last peaceful day and also had a whole day off to enjoy it. And he wasn't injured either. Even his mind was at peace for a change and he didn't feel stressed out every moment of the day.
So maybe he should have just stayed home and done the whole 'sit back, watch some movies and just relax ', which he had told everyone else he was going to be doing. But then, instead of ordering some pizza, he had decided to go for a run and maybe stop by for some of that 'DiNozzo special '. Surely Isaac would've been happy to have his company while he wasn't in need for some distraction.
He hadn't been completely clueless. Although life was sometimes starting to feel close enough to being normal again, and he even felt like he was finally almost in control of his own brains. But then that phone call happened...
- FLASHBACK -
Walking out of the elevator, side by side, the two men were both ready to get back to work. Seeing Kate already sitting behind her desk, Tony looked at Gibbs, who held back his urge to roll his eyes.
"You make sure there's enough real coffee for me and I'll behave."
Kate looked up when the two men returned. She was feeling stressed out and hadn't dared to use her coffee break. Instead she had been working on the case for almost the whole time the other two were gone. "What's so funny?" She asked, seeing the amused grin on Tony's face. Hopefully that amusement wasn't aimed toward her... She was already dreading the whole idea of more long hours of working under Gibbs's watchful eyes.
"Nothing. Boss was just being himself."
"On it, boss. Getting back to work now, boss. Kate. Why don't you share what you and Abby found?"
Sitting behind his desk, Tony tuned out both Kate and Gibbs when his phone rang. Glancing up, he saw that neither one of the two was paying any attention to him now. Seeing the familiar number, his mind went numb for a moment. Why now? He had hoped that somehow this day would never come...
And perhaps that's why he now was in this situation. Sitting in the car, blindfolded and a gun held against his head. Had he not tried to keep his life as normal as possible, he wouldn't be here right now. Ah, Eugene was going to be so mad at him... After all the training... And Gibbs. Gibbs was going to kick his ass for not answering his phone if the man decided to call him.
"So, all this for not answering one phone call? Bit dramatic, isn't it?" The answer was to have the unknown weapon holder push the gun harder against his head. Someone swore loudly in Italian.
"Peppino! We were told to bring him back alive!"
"Father never said we couldn't 'toughen him up'. I swear, Paolo, this guy has too big mouth for his own good. If he keeps using it too much, my trigger finger might just slip."
"Then keep it off the trigger."
"Sure, and why not just hand him the gun while we're at it?"
Tony kept his mouth firmly shut this time. Obviously the two didn't know he could understand every word they were saying and he liked to keep it that way. For now.
While they kept talking, Tony was slowly working on freeing his hands, which were tied up behind his back. To his relief these two didn't seem to be criminal masterminds since the rope wasn't tied up all that skillfully. They had taken everything from him that could be used as a weapon, but he was prepared to improvise. Once his hands were finally free, he listened closely, trying to figure out if anyone was looking at him right now. At least the gun wasn't about to push a hole in his head anymore.
Mentally feeling Gibbs head slapping him, Tony muttered his reply silently, which was drowned by the arguing of the two men. "Not like you wouldn't take that chance, boss, so please shut up while I'm trying to think..."
Knowing very well that his next move could be his last, in one swift move Tony removed the blindfold and grabbed the gun from Peppino, whose eyes widened just a moment before he let out a choking sound. Paolo who was driving, hit the breaks, stopping the car in the middle of the empty road.
"And now... I believe I have found my wild card. Thank you for the weapon by the way. Not exactly what I would have chosen, but it'll do." Tony smirked. His one arm was around Peppino's throat in a tight hold, but not too tight. Just enough to make the man panic. His other hand was pointing the small handgun at Paolo. The weapon was surprisingly small one for such 'big bad' guys as these two were trying to be. It was almost too small for his finger to even pull the trigger if it came to that.
"So, which one of you two will tell me? What does the old Voltolini want?" He couldn't see the look on Peppino's face, but Paolo looked startled, while his twin brother kept struggling. Gasping for his breath, the man didn't realize it was mostly his own panic causing his current distress.
"I guess this leaves just you then, Paolo," Tony spoke in Italian. Leaving no question whether he had the power over them right now or not.
If he wanted, he could have made them drive him all the way back to D.C., but he had been listening to the two of them talking long enough on their way toward the Baltimore area that he had became too curious for his own good. Curious and almost like Gibbs on his bad day, when the man was ready to shoot someone over one cup of spilled coffee.
The place they were heading to was most likely the same place where Teddy had taken both him and Gibbs last time. So he could also just tie them up, leave them on the road somewhere and drive there himself. He could do almost anything right now and for the first time he truly realized why Angelo might be so disappointed in his own kids. While he had no idea what kind of people the other four were like, these two here certainly acted all though, but when it came to some truly serious situation they became couple of cowards. One scared to death, when he was causing the misery himself. The other afraid of a tiny handgun, which wouldn't necessarily even cause that big damage. If the man was willing to take the risk of course.
"Father, he... We don't know what father wants from you. He gave us orders and we are following them. That's all." Paolo swallowed, his eyes never leaving the tiny weapon in Tony's hand, which in all honesty looked more like a replica of a children's toy and not the other way around.
Tony narrowed his eyes, studying the man who was about ten years older than him. A man who had gone from his tough 'get in the car if you don't want your brains to be decorating the streets ' to almost ready to wet his pants. Why would Voltolini send these two after him?
Shaking his head, Tony searched from his memory the face of the old man. Finding it, he looked at Paolo in the eyes and putting up his best 'daddy Voltolini' act, he snarled. "Take me to him." When Paolo was clearly bemused by the request, Tony raised his voice, using Italian again. "Now!"
Angelo stood by the window of his study. Mostly because from there he had the best view of anyone coming to the house, but it was also his own personal 'safe room', should anything happen. Complete with a secret door and room.
Seeing the car stopping in front of the house, he had to laugh. Perhaps he was making things a little bit too easy for the Detective. No. Agent. That was nice upgrade from the last position... So maybe it had been making things too easy, but he had known the young man would come anyway. Either because of curiosity or anger. Watching as his sons—and embarrassment to the family name—allowed the man to order them around, Angelo walked to the phone laying on his desk and called the kitchen, giving an order to bring something for them to eat and drink. For him and his 'guest'.
It took mere four minutes and seventeen seconds for Anthony to find his way in the room. In a house this big, that was impressive and it was what Angelo said the moment the door nearly flew open, with Paolo almost falling inside the room.
"Impressive, and close to the record, which is still held by myself from my younger days," Angelo spoke as he put put down the timer he had been holding.
"You two. Scram," Tony said and finally released Peppino who had already passed out once in the car and couldn't wait to get lost fast enough. Together with his brother, they disappeared. Then Tony pointed at Angelo with the gun in his hand. "And you. Talk."
Angelo took one look at the weapon and he laughed. "You do not scare me with your toy, Anthony..."
"Figured as much. Just needed to check that stupidity doesn't run in the family... Besides, it's not even loaded. Found that out half way in here... Small or not, it's still too light to have any bullets in it..." Seeing the free chair, Tony sat on it, after putting the 'toy' away. "So you made me come all the way here. On my very rare and much needed day off too if I may add... My time is limited, so talk."
While Tony was still speaking, both the food and drinks were brought in the room. Not surprisingly, Tony didn't even glance toward any of it.
Angelo sighed and rolled his thumbs. "Two years, Anthony. I was hoping you would have called me by now. I am hurt."
"I never had any intention of calling you. And my phone number is private, not to mention I keep changing it at least once per year. I'm surprised you had it."
"I have my ways."
"You've done background check on me," Tony stated blankly, while the old man just smiled and leaned back on his big chair, looking like a king talking to his servant.
"And you have done it on me. So I believe we are even. Now... I do know however that there is some information you have been unable to find, am I correct?"
Tony kept the look on his face neutral as he was wondering which information Voltolini was referring to.
"Ziva David. I believe that is the name?"
Keeping the mask firmly on his face, Tony laughed inwardly. But of course... "What is it that you want? I'm sure you wouldn't be handing over any information freely or you would've just phoned me..."
"I could have, if you had picked up your phone."
"...or sent the information to me through some other ways. Let's stop the games, Voltolini, and get straight to the business. Why am I here?"
"I want to make a deal with you, Anthony... Please, allow me to finish explaining before you stop me."
Tony gave him a blank stare. He had a bad feeling about all of this, which of course wasn't surprising. It shouldn't take a genius to figure out that everything about the man was only bad news. One way or another.
"Thank you... I am an old man and while my own generation is still strong, it is slowly dying and my children are weak. As you know, my hands are not clean and they never will be, but I will let you know a secret... My children are weak because our blood is not what it used to be, but also because I raised them weak. As a revenge against my own father, but that is a story for another time."
Tony briefly glanced at the door when one of Voltolini people stepped inside the room. A woman who looked strangely familiar...
"I want you to marry my daughter."
"What?" Tony gaped and the woman walked next to the old man. She looked calm and Tony finally remembered where he had seen her before. Finally it clicked why the old man had shared all that seemingly useless information about his family and those photo albums, way back when they first met. This one had to be the youngest child, Italia. While not looking like her father, she certainly resembled the man far more than the twins. It was the way she carried herself and she seemed to have the same 'spirit' as her father. Not a good thing.
"I want you to marry Italia. I want you to become the son of this family and then I can leave my seat to you. Whether you two will have a divorce after my death or not, it is out of my reach. I have no true power from my grave. What I want is for you to become part of this family. To destroy it from the inside. It is the only way it can be done. In return, you will be a very rich man."
Tony had been silent, but now he snorted. Somehow he didn't think it would be that easy. "I don't need your money, Voltolini." There was a very short moment of surprise in the old man's eyes, which told Tony that however deep Voltolini's background search on him had been, it hadn't been deep enough. Indeed, they were 'even'.
"You're a cold blooded murderer. Why would you want to destroy this all?"
"I want redemption. Every once in a while even a man like myself finds that the life beyond this one is... uncertain."
Tony tried reading any lies from the awfully sincere look in the man's eyes, but came back with nothing. Though his gut wasn't ringing any alarm bells right now, he still wasn't going to trust a man like this. A man who had most likely even killed children, or at the very least some of his people had done it with his blessing. There was no redemption for people like that. "Why?"
"Like I said, I am an old man. I do not have much time left. I wish to be able to do one good deed before death comes to collect me."
"Why not just help the poor then or something? Isn't that what you're good at?" Tony snorted again as he remembered the squeaky clean image that the family had, which would turn the pope green with jealousy. The more clean the image was on the outside, usually the truth was so much worse. It didn't matter how white and pure looking it was if inside it was full of dead men's bones and all manner of unspeakable evil.
"Ah, but it does not satisfy me. I need something more. Something grand. I want to take down not only my own family, but the families working under me. If I die without doing anything, someone else will take my place and the same will continue. Only the new generation has no control and are lacking in discipline. I need you, Anthony. It will not only make my blood strong once again, but it will also give all of us what we want. I am giving you this family on a silver plate."
Tony stood up. He was feeling slightly creeped out and almost like he was some breeding dog or horse. Very much like his own father would've been had the man not disowned him before he was old enough to be married off to some rich man's daughter. The situation couldn't have been more ironic. Despite being cut off from the family, he still was in that exact situation. Or the threat of it. "I'm flattered, but I'm not exactly planning to get married..."
"It would be in name only, Anthony... Of course there would be children, but that is all I am asking."
Glancing toward the outwardly emotionless woman who had barely even looked at him, other than maybe through him, Tony's mind automatically rated her looks and he head slapped himself, shocking the other two for a moment into looks of wide eyed expression. Sure, the woman looked pretty and very Italian so her name was appropriate, but after Wendy—and Jeanne—and now his current lifestyle, he really did not care to be even thinking about settling down. Especially with her...
Hearing some noise from outside the room, Tony listened for a few seconds and then a wide grin spread on his face. "I'll think about it. Right now is not a good time to talk about that..."
Angelo studied him for a moment, then nodded his head. Italia took a CD from her father and she had barely given it to Tony, when the door was kicked wide open.
Gibbs, with a furious look on his face, held his weapon against the head of Paolo and snarled. "Let him go, you—!"
By then Tony had slipped the CD inside his pocket as he spoke, interrupting Gibbs. "Boss. It's fine. I was already on my way out."
"I'll explain later. You can let go of Paolo now. He's already had enough excitement for today I'm sure." Tony moved closer and he had to practically pry open the hand still holding Paolo. The hand was almost white from the raw force that had been used to hold the man. Gibbs blinked few times and although he hesitated, he trusted DiNozzo to know what he was doing, so he finally lowered his gun. A real gun and not a toy.
Italia took hold of her brother when he began to fall toward the floor almost as soon as he was released.
"I will see you again, Anthony," Angelo said with a promise.
With barely a glance over his shoulder, Tony left the place with Gibbs hot on his heels. It was only then that Tony started wondering where Teddy was.
"You have some explaining to do, DiNozzo!" Gibbs was yelling at him almost as soon when they were sitting in his car and safely on their way back to D.C. Of course he wasn't yelling because he was actually mad at Tony, but because he had been scared and worried. Anger was simply the emotion he was more comfortable with. "I call you and you're not picking up your phone and I knew something wasn't right! Then some kids tell me they saw men taking you..."
Tony furrowed his brows. "How did you find me anyway? No, wait... Let me guess... Your gut?"
Gibbs shrugged and kept his eyes on the road this time, much to Tony's relief. "That watch you're wearing."
Tony glanced toward the expensive thing around his wrist. "The one Abby gave me last year?"
"It's got a tracking device in it."
"It's got... What!?"
"We figured it was needed after you kept getting in trouble in the most bizarre ways and often with no one around. We actually got it during the time you joined the NCIS. Just had to find a reason to give it to you."
"The Harris's case... But Gibbs, this is low. Even from you."
"Sorry." Gibbs shrugged again and not feeling sorry at all.
Tony completely ignored the fact that Gibbs had just apologized. Sort of. Glancing to the driver's seat, he snorted. "So that's why Abby made such a big deal to 'never take it off, unless you're taking a shower '... I hope you realize I won't be wearing this again. I might even tie it around some bird flying to south, just for fun."
"So... What did the Devil want?"
Tony looked thoughtful for a moment. "'The Devil' wants to make a deal with me."
"And? Did you make one?"
Gibbs frowned. "But you're thinking about it. Why?"
"Let's just say that the deal isn't what you think it is. I promise to think very carefully and let you know if I decide to suddenly 'jump on the dark side'."
Gibbs snorted dryly. Daring to finally look at the young man, he saw him staring at one of the tiniest guns he had ever seen. "What's that..?"
Finally back home, Tony sighed in relief as he slumped on his couch. It had taken all of his energy to stop Gibbs from following him to his place and then stop Gibbs from dragging him to the older man's place.
Taking off his shirt, he was about to go and take one much needed shower to wash away the now dried sweat from his morning run, when his hand stopped at the pocket of the pants. In a split second he forgot how filthy he was feeling and instead of the bathroom, he took out the CD and made his way to his laptop.
"It's now either yes or no, Ziva. Either you are real or just the creation of my own imagination..."
The moment he opened the first file with nothing but a brief summary and some photo, he felt something like relief flooding through him when he saw her face. Strangely he even felt just a little bit less crazy.
Laughing, Tony wiped a hand over his face. "Well, look who's finally arrived on the scene..."