Chapter 1: Episode 1: Collision Course
Episode 1: Collision Course
Tony was looking around the very orange bullpen as he was led through it. Agent Gibbs was very insistent that he come and interview with the boss. Tony wasn’t looking to stick around in Baltimore, his Captain was dirty and it was a problem that was going to come to a head. He was trying to stay civilised but if the Captain put him in harm’s way one more time ... he was seriously going to consider letting father deal with it.
Morrow read through the file. “Please explain the adult adoption that is in your file.”
Tony rolled his eyes. “Okay, so before I worked the Baltimore P.D ... I worked in Philly and they had a mob problem.”
Director Morrow was bright enough to fill in the blanks, that wasn’t what was fascinating. It was the timeline of the adoption. “No, Detective DiNozzo, what I am trying to work out is why he adopted you after you put him in prison.”
Gibbs smirked at that because that was something he knew the answer to already. He couldn’t wait to see Tom’s reaction to the full story. He personally didn’t give a shit who the detective’s family was - he didn’t doubt DiNozzo’s ability to do the job. “You haven’t heard the best of it yet.”
Tony sighed. “Do I have to say it?”
Gibbs snorted, enjoying the moment. “Oh come on, DiNozzo, not many can say they can take over a Mob family as soon as they are ready.”
Tony started grumbling. “You know, Director, here is how it goes. So I put the Head of the Family in prison. He doesn’t put a hit out on me like I expect ... he adopts me, says he appreciates my ruthlessness and thinks I have the skills to lead the family. His sons are a disappointment to him and just don’t have the flair for the business like I do. His words, not mine.”
Morrow didn’t quite understand. “But you are in law enforcement.”
Tony nodded as he hadn’t got it at the time either. “Yeah and proud of it. You see, when I am done having my ‘rebellion’ he’ll be ready.” Tony decided to the test waters to see if was the place he could settle. Tony wasn’t naive and he wanted to face the problem head on. “Oh, and when the Don was insistent I was the heir apparent, the only thing I could think to do was become as unattractive as possible. Do you know he doesn’t even care that I’m gay?”
Gibbs did laugh at that for a second - it was the tone in which DiNozzo said it. It was like he was resigned to being part of the Mob almost by conscription. Actually if he really thought about it then the story would make a good movie script.
Tom Morrow shook his head. “You are something else, Agent DiNozzo.”
Tony nodded. “My skills lie in investigative and undercover work. I can be an asset to the agency and there is the added advantage that I will be out of the Mancusco’s sphere of influence. So the FBI might stop harassing me for connections that I did not seek to begin with. Wait ... Agent?”
Morrow nodded. “I am looking to keep the MCRT as the best and I feel that you would be a good fit with your skills. Sound interesting? You would also have to do the course at FLETC.”
Tony was looking for a way out of Baltimore and this sounded like a good fit. “Sure thing.”
Tony never regretted going to FLETC or accepting the MCRT assignment. It certainly made things with his would-be family a lot calmer. Still, there were times that confused the hell out of him. He worked well on the MCRT but Morrow tended to lend him out to the other agencies when they had a sensitive undercover case.
The last time, he’d returned only to find an FBI agent on the team. As far as he was aware, Vivian Blackadder was on secondment. She must have read part of his jacket, no doubt the part naming Salvatore Mancuso as his father, as she treated him like a criminal. What seemed to upset her most was that it was blatantly obvious to the higher-ups who his family was and they did nothing.
“Why an Agent?” She asked him. “Don’t you want to work with your family? ”
Tony rolled his eyes. “You shouldn’t judge a person by their record. I keep telling you Feebies that. If you did look at my complete file then you would see father adopted me after I helped put him in prison. It’s really not my fault that the FBI mucked it up at trial.” Tony added the last part in a sweetly acidic voice.
“If you hate him so much, why do you call him ‘father’?” She responded, her voice laced with disdain. Tony sighed because this needed to be dealt with or their working relationship was going to be crap.
“Sweetie, I worked undercover in the Mafia. I rose to the point where the man called me son. You have no idea what danger that betrayal could put me in. I expected a bullet but did my job without complaint to keep Philly safe. Here is the greatest irony ... that man, despite the monumental piece of work he is ... is a thousand times better than my biological father.”
She snorted, not listening to a word he was saying. “You can’t be an agent and have ties to the mafia, for god’s sake!”
Gibbs walked back into the room, he’d let DiNozzo do what needed to be done but he wanted the agent to know his feelings on the matter. “Why not?”
She whirled around. “You cannot be serious!”
Tony shrugged. “Look, I was very clear with Gibbs and Director Morrow when I came on board. I have nothing to do with the family business, much to father’s annoyance. In his words, my rebellion is wearisome. So they don’t care ... You need to get over yourself, Miss FBI. I have work to do.”
Vivian was about to say something when Gibbs finished the argument before it even began. “DiNozzo is the best agent I have ever worked with and will go far. Don’t make this a competition because you are not in the same league. Watch and learn. You may take away something valuable, or you can end your secondment whenever you wish.”
She hated it, it wasn’t right but she needed NCIS if she was going to avenge her brother. She shook her head. “It won’t be necessary.”
Tony was in the office when the FBI Deputy Director entered the bullpen. The whispers started as soon as he entered Morrow’s office. Finally, Blackadder asked him. “What is going on?”
Tony shrugged none the wiser. “No clue, so I will work on cold cases until I am informed.”
She flushed at the subtle rebuke. He may look like a pretty boy but Vivian had soon learnt that he worked twice as hard as many in the office. “Point taken.”
He was even more infuriating because he wasn’t a hardass that you could hate, he just expected you to do your job. She got on with her own case files and would wait to see what happened.
“DiNozzo, Gibbs, get up here!” Morrow ordered.
Gibbs and DiNozzo did just that and Vivian wanted to be annoyed that they were ignoring her. She would have to wait and see, and she had never been very good at patience. Ever.
Tony wondered just what the hell was going on. Morrow had informed him he was heading to New York at the behest of the FBI by request of their Deputy Director. Morrow, his boss, had told him that he was going and he would be a credit to the agency and take advantage of the situation.
Tony had smiled, nodded, and truth be told, he was relieved to get the hell away from Vivian Blackadder. Gibbs had not been so happy but he left Gibbs and Morrow to thrash out the details and he went to prepare.
“Where the hell are you going?” Viv demanded to know like she had the right.
Tony smiled sweetly. “New York. I’m being loaned out to your old agency.”
Vivian frowned, not believing the FBI would ask a favour of a man entwined with the Mob. “Whatever for?”
Tony shrugged, knowing for some reason the situation bothered her. He didn’t care if it did, to be honest, as she had nothing to do with his life. “No idea but I can’t wait to find out.”
New York hadn’t changed since the last time he was in the Big Apple. The Federal Building was part of Federal Plaza and Tony walked into the lobby. He went straight to the reception area and spoke to the one in charge. “I’m Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo, NCIS. I have a 10:30 meeting with SAC Peter Burke.”
The security guard nodded and phoned the White Collar crime division to confirm and having got the confirmation brought him through and had an intern take him to the required floor. Tony was met as soon as the lift opened by the Agent in question who offered his hand.
“Nice to meet you. Peter Burke. If you will follow me.”
Tony shook the proffered hand. “Pleased to meet you. Anthony DiNozzo.”
Tony was shown into a standard conference room and was introduced to the team of White Collar. He listened and observed all of them and if this was where the team had their meetings then there was something was very wrong. He’d taken a place - so someone wasn’t there.
Tony asked the most pertinent question. “So why have I been asked here?”
Burke laid it all out for him. There was a final member to the white collar team and it was a doozy. A world renowned art thief was a smart addition to the group. Tony knew he’d be able to offer a perspective that those working for the FBI would not be able to see. Plus, a conman could be one of the best undercover operatives. The trouble for Caffrey was two of his worst nemesis had stumbled into his operation - meaning it had gone south.
“Matthew Keller has walked into the operation and is making life very difficult for Neal, especially as he has come in working for Vincent Adler. Adler did a spell in jail thanks to his Ponzi scheme being blown wide open by one of Neal’s identities. He took it personally as Adler had taken a liking to Neal and mentored him in the ways of high-finance crime.”
Tony listened to all the pieces of information and slotted them into the puzzle. They needed to extract Caffery, that much was obvious, but it was how to do it safely that was being debated. “So your man is alive?”
Diana Berrigan, Burke’s second, explained. “Oh, he’s alive and he’s transmitting. It’s clear that Keller and Adler are toying with him. They’re certainly stringing this out.”
Tony could sympathise because he had been stuck in a few situations similar. He knew why he was here, it wouldn’t be the first time he’d been asked by an external agency to engineer a hasty extraction in a high-risk situation. In fact, the similarity in the mentor/mentoree relationship between Neal and Adler to his with his adoptive father was what started an idea in his head. “Is he good enough to adapt to a situation and roll with it?”
Burke nodded and answered honestly. “Neal would have never been caught in the first place if his girlfriend at the time hadn’t messed with his head.”
Tony could hear the pride and worry in the Agent’s voice. Tony continued to let the idea develop in his head, the FBI probably wouldn’t like it but they would have to go with it. “Is Neal homophobic at all?”
Burke shook his head. “Not one little bit, Diana would have killed him ... He appreciates beauty in all forms. He says it’s the artist in him.”
Tony snorted. “Well, in that case, I need to call an old friend, and the FBI will have to leave him alone as you were stupid enough to let him get out the first time.”
Peter quirked an eyebrow as he was curious but not following the conversation. Tony sucked in a breath and settled his mind, he always needed all of his wits to talk to Don Salvatore Mancuso.
“Hey, put father on the phone.” Tony said in rapid Italian.
The Agents were all watching him but Tony ignored them. The next comment was in English, Tony’s voice had gone low and mean with an aura of menace dripping from each word. “Luca, you will put the father on, or, I am going to come over to Long Island and beat you stupid before dropping your carcass in the river ... if you are lucky.”
The team stared as they believed every word coming out of the Agent’s mouth. Just what was the Director thinking bringing this guy in? A few weren’t even sure that he was a Federal Agent.
Tony smirked when a new voice could be heard. “Hello, father. Yes, I do have a favour to ask of you but I know you will like it. You remember Vincent Adler? Do the Mancuso’s still have a vendetta because of the Ponzi scheme? Well, he is back in New York and he has something of mine that I would like back.”
Peter pressed the button on the phone so it went on speaker.
The infamous Don was curious, “What does he have Antonio?”
Tony sighed, knowing he was opening up a can of potential worms here for himself. “He has my lover, Neal, and I intend to retrieve him.”
“You have a lover? And you didn’t say anything?”
The team could imagine the guy pouting from where they were sitting.
Tony smiled as he wasn’t worried. “Father, you know I am gay and it has never been a problem. You should be pleased as Neal is a high-class world art thief…”
“You mean, Neal Caffrey?”
Tony was sure he could hear the delight in the man’s voice. He wasn’t sure how he felt about that. Right now, he was putting it in the deal with it later category. So he confirmed. “Yes - that Neal Caffrey.”
The Agents were torn between horrified fascination and reaching for the cuffs They were not sure what was going on but they knew one thing - Adler and Keller had bitten off more than they could chew. Peter had an instinct that by the end of all of this Keller and Adler may just volunteer to be arrested so as to avoid Tony’s family.
Tony finished the call and seeing the looks of shock said. “What?”
Burke pinched his nose because this did remind him of a few meetings with Neal. “Did you just arrange for a Mob boss to help you collect Neal?”
Tony smirked. “Well, I had him sent to prison and as punishment ... He adopted me. It is all very confusing and gives my bosses a headache but what can you do? It’s usually an annoyance that I can do without but it does come in useful on occasion.”
Diana laughed at how crazy the situation was, she’d thought it bleak and in walked this agent. “You just called Salvatore Mancuso ‘father’ and he is going to help you get Neal back?”
Tony nodded, grinning. “That is exactly what I am going to do. You see, to deal with a bastard like Adler you need to find a bigger one. Please, tell me if you know someone else that could fit the bill. I am listening.”
Peter shook his head. “No, the director said that you were the best in the business and would find a solution. It is unorthodox but I can see it working. There’s also a part of me that’s intrigued when you and Neal meet.”
Peter knew exactly what would happen. They would be like two stars colliding. Although, he wasn’t sure if it would be a good thing or a bad thing.
Tony had gone to a bar where he knew the higher class of criminals of the world hung out. They would know exactly where Vincent Adler would be hiding and even more agreeable in assisting him after he’d dropped his more mob known name. Whether he liked it or not, he was Antonio Mancuso if he looked at his official records.
Tony picked up his phone to call Burke. “I have a location and I’ve organised a meeting.”
Burke chuckled. “That was quick.”
Tony snorted. “Well, you said the man is playing with Neal and I want to make sure he doesn’t have a chance to get bored .”
“Agreed.” Burke took a moment before asking his next question. “What do you need?”
Tony smiled. “Nothing but you know I will not be able to wear a wire if he is even half the criminal he wants to be.”
Tony waltzed into the apartment where Neal was being forced to stay. Vincent Adler was standing there smarmily and he didn’t like the way Adler was staring at Neal - like he was a possession. Tony was beginning to understand just what type of relationship Adler had hoped to develop with Neal. It was clear that Caffrey had underestimated his charm in that respect.
Adler was all smiles with Tony. “I’m charmed to meet you.”
Tony put on his polite smile. “Charmed.”
So they had got the polite falsehoods out of the way - now was when they did serious business. He had two of the Mancuso enforcers with him. He had to, as father had insisted. Tony wasn’t in the habit of cutting his nose off to spite his face so he wasn ’t going to turn away well-trained back-up.
Tony sat down on the chair with the natural born arrogance you would expect of a Mafia prince because despite never talking about it, he could easily be one. He knew the moves, he had the charm and persuasive ability to get people to do what he wanted. The only difference was up until now - he’d always used his abilities for good. This case was evidence in point that Mancuso hadn’t given up the hope that he would be the next Head of the Family. Tony would fight tooth and nail to stop him going all Michael Corleone but he wasn’t naive, even the best of intentions could go astray. He’d learnt a thing or two from the Don when he’d been undercover. For one, you don’t offer information, or anything at all, if you want to make your opponent uncomfortable. It makes them talk far faster.
“So what can I do for the Mancuso family today?” Adler asked, sitting back and steepling his fingers. Honestly, this guy was a walking, talking cliche. He was one white cat away from being a Bond Villain.
Neal was sitting on a chair right next to Adler. It was to make anyone think that Neal was a treasured pet. Well, that was about to change. What Tony needed to do was make Neal realise he was on the Feeb’s side.
“Well, I was just telling little Petey and crackin’ Clint here, how I wanted my Neal back.” Tony said it with a smile but it could create an iceberg for all the warmth in it. Tony was hoping that Adler was going to ask about the nicknames - alas Tony was disappointed.
Neal had to use all of his skills not to freeze but he took the cue he was given. This guy was sent by Peter and if to get out of the room he had to be this guy’s lover, well, it was hardly going to be a hardship. The man was suave, confident, clearly intelligent, and understood good suits. Plus he was extremely hot. Neal itched to paint him if he was being honest with himself. It was a good sign that he was something like art and not just how he was going to survive.
Neal smiled and he spoke, his voice a little hoarse . “It’s so good to see you, baby.”
Tony smirked and he looked at Adler. “I got worried when my fiance didn’t come home and then I find out he is being forced to stay here. You know, baby, you still haven’t painted me for my birthday like you promised .”
Adler could see the chemistry between the pair and his plans were going to go south quickly. He’d borrowed Neal in his quest to capture the location of the Nazi submarine. There was no way he had enough power right now to go up against the Mancuso family. He’d sunk his money into finding the treasure. Adler had no idea that Antoni had come back to the fold and it was well known in criminal circles that he was the most ruthless of all the sons. He had to be as he was adopted and heir apparent. There were rumours that he was the reason Salvatore Mancuso had spent time in prison so when he’d been released, everyone had watched to see what the old man would do. At the time, all were shocked when the old man made Antoni the heir apparent.
Adler had to figure out where he stood with the Mancuso family as he hadn’t been able to square things away before he’d spent time inside.
“Your father is not too happy with me,
Tony smiled but it was all teeth, it was the smile he used to scare suspects . “You know, it’s not my father you have to worry about.” Turning to one of his shadows he asked. “What did I tell you yesterday when I asked you to put father on the phone?”
His guard repeated dutifully. “You would beat me stupid before dropping my carcass in the river ... if I was lucky.”
Tony snorted. “Well, I didn’t add concrete shoes
the Don’s favoured method ...
to shoot your knees out
at the socket
and then drop you in the river -
much cheaper than concrete boots
Neal was watching the verbal foreplay going back and forth. He had never seen Adler scared of anyone but this new player scared him. It wasn’t surprising considering it was Antoni Mancuso sitting in front of him. Neal was a bit confused as to why Peter would send a Mafia prince in after him but beggars couldn’t be choosers. Neal felt brave enough to slide over to Antoni and risk hugging him. It was nuts but he started to feel safe once he did.
Neal was ready to sell the act, he leaned in close. “I just want to get out of here and celebrate your birthday like we promised.” It was said in a tone that suggested everything that was dirty and oh so right in the world.
Adler’s eyes glazed a little at even the hint of what the couple suggested. They were a good looking couple and Adler was bisexual with fantasies. Tony saw the look Adler gave Neal and he really wanted to punch the guy on the principle of the matter. He had to remind himself that as soon as they were free and clear the FBI would swoop in on the bastard.
Salvatore was not too happy until Tony had explained that Adler would be placed in a prison with several of his more dangerous enemies. At that, the end of their conversation the Don had been laughing. “Now, Antoni, that is why you are too good at this.”
Adler actually had the cheek to say to Tony’s face.
“Neal and I had some unfinished business to discuss.”
Tony stood up, gently tugging on Neal’s hand to get him to stand at the same time. “Consider all unfinished business null and void and be grateful that I persuaded Don Mancuso that I should retrieve my lover.”
not wanting this reunion to be over. He had to try and find a weak spot to exploit.
“I am not sure he is
, you know.
for lovers, your reunion has been
Tony upgraded punching to any excuse to shoot the bastard. Still, he could play the game and he would use the shock to extricate him and Neal quickly. He pulled Neal toward him so their hips were flush together a nd with a smirk and a challenging glint planted his lips on Neal’s. It was necessary but Neal was used to taking advantage of even the smallest opening and gave it his all. He left little biting kisses against Antoni’s lips and moaned when his mouth was invaded by a questing tongue. Neal was more turned on than he had ever been in his life and all from just a kiss .
Tony reluctantly broke the kiss and turned back to Adler and Keller. “That will have to be enough for your voyeuristic tendencies and now we will be leaving and anyone who tries to stop us will be put down my by father’s guards. I am done playing games.”
Neal was pulled through the door and down the elevator and waited for the penny to drop. The thing was, no one stopped them, and Keller, despite glaring at them, didn’t follow. He was safe and free and noted there were two cars waiting for them on street level. The first held an infamous figure - Salvatore Mancuso, who stepped out of his car. “Your Neal is safe.”
Tony nodded and despite himself, he greeted his father warmly stepping in for the traditional hug. “He is, thanks to you, and I have Adler on tenterhooks and that is before the police raid.”
Salvatore smiled. “Well, I have business to attend to and you will come to family dinner with Neal next Sunday ... I don’t think that is too much to ask for.”
Tony hated the idea as he always tried to keep the family at a distance as it was kind of everything he wanted when it came to family. The law breaking was the sticking point and it hadn’t gone unnoticed that since he came out of prison, Salvatore seemed to be making an effort to civilise the family. Tony couldn’t say no because, without his help and name, the operation to retrieve Neal would have been far riskier and dangerous.
“We’ll arrange something.” Tony agreed.
Neal watched the Don leave and then Tony led him to another car where, much to his surprise, Peter and Diana were there. His grin was back. “Oh boy, am I glad to see you.”
Peter hugged him and Diana just smirked at him. “So how did you find meeting Agent DiNozzo?”
Neal blinked in shock trying to reconcile what he’d just witnessed with the information he’d learnt. “You’re not FBI because they would have a fit at your familial connections.”
Tony snickered because Neal wasn’t wrong . “Actually, they keep trying to recruit me. I have yet to say yes and they seem willing to overlook them. It helps that I was the one to send Pops to jail and it wasn’t my fault that the incompetent prosecutor didn’t put him away for life.”
Neal snorted at that summary. He found himself wanting to learn all about the agent and not for nefarious reasons . “Well, thank you for my life and it is a pleasure to meet you, Agent DiNozzo.”
Tony smirked. “We’ve kissed. I think you can call me Tony and after the debrief we really should grab a coffee or two.”
Neal was reeling with how quickly things were moving but the Agent in front of him fascinated him and he wanted to strip back every layer both physically and in terms of character and learn everything about this intriguing man.
Neal grinned and figured you didn’t get anything in life without asking. “So how about wine back at mine tonight?”
Tony smirked. “Sure why not? You can show me your art.”
Diana sighed. “Now there are two of them.”
Peter looked at the couple and yes, he was already thinking of them as one. “Maybe, but I think they could be good for each other.”
Diana shrugged. “Well, their lives certainly collided together with a bang. Hopefully, it will settle.”
Peter shook his head. “It won’t but look at them ... Do you think they will care?”
Chapter 2: Dinner with the Mob
Tony was back in DC and already he was on the phone to Neal. Man, he had it bad. He hadn’t felt like this about anyone, not even Wendy and he’d almost married her. This was crazy and it was complicated.
Neal was a criminal informant on an electronic tag working out the last of his sentence with the FBI. Oh, and he himself was family to the Mob. He’d resisted it for so long, knowing how much he wanted that close family. They had adored him when he was undercover and even sending the Don to jail hadn’t changed that. This wouldn’t make Neal’s life any easier and Tony was always being harassed by the FBI as well.
“So you made it back to dull Washington?” Neal asked, teasing him in a way few ever did.
Tony smiled. “Yeah, and much to your delight ... it is raining.”
Neal huffed. “I am not delighting in your rain even if I am enjoying the evening sun on my rooftop.”
Tony could just picture it. “Don’t tease a guy. I want a picture for proof.”
The shot was sent through almost immediately. Tony could admit that was a great candid shot of Neal on one of the sun lounges with the skyline in the background and he made a quick decision - he was done hiding. He put it as his screen background. Neal’s face had a way of making him smile and remember the good in the world. He would have to remember to thank Morrow for volunteering him for the operation.
Neal sent a request to change the call to video and once Tony accepted, Neal’s face came up on the screen looking at him expectantly. Tony smirked. “It’s now my screen background.”
Neal smiled but he was worrying a little now they’d had to separate. The tag on his ankle was feeling more like a chain right now. “Won’t having a felon for a partner be bad for you?”
Tony shook his head. “Come on, my boss knows that Salvatore Mancuso is my adoptive father, and is okay with it.”
“Are we still having dinner on Sunday?”
Tony nodded. “Yes we are, I’ll fly back on Saturday as my team’ll be off call rotation then.”
Neal grinned despite himself. “I’m counting down the days.”
Tony wanted Neal to know that he was in this for real. “Me too.”
Viv, much to Tony’s annoyance, was still there. “You’re back.”
Tony smiled, knowing that by not being confrontational it would upset her more. “That’s right. I helped them take down Adler and rescue one of yours in the process. I know ... I’m that good.”
She started to viciously tap keys on her computer so Tony was guessing she wasn’t happy. Too bad. He looked over as Gibbs stood and grabbed his gun from the drawer. “Hey, boss. Where are we going?”
“Falls Church, a female JAG lawyer has been found murdered.”
Tony sighed, knowing this was going to be awkward and full of friction; there was a natural rivalry between the two groups. Add into the fact, the suspect would likely be someone she worked with and this was a powder keg waiting to blow.
And here was him thinking dinner with Pops was going to be his most difficult task this week.
Vivian noticed the change in his phone background. “Why have you got a man as your background?”
Tony smirked, all casual and smug. “You don’t think he’s pretty?”
She snorted. “You are not the type. Are you?”
Tony’s grin grew, knowing just what to say to irritate her further. “Vivian, if you can’t figure that out then you’re on the wrong team.”
She looked at Gibbs, hoping to get an ally. He just rolled his eyes. “Vivian, you don’t need to know about your team’s private lives.”
Tony smiled. “Thanks, boss, and here’s what we know so far. VICAP has her named as Lt Loren Singer. She was a JAG lawyer assigned to the Headquarters in Falls Church. Here is the kicker though, and you are not going to like this, she was starting maternity leave.”
Gibbs growled. “Do we know who the father is?”
Tony shook his head. “It was all very hush hush but you can bet your ass I am going to find out.”
Vivian frowned. “You think the father of the baby did it?”
Tony shook his head in disbelief at the naive question. “It certainly wouldn’t be the first time.”
“Why - is it your Mob daddy’s MO?” She asked snidely.
Gibbs looked at him to see if he wanted back up but Tony shook his head. “No, Viv. You see father lives by rules and they are the old school ones. You might not get it but the old school Dons survive because they have respect alongside the fear. Whacking women, pregnant women or children has never been Mancuso’s way. Rule 9 was - Always deal with a problem head on.”
She was shocked. “You actually like him.”
Tony chuckled. “If you ever meet the guy then you can form an opinion. The fact is, he is a charming guy and sadly a thousand times better than my biological father.”
Joy of joys, his last comment actually shut the whining up.
This case was messy and so suddenly having a suspect in Rabb was just not sitting right with him. It must have shown on his face. “This is just too perfect boss, and for god sake, Rabb is a SEAL so I’d like to think he would be smarter than this.”
Vivian rolled her eyes. “It isn’t always the case, Tony. Sometimes murder is just murder.”
Tony snorted. “Except where it is not. You know what, try thinking outside the FBI box for once in your life. This is just too perfect; I used to be a cop and this doesn't sit right with me. It’s like someone wanted to hand me a gift wrapped case or they are framing a suspect.”
Gibbs hadn’t liked the idea of it being Rabb but the man’s interrogation hadn’t left him anywhere to go. It was more than likely the man was covering for his half-brother. It didn’t matter as right now, any reasonable lawyer could make a case against the man. “So who would want Rabb in jail and Singer dead?”
Tony put a file in front of him. “I should imagine he would have a few reasons.”
The files was that of Commander Thomas Lindsey. He was a former interim JAG and when looking at his file he would have plenty of beef with Rabb, the new JAG, Chegwidden and happened to have known dalliances with the victim herself. “I see where you’re going with this. Run it down to the ground, DiNozzo.”
Vivian looked to Gibbs. “How does he come up things like that?”
Gibbs smirked. “You see his background as suspicious. You treat him like a criminal, I think of him as an untapped resource who turned his back on the one thing that he wanted - a family. In order to seek justice for those who can’t seek it themselves. These conversations and attempts to discredit - end now.”
Tony had no idea of the conversation. He was busy baiting a trap, he found the lawyers and the doctors who tried to murder people were ironically always the easier ones to catch. Why? They always tried to overthink the situation, assuming they were the smartest person in the room.
He needed to prove that either a) Lindsey killed Singer directly or b) how Lindsey got the evidence that he used to frame Rabb.
Tony found himself phoning Neal, he needed advice so why not talk to an expert in misdirection and it gave him the perfect excuse to talk to his boyfriend.
“Hey, is this a good time?” Tony asked, knowing that Neal was probably at the FBI office. “Tell Burke I need a serious consult. He can listen in if he wants.”
Neal chuckled because he’d relayed that to Peter who shook his head and moved away quickly. “What can I do to help?”
Tony sighed, his frustration evident. “I have a case and it’s not sitting right in my gut. It’s just too neat and tidy. I have a suspect who I am ninety-nine percent certain is a being framed. So tell me this…. Just how does a Naval Commander lose their cover ... it is a little important.”
Neal hummed. “Cover. That’s the hat, right?”
Tony snorted because he could guess that Neal knew it but didn’t want to say. “Yeah, babe, it is the hat.”
“Is the framer naval, as well?” Neal asked as he tried to wrap his head around the potential problems.
Tony chuckled. “Now why is it that you can see that immediately and yet Blackadder can’t believe it.”
Neal smirked, pitching his voice low. “Well, I have a devious mind and the FBI don’t teach flexibility.”
“Ain’t that the truth.” Tony replied. It was one of his main issues with Blackadder, they worked on fast moving and complex cases that needed a certain flexibility to work on and she seemed to be lacking that trait. Tony didn’t need to be a prophet to know that she wasn’t going to last on the team. It was a case of when Gibbs booted her back to the FBI rather than if .
Neal sat up. “Have they have eaten together recently? I wouldn’t need to be too clever about it so if I go to dinner with him and ... I have decent sleight of hand skills it would be easy.”
Tony liked where this was going and flicked through his notebook looking for Lindsey’s information. “Let me check what he was trained for.” And now Tony was grinning like a lunatic. He had the thread. “Yeah, he did. I checked Rabb’s schedule as well, two days before the murder he had dinner with my potential framer.”
Neal was pleased to help his boyfriend. “I think you have the answer then, don’t you.”
Tony was beyond relieved. “Yep, and I will be flying into New York just after midday. Meet you are your apartment?”
Neal loved the way he didn’t even mention the tag or make it sound like an imposition. “Looking forward to seeing your face. Oh, there will be a key in the post so let yourself in.”
“Until Saturday.” Tony signed off.
Saturday soon arrived and Neal was a little nervous and not for the reason you might expect. After all, sitting down for a nice dinner with the Mob was not how a criminal informant kept a low profile with the FBI. Neal found though, that for Tony he was willing to risk it. Speaking of the boyfriend, the man walked into his apartment. Neal could admit that some of his nerves settled upon seeing him even as his heart picked up speed. Tony raced over to greet him in the kitchen area, saying, “Hey, gorgeous. Man - am I glad to see you.”
Neal leant into the lingering kiss. “And you. How long ‘til Pops gets here?”
Tony shrugged because Salvatore Mancuso was a law unto himself. Literally. It was one of his rules, only there weren’t fifty or so of them like Gibbs. The Don lived by what he called his mob’s ten commandments. “He lives outside the law. His words, not mine.”
When Tony had been around the family the first time and he’d heard them, he itched to write them down.
Neal chuckled because he could appreciate the sentiment only it hadn’t worked so well for him. He had the ankle tag and criminal record to prove it. He felt it important to warn Tony. “You do know Peter is going to drop by, he nearly had a heart attack when I told him about dinner tonight.”
Tony smirked. “Agent Burke isn’t pleased that you’re already meeting your boyfriend's family?”
Neal snorted. “I think it’s more the fact the boyfriend’s adoptive family is Mob affiliated and I already have a loose definition of the law.”
Tony shook his head because he was going to put a stop to that. “Neal, you stole things for the thrill, the challenge. You never took a job that required violence. I know you’re not a bad guy so don’t try to put yourself down.”
Neal had a small smile, he was not used to anyone being able to see through his masks so easily. “You are too good at that reading people business.”
Tony reeled him over to the couch, wanting Neal to just rest for a few minutes. He could see how much work Neal had put into the dinner. He knew Neal was serious about them and this dinner was Neal trying to show it. He put his hands into Neal’s wanting his boyfriend’s full attention. “ Pops is a straight up guy and he will love you. He will see you as a way to try and sway me to the dark side.”
Neal chuckled, seeing what Tony was doing and leaned forward to kiss him again. Neal didn’t think he’d get tired of kissing Tony anytime soon. Ever his subconscious whispered. He rested his head against Tony’s and confessed. ”Peter says you’re a good influence on me.”
Tony nibbled on his lip. “Well, one of them is right. So, what can I do to help with that?”
Neal tugged him closer so they were flush against each other, only their clothes separating them. “Nothing at all, let me take care of you.”
Tony huffed. “But I want to help you.”
Neal shook his head, reluctantly standing up before they passed a point of sexual no return. He would love to continue but he had no intention of answering the door to the Don with a raging hard-on. He was firm on this. “No, you will have enough to do running leagues around your Pops. Just relax and when he disappears we can have some real fun.”
Tony groaned, just imagining it. His mind flashing back to just seconds ago. “Damn, don’t tease me.”
Neal handed him a glass of wine. “I would never tease you, baby. Here, relax a little. I know how tough your week has been.”
Tony sipped his wine and marveled on his lover’s taste. It was crazy how well they meshed. “So, how has your work been? You know, apart from helping me nail a psycho lawyer.”
Neal scoffed. “Well, there was this terrible forger and worst of all he pretended to be me. He was not flattering at all.”
Tony chuckled, needing that after his heavy case. It had sucked and the betrayal of the uniform had hit Gibbs hard. “Are there pictures?” He asked with a grin on his face.
Neal nodded but looked reluctant to share so Tony knew they must be good. Tony pleaded, “Please show me.”
“Uh - uh.” Neal was trying to forget the guy existed.
The knock at the door stopped any more teasing. “Oh look, the Don is here. Early. ”
Tony went to the door not thinking about how domestic it made them. So the man knew he was serious about Neal, appearing early was a good way to see how they reacted when no one was expected. Well, Tony was more than equal to this game. He went to the door of the apartment and opened it with a grin. “Hey, Pops.”
Tony couldn’t call him
to his face the way the others did. Each time he did, some of his colleagues looked at him like he’d just kicked a puppy. Salvatore himself had been the one to suggest
even if there had been a grimace on his face. “Antonio. You remember my Alona?”
Tony embraced her the Italian way. “Of course, looking as elegant and classy as ever.”
Alona Macuscuo held his cheek in her hand and looked through him. Tony was impressed and half tempted to borrow her for interrogations.
She finished her perusal and declared.
“You look good and this boyfriend of yours is a keeper.”
Tony grinned, knowing that he had one of the best allies possible in making sure he kept his boyfriend . “I know ... so let’s try to keep Pops from running him off.”
“Are you ready to stop running from us, young man?” She asked him seriously.
Tony sighed because there was no easy answer to that question. He tried though to put it into words. “If it was up to me I would be round for tea every weekend. You and Pops don’t need the heat of a Federal son.”
She snorted and it was at odds with the classy image. “Antonio, I am old enough to know my own mind. Let me worry about what is good or bad for me. I decide you are good for me and that is the
Tony smirked and hugged her again. He hadn’t been lying to Vivian, the Mancuso family were beyond charming and everything he’d want in life. The only reason he’d resisted was the two sides of him would always be at war and no one liked being pulled in two. He knew when meeting Neal that he was going to conflagrate the issue but he couldn’t find it in him to care right now. Tony would be called to make a choice and was Italian enough to know that he would have to leave the consequences to the hands of fate.
Salvatore took in the place as he was shown to the nice sofa in the middle of the loft place. “This is a nice place you have, Mr. Caffrey.”
Neal watched as Salvatore saw his wife seated first before joining her. He poured them each a glass of wine and offered a crooked grin. “Neal, please. And the compliments should go to my great landlady, June, who is fond of rogues instead of treating me like a pariah.”
Salvatore raised his glass as he could understand the sentiment. Neal could see the understanding in the old man’s eyes. Neal had told him subtly that there would be no judgement from him this evening. And Neal truly believed that a man was the sum of his choices - good and bad. Salvatore returned it with a salutation of his own. “To the rogues of society - we always get a bad rap in the press.”
Neal clinked his glass, eyes twinkling. “To the rogues.”
Tony groaned into Neal’s shoulder as he’d moved to stand close, wanting to show the Mancuso’s that he was serious about Neal. Whether it had started out as a plot or not, he was more than keen on Neal and wanted them to understand that. He spoke but it was muffled by Neal’s shoulder. “You can’t say shit like that.”
Neal asked innocently, peeking at the Mancuso’s who were amused by the little show. “Why not?” Neal asked.
“You said it yourself, Peter is coming to check on us.” Tony reminded him. “You’ll make the FBI nervous saying things like that.”
Neal chuckled, knowing that Tony’s concern was for him. “Yes and when the nice FBI agent comes inside we will all be on our best behaviour.”
Alona and Salvatore nodded their heads, amused to see how the couple were already so easy with each other. “Yes, of course.”
Alona had a conspiratorial grin. “He will have no concern about young Neal, in fact, your Pops and I may have a gift for your Agent Burke.”
Tony cocked his head to the side as this was something he was curious about. “What is it?”
She tapped her finger on her nose. “Soon, Antonio. We don’t talk business before good food - you know this. That rule has not changed in my house.”
Tony chuckled as it was true. He still remembered the way some of the toughest enforcers would flinch from her wooden spoon for forgetting that rule. Still, the conversation was going so well and even as Neal drifted back to the kitchen area he asked. “So how you been Pops ? Tell me what you can that won’t earn you a glare.”
Salvatore took the opening to talk about general things such as how his friends and family were. The conversation was all perfectly legal and above board and Tony could appreciate the effort and spoke in return about his own week.
Neal grinned. “Tony babe, come help me plate up.”
Tony smirked. “Coming, dear.”
The two couples sat and ate. Neal had not tried to cook an Italian meal as there were some things that were just doomed to fail. Instead, he’d chosen a lovely piece of Mexican cuisine he’d picked up the one time he’d needed to lay low beyond the border. The base was steak but cooked with a spicy potato recipe.
Alona was the first to say it. “This is delicious.”
Neal nodded his head to accept the compliment. “Thank you kindly. I picked it up when laying low in Mexico.”
Salvatore chuckled as he got the impression that there were more than a few stories to be enjoyed. Still, he wouldn't antagonise Antonio, this was the closest they’d got to sitting down and talking properly for years. The boy was too skittish even after he’d convinced him that there would be no bullet in the future. “So finish what you were saying about your case.”
“Pops, you would have been so disappointed. He was just so bad at trying to frame someone.” Tony finished, showing just how relaxed he is.
Neal snorted at his disgust. “Well, he was a JAG lawyer and a Navy officer - he wouldn’t have much practice at deception.”
Tony smirked. “And it didn’t work out too well for him. He shouldn’t have tried to offer me the case wrapped up in a bow. It is like mamma says. ‘If it sounds too good to be true; it usually is’.”
Salvatore chuckled because his wife was anything but meek. She wouldn’t let anything go on inside her house that she didn’t approve of. It was why, in the early days when Salvatore was establishing his dominance and ascending to the head of the family, he had always conducted certain activities away from the house. “Well, my Alona is wise in such things.”
Neal smiled. He’d seen good marriages and bad ones and right now he was witnessing a true one, one that if he’d been running cons, he wouldn't have bothered trying to interrupt. There was no leverage to be had there for one. “I often find that the smartest men don’t make war in their own bed.”
Salvatore outright laughed at that. “Oh yes, you will see, Mr. Caffrey, Alona was the worst kind of thief. She stole my heart and she has no intention of returning it.”
She grinned unrepentant. “I know the value of what I hold. I gave you fair exchange though, husband of mine.”
Tony and Neal shared a look, they didn’t say the words but they made a similar acknowledgement with their eyes. They wanted what the Salvatores had - that was a worthy goal to aim for.
The evening passed with little incident and a lot of laughter and as predicted as they drank coffee to finish off their meal there was a knock at the door. Tony stood up. “I’ll get it.”
Peter Burke was indeed standing at the door. “Fancy seeing you here, Agent Burke.”
Peter rolled his eyes. “Don’t give me that, DiNozzo. My bosses would have my ass if I didn’t check up on him.”
Tony snorted. “Look, it’s because I like you and what you’ve done to Neal that I’m willing to play nice. If not, I would be making waves about bias on sexuality.”
“That’s crap.” Burke retorted.
Tony smirked, showing his teeth just a little. You see he did respect Peter Burke and what he’d done but he could recognise a boss willing to yank someone’s chain. He also knew that Peter had bosses who would think nothing of exploiting what they see as a no risk asset. “Is it? Don’t think I can’t make waves ... and before you say anything, I don’t need father to do it for me.”
Alona, the sneaky women was up to something and Tony was guessing the gift was being sprung. “Tony, bring Neal’s, Agent Burke. I was just telling Neal something fascinating.”
Peter looked at him as if he had an answer. Tony snorted. “Please, you never know what Ma...Mrs. Mancuso wants until she’s ready.” Tony had almost forgotten that to the outside world he was playing it as coolly professional.
Tony had a smirk now because had no doubt it would be a doozy.
Neal was excited by the challenge of it. “Peter, we have a mystery ... it seems an acquaintance of Mr. Mancuso lost something that should probably be returned to the US Treasury.”
“Oh?” Peter would bite. “What is that?”
“Printing press, capable of making passable hundreds.” Neal finished, he only loved a good forgery.
Peter’s eyebrows nearly hit the ceiling. That wasn’t just a small loss and even if it was one of Mancuso’s enemies. Peter had to investigate. After all, he was the lead for White Collar crimes. “Is that so? Seems like something we should check out ... Should I assume that Mr. Mancuso's associate is also looking for their wayward employee?”
Salvatore spoke up. “I can’t comment on the business practices of my colleagues, Agent Burke, but let’s assume they are.”
Peter grimaced. “Yeah, and I’m going to guess that it will be a nasty severance package. Thank you for passing on the anonymous tip. I’m sorry for disturbing your evening.”
“Nice to meet you, Agent Burke.” Alona said, and you had to be impressed as you would believe she meant it.
Tony waited until they were on their own and he started to pout. “And I thought you said that I was the only federal agent you liked?”
She sniffed. “I was being polite to your boyfriend’s boss.”
Tony leaned over kissing her cheek, he was done fighting his heart. “Thanks, Mamma.”
She patted his cheek. “You’re my son. The son of my heart. Now, I know you are in DC but with your boyfriend living here I want to see you more.”
Tony looked to Salvatore seeing if he agreed with his wife. The old man snorted. “You are too much like me, to the point sometimes I wonder if Senior stole you.”
Tony chuckled. “I am trying. I’m still a federal agent.”
Mancuso’s smirked. “Since when have I had business with the Navy?”
Tony answered. “Never.”
Salvatore nodded. “Pick up a phone and for now, we’ll agree not to put the other in an awkward position. I have missed you, son .”
Tony hadn’t expected this and he felt wrung out, diving into the hug. “And I you, pops .”
Salvatore hugged him back and it was time for him and Alona to say goodbye. “We’ll see ourselves out, try and call us when you get back to DC.”
Tony promised. “I will.”
Tony saw the couple out the door whilst Neal cleared away the table. Tony finished his task first and collapsed back on the couch trying to assimilate what had just happened. He felt lighter than he had in a while and yet things had just got a lot more complicated.
Neal dumped the dishes in the sink and went straight back to the couch. He wanted to see how his boyfriend was doing.
“You okay?” He asked softly, tugging Tony’s hand from his knee and placing it in his lap.
“I stopped fighting what I wanted.” Tony confessed.
Neak smiled. “I noticed but babe, everyone deserves to have a family that adores them.”
Tony chuckled weakly. “It never mattered before and it was the worst part of being undercover...I liked them, really liked them, but I had to do my job.”
Neal spoke softly. “They’ve clearly forgiven it. They called you
Tony huffed. “Yeah, and then they gave you a case to help you with Burke.”
Neal chuckled. “Oh, I have no doubt that this benefits Salvatore somehow.”
Tony smirked because he knew what it was. This is “One of the Mob family’s has kept its power obviously through counterfeit money. Now Pops has found out one of the employees has light fingers. This to him is a perfect opportunity that he can show me he is serious about us. He can help the FBI so they leave him alone for awhile ... and he’ll be able to make a move on the business interests of whichever family was stupid enough to lose the copper plate.”
Neal pulled him into a hug. In that one statement, Neal understood why Salvatore wanted Tony to be the next head of the family. He didn’t say that though, knowing how tense Tony was about the whole situation. This might not be the easy course but he would support Tony in whatever he chose. “Well, whatever you choose, you know I’ll be here to support you. Granted, in the first year or so, it would be great if it’s within a two mile radius.”
Tony smiled. “The tag is not an issue for me, especially if my mob family is not an issue for you.”
Neal kissed him. “Alona is one hell of a woman and Salvatore has a great line in suits.”
Tony chuckled. “You would notice that.” He paused for a second and then whispered. “Thank you.”
Neal frowned. “For what?”
Tony smiled. “For accepting me, Fedness, Mob family, and all.”
Neal put his arms around Tony’s shoulders. “You haven’t blinked at me being a felon, or the enemies that I’ve made. You accepted all of me and still want me.”
Tony was feeling brave and a little bit reckless, this whole evening making him so. If Neal was going to make a break for it, then tonight would have shown it. “I think I may love you ... Does that scare you?”
Neal shook his head. “Nope, it excites me because I think may love you too.”
Time would be the test but the future was looking bright
Chapter 3: Split between two cities
Tony was surprised by the number on his phone. It was the Consigliere for the Mancuso family and one he still knew by heart. He was sure three different people in the FBI had a heart attack as they were no doubt listening to his pop’s phone calls. Tony was too curious for his own good and answered the phone.
“Vincent. How can I help?” Tony asked, praying that the man didn’t ask him to do anything illegal. He had secured the agreement of Alona and Salvatore but that didn’t mean the others in the family would understand. He’d hoped it wouldn’t cause friction but he always knew it was a possibility.
“It’s your father and mother’s fortieth anniversary and since you are on speaking terms I thought you should be the one to organise the party.” The lawyer explained.
Tony was suspicious. “Why?”
Vincent was too wily to reveal all his reasons. “It seems your boy, Neal, has brought you back into the fold but he has certain restrictions on his movements ... so who better to make sure he can attend. Apparently, Alona adores him and wants him there.”
Tony pinched his nose. There was too much logic there for him to refute even if he wanted to. Plus, he knew how much Neal liked socialising. “Fine. I’ll do it but leave Neal alone, he has enough trouble with the FBI as it is.”
Vincent chuckled. “He was a world class art thief. He is trouble all on his own and he certainly doesn’t need our influence.”
Tony groaned. “You are not convincing me this is a good idea.”
“I don’t need to ... You will do this for Alona and you know it.” Vincent argued straight back.
The damn bastard was right. “Fine. I’ll sort it. Now excuse me, I’m going to be late for work.”
He was glad that Blackadder had been sent back to the FBI but on the downside, it meant that their cases were being dealt with by only two people.
He saw the text flashing on his phone. It was a message from Morrow to get Gibbs and get to the office ASAP. Tony sighed as he ended his current phone call. “I have to go, Vincent. I’ll figure it out.”
Morrow was the one to hand the brief to Tony and say. “Don’t expect to see home for a few days.”
Tony read the brief and he wanted to sigh knowing this was going to be a shit day. He could sense these things. He sent a quick message to Neal.
Hot Case - will be gone for ?? - TD
Be safe, and will let Ma and Pa know. - NC
Tony smiled at the rapid response, knowing it could be his last nice thought for the next few days. He now changed tack, focussing on his job and what needed to be done. First job, phone Gibbs on his day off. Gibbs picked up on the third ring. “What is it, DiNozzo?”
“Boss, we’re heading to Wichita, Kansas. Morrow’s orders”
“Why?” Tony could still hear him sanding his damn boat.
“Well ... It goes like this; Air Force One just landed after the football carrier, a Navy Commander Trapp, just karked it having eaten dinner with POTUS.” Tony was flipping through his notebook to reel off all the relevant facts.
Gibbs growled. “Who’ve we got sniffing around the case?”
Tony smirked. “FBI and Secret Service are already on the scene ... but I had a word with Ducky. It turns out he knows the local ME and all it took to run interference is some air mailed steaks.”
“Is that the going bribe?”
Tony chuckled. “It is in Wichita, boss.”
Tony was telling himself not to lose it. He knew Pops would find it hilarious and would no doubt find him a job. Hell, he would probably convince him to start to take over the Firm.
Gibbs seemed to find the Secret Service agent amusing and all it took, apparently, was some sass. Tony didn’t care what she thought personally but when she was traipsing over the investigation - well, that was when he got mad. Like right now, she was standing guard over the cockpit door, refusing to let the plane get in the air.
He stood up. “You know, this scoring points thing is adorable
but we have a dead football carrier who deserves justice. So, Agent Todd, is it really worth your measuring contest?”
She flushed, radioing the cockpit. She scowled at Tony. “I don’t have to take orders from a man-child.”
Tony shrugged. “I am just an agent doing my job, Agent Todd. What are you supposed to be doing?”
So his comment must have hit home, judging by the glare as she ordered the plan to lift off. “See boss, you gotta use your words.”
“If you say so, DiNozzo, but you did just fine.” Gibbs' eyes shone with humour but as soon as Todd looked at him, he was back to being the hardass.
DiNozzo headed back to the room with Ducky. He had no need to indulge the woman and her reverse chauvinistic crap. If he hadn’t been dating Neal he might have played up the image but as it was, he planned to avoid her as much as possible for this case.
“Are you alright, Anthony?”
Tony smiled at the ME. “Sure thing Duck man, just avoiding the wannabe alpha poisoning.”
He chuckled. “Young Agent Todd has suffered from being in a male dominated world.”
Tony could acknowledge the point. “Oh I get it, Ducky, I do. I could say the same being gay in law enforcement. If you want a chip you will carry it forever.”
Ducky chuckled even as he inspected the murder victim. “You are quite insightful for someone so young.”
Tony shrugged. “I grew up quick and your wits are sometimes the only thing that keeps you alive.”
“Oh truer words, young Anthony. If she was a redhead I would suspect a different intention.”
Tony smirked knowing exactly what the M.E meant. His phone broke their musings. “Hey, oh mistress of the dark. What you got for me?”
Abby’s voice came through loud and clear. “Well, your case just got real hinky but I thought you and the boss man should be the first to know.”
“Lay it on me, Abs.”
“Well, Commander Trapp is not the only ball carrier to croak. The normal ball carrier has just been found dead on a street in Georgetown. Belief is a stroke but my guess is poison, I have Major Mass Spec on the case to find it for me .”
Tony groaned. “This case sucks. It makes no sense. There is no motive for killing a ball carrier and all they did is made the President switch to his back up plane.”
Abby chuckled hearing her friend’s vexed tone. “Oh, it get’s better. The normal ball carrier was last seen in the company of a secret service agent, who he kissed goodbye.”
Tony could hear in her tone there was something that she wasn’t saying. “Abs don’t hold out on me.”
“The agent's name was Caitlin Todd.” Abby finished.
Tony chuckled. “Oh, this just gets better and better.”
“I’ll leave you to it.” Abby signed off. “I just want a caff-pow.”
Tony closed his phone. “Well, this makes life interesting.”
“What is that?” Ducky asked him, wondering if he was supposed to participate in this conversation.
Tony shrugged. “I get to encourage Gibbs to be, well, Gibbs. I’m going to go with poison as COD, Ducky because the standard ball carrier has just been found dead too, another apparent stroke.”
The man frowned. “Yes that would be my guess also, it will be a rare venom likely. Most poisons attack the heart not the brain.”
Tony couldn’t comment. “That’s for you and Ab’s to find the how - Gibbs and I need to find the whom.”
Tony entered the main cabin once more and he saw Todd sprawled over the couch whilst Gibbs was still sitting up quizzing her about protocols and what were the differences between the two planes.
“There is no difference, I mean the rooms are in the same place, there would be no advantages gained.” She growled out.
Tony was guessing this was not the first time the boss had asked this. “Er boss, I need a word, and it needs to be alone.”
Todd did not like that and glared. “Not invited into the boys club?”
Tony smirked. “No such thing, Agent Todd, but this is a matter you don’t have clearance to know. So I am sorry but I don’t care who your boss is.”
She got up and stormed toward the pilot's cabin claiming she wanted an update from her own boss. Tony waited until she was out of listening range.
“DiNozzo, you’re usually the diplomatic one.”
Tony smirked. “Sorry boss, it’s my inner man-child peeking out. And I don’t like people with a chip on their shoulder.”
Gibbs nodded as he got what the issue was. “Come on, out with it. What did you not want to tell me in front of Todd.”
Tony recited the facts as he had himself been told them. “The normal ball carrier has just been found dead from an apparent stroke. Abby has sorted the body and belongings to NCIS. She’s betting poison and so would I.”
Gibbs thought about it. “It could be on the clothes. Do they share a dry cleaner?”
Tony shrugged. “Don’t know. I’ll chase the angle up but ... that’s not why I asked to talk to you alone. The newest victim is a Major Kerry and he appears to have had a girlfriend - Agent Todd.”
Gibbs raised an eyebrow. “No wonder she’s been so frosty.”
Tony didn’t care why she was being a bitch. “Well, you can break it to her.”
“How long until we land?”
Tony looked at his watch. “If we’re on schedule then we have two hours.”
Gibbs walked back up the plane. “Be ready, I have a little undercover operation for you.”
Tony frowned, wondering what was going on his boss’ mind even though he knew he wouldn’t get to know until Gibbs was ready. “Well, I’ll chase down any connections. There has to be a reason for this, boss.”
“Like what, DiNozzo?”
Tony thought about it and there was only one reason for killing the ball carrier. The nukes - but even then it was futile as they didn’t have the codes. All you achieved by killing the ball carrier was inconveniencing the Secret Service by making them change planes.
“To what end.” Gibbs continued to press him.
Tony thought through it and now he had a puzzle. “I don’t know, boss. Think you can get the schematics? I doubt if I ask Todd she’ll let me see them.”
Gibbs walked back towards the top of the cabin.
Twenty minutes later and Tony saw Gibbs coming toward him with some cardboard cylinders in his hand. Tony being Tony asked. “Chat go well?”
“She didn’t do it but she did know that Kerry and Trapp were friends and he recommended his dry cleaners.”
Tony nodded as that confirmed what they suspected. “So it will be poison from the dry cleaners. We can arrest them when we hit the ground. What about the planes?”
Tony was handed the schematics. Tony started to compare them and there was only one difference. “The door locks are analogue, not digital - manual codes and the like on Air Force One right now.”
Gibbs shrugged. “Who would have the codes?”
Tony didn’t know that. “I am sure the delightful Agent Todd could answer that.”
Gibbs came back and this time he was carrying a body bag? Tony didn’t like where this was going. “Why do you have a body bag?”
“I need a decoy body to give Fornell.” Gibbs explained as if it was obvious.
Tony sighed. “And you want me to be the decoy?”
Gibbs nodded. “Easiest undercover job you’ll play. You just have to play dead.”
Tony took a deep breath because no - he didn’t like this. “Boss, I am supposed to be taking a TAD and picking up the dry cleaners.”
Gibbs waved off his concern. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll take Todd and you’ll be back for the questioning.”
Tony knew there was no point in arguing with Gibbs when he got an idea in his head. He didn’t like the way, though, that a person of interest in the case was suddenly going along to help arrest a suspect. This was a clusterfuck situation waiting to happen. “This is not going to end well but as you wish.”
Fornell came storming into NCIS.
He was well used to Gibbs and his stunts but this one was at a new level and upon seeing his old acquaintance he felt his blood pressure rise once more.
“You put your boy in a body bag. Of all the crazy maneuvers, Gibbs, this one takes the cake.”
“Worked, didn’t it?” Gibbs responded. And it had. The extra time with the body had given Abby and Ducky the time to identify the poison and the how of their deaths. Now they just needed to figure out why the two ball carriers had been murdered. The only motive they had so far was changing the plane but even then there was little to gain.
Fornell looked around wanting to talk to Tony and offer him a job once more, especially if Gibbs was happy to make him play a corpse. “Well, where is he? Or hasn’t your boy made it back yet?”
Gibbs frowned because Tony had not made it back. “How long ago?” Gibbs wasn’t liking the fact that Fornell assumed he’d be back. Tony wasn’t the type to sulk he would argue to your face.
Fornell thought about it. “We chucked his ass on to the highway a few hours ago. He should have made it back by now...”
Kate frowned, thinking about his exact words. “Wait, when you say
chucked his ass
you mean you made him get out of the car, don’t you?”
“Ummm….. No. We were in a hurry.” Fornell answered. His case was about to be snatched from under his nose. He hadn’t been thinking about social niceties. This was not going to end well, damn it, he should have stopped the car first but he’d been in a rush.
Kate was horrified. “So you pushed him out of a moving car? Was he at least out of the bag?”
“Semi.” As if that was somehow a better answer. It really wasn’t.
She looked to Gibbs. “I’ll start checking the hospitals.”
Morrow had stormed onto the upper floor of the bullpen and did not look happy. “Agents Gibbs and Fornell. MTAC NOW! You have some explaining to do.”
Kate was stunned. “What’s going on?”
Gibbs wanted to facepalm because now was not the time. This was a cruel and unusual punishment. “We have to talk with Daddy dearest. Come along, Tobias. I’m not facing the Mob on my own.”
Gibbs would freely admit that the second b in his name was for bastard. He wasn’t going to enjoy this but at least he wasn’t going to suffer alone. “You heard if Tony was injured by your stunt they’ll have contacted his next of kin.”
Todd was a smart girl even if she was making bad relationship choices. “What should I do?”
Gibbs gave her an order. “Re-vet the crew and look for any changes caused by switching to the backup plane. Someone went to a lot of trouble to get a switch - I wanna know why.”
Fornell, meanwhile, was trying to figure out what in the blue blazes was going on. “Gibbs, Senior is an idiot; he is not the Mob.”
Gibbs snorted. “True ... but DiNozzo did a UC job in the Mancuso family back when he was a cop. He was good at it too, rose to a level where the Don called him son ... Now fast forward to where Tony puts him in jail and instead of getting a contract on his life, he gets an adoption. His biological father is a pisspoor one so Tony recently decided to roll with it.”
Fornell paused. “Tony DiNozzo is the Mob Prince, Antonio Mancuso?”
Gibbs shrugged. “When he wants to be and he tends to only use it to extract his boyfriend from villains.”
Fornell rolled his eyes. “I could believe the mob, as strange as that sounds, but you expect me to believe DiNozzo’s gay?”
Gibbs shrugged as it wasn’t up to him to change Fornell’s mind. Morrow looked at him. “I have just had the deputy director of the CIA offer up his video link so Salvatore Mancuso can berate his son’s bosses for being careless with his life.”
Fornell quirked an eyebrow. “Oh, since when did Andrews just offer up his office?”
Gibbs just motioned with his hand to enter MTAC.
Salvatore looked furious. “Why did you think you could be stupid with my boy’s life?”
Fornell knew right there and then that he’d watched too many gangster movies. He suddenly had images of dead animal heads in his bed. He was smart enough to be contrite. “It was a mistake, sir.”
“And why should I believe you?”
Gibbs snorted. “Look, it was a dumbass move and seeing your face on the screen has probably scared a few years off his life. I think it’s safe to say it won’t happen again.”
Mancuso smirked and Gibbs saw DiNozzo in that grin even if they weren’t blood-related . “You Federal Agents always get so nervous around me. I don’t understand it. I live by good honest rules and the first one is - don’t screw over who you are working with. A rule you should both remember.”
There was a pause but he wasn’t done. “You should know that Alona and I have been trying to convince him to take a position elsewhere, even the CIA would be less careless of him than you. If he won’t work with the family he should at least work closer to us. It wouldn’t have worked before today. Tony is too loyal, but there was you being callous with his life ... and then there is the part where I have his lover by his bedside. Neal really is a joy to the family, you know.”
Gibbs groaned as this really was a clusterfuck. “You had him airlifted to New York.”
Salvatore nodded, glaring at him. “That was the reason for the initial call. When he was alone on the highway and disorientated from the grade 2 concussion and dislocated shoulder, he used his good arm to call me. I ranked higher in trust than his boss, you see. As his power of attorney, I admit I used the influence but I didn’t want Tony punished for my being over-protective.”
You had to admire a guy who could cut you down with words way quicker than a gun. Gibbs heard the intended comment - you failed to watch his six.
Morrow was quick to step in. “I understand, Mr. Mancuso and Agent DiNozzo has been signed off on eight weeks medical leave. I can understand your frustration with my agent but I would ask you to let me speak with Agent DiNozzo first. He is a credit to the agency and I would hate to see him leave over this transgression.”
Salvatore shrugged. “That will be up to Tony. Oh, and Agent Gibbs, Tony insisted I tell you they copied the damn movie, Air Force One ... the armoury is the difference.”
The call ended there. It seemed once a Mob boss had said his piece, the meeting was over.
It wasn’t over. Morrow was using his phone. “Get Todd and get over there. Fornell, you can question the prisoner, they’re in interrogation room 1.”
Neal was sitting in the hospital room holding Tony’s hand. He was so grateful that Peter had agreed to stay with him so he wouldn’t need to worry about the tag radius. They weren’t alone as Alona and Salvatore were also in the room with Tony as they listened to the doctor’s final prognosis.
“He can go home, provided he is watched. Having listened to the full events I’ve signed the note for eight weeks. The injuries should take 4 to 6 weeks to heal but if your workplace is careless with you ... Best to make sure you are fully healed.”
Tony narrowed his eyes at his Pops as he was sure that last line and the note were from his prompting. Still, he was feeling pretty bruised and in no particular hurry to rush back to NCIS.
“Come on loverboy, let’s get you home. I am going to keep you with me for as long as possible.” Neal promised in a vaguely threatening way.
Oh man, did Tony love his boyfriend’s big blue eyes right then.
“But...” Alona started.
Neal’s charm went into overload. “Please, you know we won’t have much time together before Washington snatches him away.”
She was pouting so Neal conceded. He got an inkling of what it was like when he pulled the same stunt. “You’re more than welcome to drop by and we’ll have to have lunch before the party.”
Tony was impressed - his boyfriend was quite the negotiator and managed to fix the situation quite to his liking. “We have a surprise planned for the party and it will be ruined if I am staying at yours.”
His mamma pouted but kissed his cheeks. “I will allow it as I am a sucker for a good love story but don’t be a stranger, Antonio.”
“I won’t. I promise.”
Tony went through the same ritual with Pops and then it was just him, Neal and Agent Burke left in the room. Neal very carefully arranged it so that he could lie on the bed with Tony. It wasn’t like Peter didn’t know they were dating.
Tony managed even as his eyes started to droop with tiredness.
Neal chuckled. “Relax. I told you I had your back.”
Tony grinned. “You did, didn’t you.”
Burke was frowning. “What did I miss?”
Tony took pity and
used his last reserves to help Neal. He wanted to
lay the foundations to make sure Neal wasn’t getting harassed for associating with him. “Look, you know the background for me, right?”
Burke took a deep breath and laid out what he knew. “You went Mob hunting a few years ago, you even got Salvatore behind bars but the prosecution screwed the case. Yet, incredibly, instead of a hit, he adopts you and names you his heir. Reluctant though you may be.”
Tony grins. “You know, the next time I have a Washington Fed quiz me about my connections I am going to use that.”
Burke had a realisation. “You don’t want to get sucked in.”
Tony nodded. “Family for me was always an elusive thing before the Mancuso's and that can be a dangerous thing.”
Burke understood that a lot and his respect for Neal’s agent grew. He knew what he was and was avoiding the temptation that could lead him astray. Any man could respect that.
A month or so later, the party was in full swing. Neal had gladly taken June’s suggestion for a party location, even more incredibly this restaurant was within two miles of the apartment. The family had all come as one might expect when the party was being held for the godfather himself. Tony was standing to the side and he saw the glare from his boyfriend. “I’m fine.” He tried to assure his lover.
Neal, however, did not look convinced. “Your concussion was a grade 2 and your shoulder has barely healed.”
“I’ve got a hard head and another arm. I feel fine.” Tony promised him.
Neal snorted at his response. “Tell that to someone who hasn’t watched you heal.”
Tony chuckled because that is why they worked. “Hey, it’s dinner with the Mob.” Like that was an everyday occurrence, then finished with a light tone with a hint of warning. “T he only two I have to watch for are Luca and Lorenzo. They just don’t like me.”
Neal sighed as with the men in question that could mean a variety of things . “So they’ve poisoned the food or I should watch where I sleep?”
Tony hugged him from behind. “The latter -
but for me
, they don’t like my job.”
Neal chuckled because it was an extraordinary life his lover had led. It spoke a great deal about his partner’s character that he could be a federal agent and also adopted into the Mob.
Neal looked at all the happy smiling people around him . It was hard to reconcile this scene with the fact they were the ruling Mob family of New York.
Tony stiffened, seeing Lorenzo
them. “Hey, how you doin?”
Lorenzo sneered at him . “Why the lavish party?”
Tony stood stonily not reacting to the tone, knowing it would probably upset Lorenzo more . “It’s momma and father’s 40th anniversary. I’d stressed them out enough as it is. This is my thank you, and Vicenzio phoned me up and politely suggested I do it. ”
Tony shrugged. “I helped pull a stunt that embarrassed the Feebs. Their response saw me with a concussion and a dislocated shoulder.”
“Did you make them pay?”
Tony smirked. “Actually, pops did - he was most put out. Still, he used it to his advantage as I am recuperating here in New York instead of DC.”
Lorenzo huffed but his body language was a lot more friendly than when they’d started . “I suppose if you’re being a Fed, at least you’re not an FBI agent.”
Tony grinned and accepted the hug as he’d heard what could only be described as acceptance in the man’s voice. That meant he just had Luca to keep an eye on.
“Things are going okay.” Neal said as a way to lighten the mood. Tony just gave him a look.
“Let’s not jinx it.” Tony said, his eyes roving over the party. It was in full swing and so jovial - a true success and best of all, Alona was laughing.
“Are you sure your arm is healed enough for this?”
Neal asked because playing the piano well was tough even when you weren’t recovering from a dislocated shoulder.
Tony hugged his lover. “I am fine, you saw the x-rays yourself. Don’t fret - I have two more weeks.”
Neal pouted, not wanting to think about Tony having to return to Washington. He’d grown rather attached to having Tony here in New York - he couldn’t deny that. “You ready for the song?”
Tony linked his arm with Neal’s and they headed for the stage with the band. They’d timed it to perfection so as to enter the stage as the band finished the last of the set. Tony took to the mic. “So I wanted to do something special for my favourite couple in New York ... And I just know that you’ll love this song.”
He moved to the piano as Neal took over the microphone. “This song is for a couple who have taken us into their hearts. Enjoy.”
Neal started to sing the words to Speak Softly Love. The irony was them picking the godfather theme tune but the performance was mesmerizingly good.
“ Speak softly, love and hold me warm against your heart
I feel your words, the tender trembling moments start
We're in a world, our very own
Sharing a love that only few have ever known
Wine-colored days warmed by the sun”
Tony was so focussed on the melody at the piano that he missed the other couples who joined his adoptive parents. It was like the music draped over the audience and they were drawn to dancing.
“Deep velvet nights when we are one
Speak softly, love so no one hears us but the sky
The vows of love we make will live until we die
My life is yours and all because
You came into my world with love so softly love”
The rest of the song carried on and applause greeted the last note. Tony and Neal were a little taken aback by the applause but bowed good naturedly, throwing kisses towards Alona and Salvatore.
Neal and Tony were happy that their gift was so well received as they stepped off the stage together to applause. As Salvatore and Alona made their way through the crowd it parted for them.
“That was a special performance, Tonio.” Alona said, positively glowing.
Tony’s smile actually grew. “All for you, Mama, this is your evening to enjoy.”
She patted his cheek. “I am. I have my sons and family around me, how can I not?”
He saw Neal freeze at that as he realised he was now included in the family. “You finished your dancing?”
She nodded. “Alas we’re old and it is time to head to bed. You will stay though in our place.”
Tony nodded. “If you wish but let me show you out.”
Salvatore smirked. “I have my men.”
Tony shrugged. “I know but humour me, I’m protective.”
The couple smiled at Tony. “We know when we’re beat.”
Tony didn’t look smug as that would be crass. “Thank you. Be right back, baby.”
Tony’s instincts were primed, if Gibbs was around he would be talking about his gut. He unbuttoned his shoulder holster casually. He looked at Salvatore’s bodyguards and they didn’t sense anything. Tony wasn’t convinced.
He stayed ahead of Alona and started to scan as if in Agent mode. “There is no active threat, Tonio.”
Tony shrugged. “Just because there is no intelligence doesn’t mean there isn’t a threat.”
Salvatore chuckled. “I teach you to be that paranoid?”
Tony smirked. “Nope, life did.”
The car was just in sight and the traffic was moving normally, nothing suspicious.
Until the gunshot crack could be heard echoing through the sheet. The bodyguards unholstered their weapons but Tony was ahead of them. His weapon was raised waiting for the car to come back around. “Do not shoot, they’re mine. Protect momma and help father.”
Tony’s mind was all hyper-focused - he would make sure that they didn’t get a chance to take out Salvatore and Alona, and he would do his best to use his status to protect the family. The night had been going so well.
Chapter 4: Ep 4: Line in the Sand
Tony’s world shrank to small chunks of time; The shooting of his adoptive father, the ordering of Pop’s men to protect Alona and ordering to Neal to keep everyone else back, the squeal of tyres as the car raced away, the echo of the gunshot still in the air. Time came racing back to full speed as he noticed the blood starting to pool across his father’s shirt and he bent down to render aid. Tony wasn’t leaving anything to chance - he couldn’t protect his Pops and be ready for a shooter. “Pops, stay with me.” Tony ordered.
“Tonio ... your mama ... look after her.”
Tony had never been glad to see the scheming eyes of Salvatore so much. The guards were keeping the guests in the function room as a way to minimise collateral. One of them shouted. “They’re coming back!”
Tony growled, even if he was on the phone calling it in, in order to get support. He wasn’t naive and his phone recorded all conversations as a matter of course and protection.
“Don’t shoot.” Tony ordered. He could see the argument forming on Lorenzo’s face, he was loyal to Salvatore so Tony changed tactics. “Here, keep up the pressure.”
The phone operator replied. “The FBI is on the way.”
Tony’s fury was growing by the second. The local cops had passed it on immediately meaning the initial response was being delayed. It could mean the difference between life and death for his Pops. To the operator he replied. “Well, thanks for the backup as I’m about to be shot at ... again.”
He dropped his phone onto the grass next to the sidewalk as it would still record the scene for him. He took a steady aim as the car came back into view - they would not get a second shot at his father.
Tony waited for the second the gun was visible and fired. It was a direct hit to the driver’s shoulder, who then lost control of the car and cannoned into a tree on the sidewalk. Tony advanced on the fallen car, yanking out the cuffs that he still had on him out of habit. He only had one set so he cuffed the two occupants, the driver, and the shooter, to each other. The shooter wasn’t willing but a cold-cock with the butt of his gun settled the issue.
The other guard, Luca, was backing him up. It was nice to see, especially considering his own law fraternity hadn’t. That was not a slight he was going to forget anytime soon.
Luca grunted. “You let him live?”
It was clear by his tone that he was less than impressed.
Tony shared a dark look with him, deciding to make Luca aware of his reasoning . “Dead men can’t tell tales.”
This all had happened before the FBI arrived. Finally, they were on the scene and Tony took charge. He pointed at the wrecked car. “That man shot my father, you’ll find him cuffed and the driver needs help too.”
The Agent in Charge looked unimpressed with him.
Tony listened in disbelief as the first words out of the agent’s mouth were.
“In your call, you identified as a Federal Agent.”
Tony rolled his eyes, showing his badge. Did the moron seriously think he’d lie about being an Agent? Still, he happily dispelled that myth. “Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo. NCIS. Call Agent Tobias Fornell in DC for more information if you feel you have to.”
Tony watched as Alona stepped closer to her husband, watching the EMT’s like hawks. He was perhaps a little rude but he walked away from the Special Agent in Charge and went to check on his adoptive mother . He hugged her close now it was safe to do so. “I will look after here and the guests, you go with Pops.”
“Keep Luca with you ... for my peace of mind.” She half pleaded, half ordered.
How could Tony protest? Sneaky woman. Another SVU rocked up to the sidewalk but this time it was the friendlier FBI faces of Peter Burke and his second, Diana. The ones who worked with Neal, day in day out. Tony welcomed their presence because he got the feeling that if it was just him and Agent Edwards, he’d do something he’d regret.
Tony walked over to Burke now that his adoptive parents were in the ambulance. He reassured Burke. “Hey. Neal is safe inside. Also, this is a mess and your Agent is already prejudicial which is starting to piss me off .”
“Is Salvatore okay? I know you’re getting closer.”
Peter asked him, earning good points with Tony.
Tony shrugged as he didn’t have an answer. “I hope so. I stopped the shooter from having a second go but emergency services decided to pass on the request to the FBI, delaying a response.”
Peter didn’t bother to hide his horror. “You identified
as an agent
in your call
Tony nodded. “Yep, but I made the mistake of naming Pops as the victim. Oh, and when your agent got here he was about to insinuate it was a federal crime to impersonate an agent.”
Peter despaired as this was the last thing Tony needed. Neal had told him about the Air Force One fiasco and the stunt engineered by Gibbs and Fornell. This might be one hit too many when it came to trust. Peter shivered as he remembered how good Tony was at playing Mob Prince to free Neal from Adler. He didn’t think New York would know what hit it if he stopped playing at being the Prince.
Peter tried to give something back to Tony as he was all too aware that he could be talking to the next head of the
Mancuso family if events tonight went badly
. “We’re not all like that and I
deal with Agent Edwards. Tell Neal not to worry about the tag and just get to the hospital.
You should be with your family.
Tony nodded in thanks. He needed Burke to know just what the score was before he headed to the hospital. “Look, I kept this from turning into a killing spree but if it is a rival family...”
Tony let the statement hang in the air. He made sure the guests were okay and departing as soon as statements were taken. He had to smile at the way Vincent, their consigliere was standing as each and every statement was taken. There was a reason why he’d been in the position for ten years . Tony could see Peter with the other FBI and it looked like Agent Edwards was not liking what he was hearing.
Tony allowed himself a smirk as he slipped into the backseat of the car with Neal as Luca started the drive to the hospital.
Neal kept Tony’s hands in his lap as a way to keep him grounded, in the vain hope he’d rest for those few minutes. It was semi-working.
“Why now?” Tony asked, tiredness seeping into his voice.
as there was no good reason. Neal suspected that it might be people thinking the family would be at its weakest at an anniversary celebration. They’d made a grave mistake because Tony hunted people down for a living and that was without the incentive of it being someone he cared for like Salvatore,
“People were happy and not as on guard - so it could be seen as a good opportunity. You saved his life though - don’t doubt that.”
Tony looked into Neal’s eyes. “That was instinct. Thank you for keeping people calm inside.”
Neal had a small smile as at the time, it was the only thing he could do to help . “Hey, I knew you needed to concentrate, it just sucked to see you without much backup.”
Tony growled. “It was deliberate, you know. Dispatch passed it straight over to the FBI and delayed the response.”
Neal was alert now because things were starting to make sense. Jesus, surely they wouldn’t have done something that moronic would they? He said it aloud. “No, they wouldn’t be that stupid, would they?”
Tony pulled Neal close, needing a few minutes of comfortable normalness. “They did, there are agents like Edwards, who believe that you should let the mob kill each other and not try to intervene.”
Neal sighed as he could hear the hurt in Tony’s voice . “You’re an agent - they should have sent help for you.”
Tony snorted as tonight had helped him put a few things in perspective . “Yeah but I am an agent who has been adopted by a Mob king, this was their way of telling me I have cast my lot. As far as they’re concerned I’m now just a mobster. ”
Neal asked the most pertinent question. “Are you okay with that?”
Tony was more than aware of Luca in the front of the car. He went with facts and what he knew. “I know that today, I couldn’t bear the thought of Pops being dead. I know that when I secured the shooter, Luca and co backed me up whilst the cops played pass the buck long enough to see me in true danger.”
Neal put his head on Tony’s shoulder and sighed. “It’s been a long night and it isn’t even close to being done.”
Tony chuckled but it was tense and brittle, he was too worried. “Yeah, I know.”
Tony made a vow to himself, he would see the family pull together. He would make sure that any reprisals were done in a smart way that couldn’t see the FBI profit or take any of his family away. Yet, that didn’t mean the party who did the shooting would be left alone. You should never attack a wildcard, you wouldn’t be able to predict the reprisal.
Back in Washington, Fornell paled at what he was hearing
from the agent in New York
. “What the hell do you mean?”
The vein in his forehead was beginning to throb as he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He hoped desperately that he’d misunderstood what he’d heard. After all, there was naivety and then there was plain stupidity - and this, sadly, was the latter.
Edwards was actually trying to justify himself. “
Sir, the local PD passed the call on. By the time we’d got there, Mancuso’s son had shot the driver and cuffed them.”
Fornell pinched his nose because he was ready to call bullshit and enlighten the bigoted agent on a few things . “What I want you to explain is exactly what you mean by when you got there? Oh, and Mancuso’s son has a name - Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo. NCIS. ”
Edwards snorted. “Yeah, I heard that but his face was promising retribution of a hellfire kind. He did not look like a Fed - more like one of the mob.”
Fornell groaned because this was going from bad to terrible. This was a situation of his making - Tony wouldn’t have been in New York but for his stunt
on the highway
. “Tell me I do not have to let Agent Jethro Gibbs know that you almost got his protege shot because you’re stupid?”
“I don’t understand, Sir.”
Tobias thought the saddest part of this whole situation was that he could well bet the little idiot didn’t know why he was pissed. “You may have just pushed one of the best young agents in Washington into the arms of his family because he saw your stunt as a betrayal. You were supposed to back a fucking agent up. I did not think I would have to explain it!”
He ended the call because he needed to get in touch with Gibbs, he needed to fix this before it became an epic clusterfuck.
He could only hope it wasn’t too late.
The hospital waiting room was tense and the aura of stifled violence was almost palpable. It was hard to describe what grief, fear, and anger all feel like. If you tried it would be something like this room.
Neal saw the guards flanking the door, no one but Tony, Alona and him were allowed in this room. It had been Tony’s order and he hadn’t thought twice about it. It was the prudent measure. As much as you may want family and friends close - when it came to the mob until they knew where the hit came from, they’d trust very few people. Tony knew that an ambitious lieutenant could order a hit in the hope of rising to the top in the aftermath.
The Doctor came in. “Mrs. Mancuso?”
“That’s me.” She stood, all poise and elegance despite her worry.
Tony was right by her side, he prayed for good news. He didn’t know what he would do if his Pops was dead. It was a scary thought and he was glad Neal was clutching his hand, it was the best anchor he could hope for under these circumstances.
Alona asked quickly, not wanting her imagination to run away further without information. “What is the news on my husband?”
The doctor gave his prognosis. “There was a lot of damage and the delay in treatment didn’t help but he will pull through the surgeries. The immediate danger has passed, however, with Mr. Mancuso’s age the surgeon wants to repair as much muscle damage now, rather than put his body under the stress of multiple surgeries.”
Tony felt relief that he’d pull through, however, the words delay in treatment kept bouncing around his skull. He couldn’t shake those words no matter how hard he tried. He held Alona as she hugged him with relief. “He’ll be okay.” She whispered.
He smiled at Neal who just gave him a fond look in return. “I know, he is too stubborn to leave you. He loves you too much, momma.” Tony said. The names momma and father would no longer be said to appease or to annoy others. Tony had started to think of them that way. They’d had his back through thick and thin. His adoptive father hadn’t even held the fact he’d sent him to jail with his evidence against him. When he compared that to his conman father who’d been a dick and only seemed to periodically remember he was alive when it suited him - well, Senior was found wanting.
“You saved him.” She said, so sure.
Tony shrugged it off. “I couldn’t let Pops die, you know that.”
She grinned but held his cheek in her cupped hand so she could see into his eyes. “This won’t be forgotten by your family. Sadly, nor will it be by the Feds.”
Tony snorted. “Momma, they left me out to hang this evening. They are not any type of family I’d want any longer. I’m thinking long and hard about my options ... right now, let’s just focus on Pops’ health.”
Fornell’s intentions were good but ultimately only time would tell if he would be too late.
Chapter 5: Ep 5: Trouble Ahead
Episode 5: Trouble Ahead
Tony stood watching the laboured breathing of his adopted father. The sound of the machine, oh so loud, in the otherwise silent hospital room. His momma was sitting in the chair, holding his Pop’s hand. He hated how lifeless Salvatore looked. After all, not just a few months ago his Pops was running Fornell, Gibbs and Morrow ragged for being careless with his life.
“He is alive, Tonio.” Alona spoke softly but with a core of steel. It was if her own determination to see him live would make it so.
Tony nodded and Neal was leaning into his side, offering silent comfort. As grateful as he was for Neal’s presence, he couldn’t shake the delayed response earlier in the evening from his mind. He’d never liked the Feebs but this was too much. Their lack of response could have seen him, his adoptive parents and their guests dead. It was a fact that kept bouncing around his skull especially as the adrenaline had now left his system. He did reply though. “I know mamma, and I am relieved. He wouldn’t leave you without a fight. He loves you too much.”
She smiled, lifting his hand to her cheek. “And I him. Now you don’t need to sit and brood here.” She looked resolute as she finished with. “Go and find out who did this?”
Tony shook his head, understanding the request and wanting to do exactly that but he couldn’t. “I can’t leave you unprotected.”
She rolled her eyes because honestly, she was more than capable of defending herself. She knew what life Salvatore led and she’d vowed never to be a liability, she made sure that she and Salvatore were partners in all things. “I have Luca and Lorenzo. We need to know if this was a deliberate takedown or opportunism. They’ve threatened the heart of our family. They will see that we’re stronger than they ever realised.”
Tony kissed his mamma’s cheek. “I will do as you ask but please phone me the minute anything changes.”
Alona smiled at him. “You will be the first call.”
Neal stood and walked out with him. He waited until they were in the cab going back to his apartment. “Are you ready to go down this path?”
Tony wasn’t naive and he knew exactly what Neal was talking about. “Right now, I just want answers and I hope there is enough time to make a decision without emotions getting involved.”
Neal followed Tony - whatever rabbit hole his lover delved into, Neal committed to following him. He wasn’t too worried because, for Tony, justice was always at the forethought of what he did. “Come what may - let’s go find out the truth.”
Fornell had grabbed Gibbs and practically hauled him onto a company plane. He knew time was of the essence. “You need to listen; Tony needs your help.”
“What did you do?” Gibbs asked eyes narrowed to dangerous slits.
Fornell huffed as he resented the implication. Still, his answer wasn’t exactly going to be comforting. “A call came in this evening, reporting the shooting of one Salvatore Mancuso. The call was made by Tony, who identified as an agent. Dispatch passed it on immediately but chose to pass it directly to the FBI and thus delayed first responders ... When they did arrive, Tony was standing there, having shot the driver, cuffed the shooter and resenting the fuck out of Agent Edwards’ implication that he shouldn’t
being an agent.”
Gibbs sighed because this situation was already FUBAR and he didn’t think there was much he could do to help the situation. “Was there a contract out on Salvatore?”
Fornell chuckled ruefully as of course, it was not that simple. “No contract and they shot at Mancuso in the presence of his wife, Alona.”
Gibbs pinched his nose in frustration. Tony didn’t have a temper unless willfully provoked - shooting his adoptive father was bad enough but if Alona had been harmed…. well, he didn’t think New York was ready for the firestorm that would be Tony in wildcard mood. “Where is Tony now?”
“They took Mancuso to Mt Sinai.” Tobias replied.
Gibbs snorted. “He won’t be there and you better stay out in the hall. You are still persona non grata with the Mancuso family.”
Fornell shivered as though there were many places you should want to be - at the top of an active mob family’s list of enemies wasn’t one of them. “You want to talk to the mob?”
Gibbs smirked at his old friend. “You worry too much and it’s your agency’s mess that I’m fixing. Get Andrews to the hospital, I want to find out where they’re at.”
Fornell quirked an eyebrow. “Is that a good idea?”
Gibbs took a deep breath and walked into the lion’s den, better known as the Mancuso room. Two guards had tried to stop him and he’d said he was Tony’s boss.
“Why are you here, Agent Gibbs? You can’t have my son, he is caring for his family. Where he should be.”
Gibbs had heard that tone before, it was anger at betrayal. The Feebs had fucked up badly, this was not going to go well. The Mancuso's had been civilising all their businesses in recent months - Gibbs was sure that it was because they wanted Tony to come truly into the fold. “I’m not here to stop him, in fact, I will help him.”
“I suppose there is some benefit of you not being a
Gibbs smirked. “I know you don’t have a high opinion but the agent yesterday acted without direction from his bosses.”
“And how would you know that?” She asked shrewdly.
Gibbs answered without hesitation. “Agent Fornell. He was asked about Tony and he dragged me here to New York sensing the problem. He’d come in but since he was careless with Tony I suggested he stay outside.”
She glared, just thinking about the events that had led to Tony’s current stay in New York. Although, right now, she couldn’t help but be grateful as without Tony’s help, who knows what might have happened. She had a terrible suspicion that she might be planning a funeral. Still, she had to shake it off, she had Salvatore alive. If the stupid Fed had clues that could help her family it would be stupid to reject it out of spite. “Tell him to come in.”
Alona rolled her eyes. “Who is this agent asking after my Tony? And why should I believe anything the FBI has to say considering what they did to my family yesterday?”
Short and to the point was often best. Fornell shrugged. “Well, ma’am, Agent Edwards phoned me and his responses have brought myself here to launch an investigation into his actions.”
Alona thought it through. “I’d look to see for payments off the Frangelino’s.”
Fornell racked his memory. “They were the third most powerful family until last month.”
She smirked. “Yes they rose to second after a tip we gave Agent Peter Burke. Opportunism suggests that you might try to take out the top family.”
“To what purpose?”
Alona chuckled but it lacked mirth. “Power begets power, and money follows and in my experience humans never can say enough is enough.”
There was a lot of wisdom in those words, and Fornell could see how badly they’d dismissed Alona Mancuso, just assuming she was the typical Mafia wife.
Tony had left the hospital and he needed peace and quiet to gather his thoughts. “Let’s go back to yours.”
Neal kissed him softly. “Whatever you need.”
The couple said little in the car, what was telling was the minute they got in the backseat they linked hands. Tony’s mind was racing - he had a problem, he needed to fix it. This was his kind of task - an investigation. So he started with the threads he knew. “Countermeasures on.”
Neal was surprised but shouldn’t have been. Tony was the heir of the Mancuso clan, only previously he’d never really owned the title. Neal understood, he was seeing Tony accept who he wanted to be.
Neal spoke. “You have the players and you know the play.”
Tony nodded because he could see all the pieces to the metaphorical chessboard. Agent Edwards, the shooter, the tip his pop gave to Burke, this was a power play - an intricate one at that.
So many questions. Who benefited? Was it just Agent Edwards on the take? Or someone else? Did the Frangelino’s decide to see if they could be top dog?
The night may be young but he could get his answers.
Agent Kramer was listening to what his protege, Edwards, was saying with growing disbelief. “Are you kidding me?”
This was supposed to have been simple.
Edwards shook his head. “No, the hit took place but his son shot the shooter and I couldn’t even arrest him.”
Kramer shuddered because the shooter was one of the best pros in New York. For anyone to be able to take them out, well, they would have to have some skill. This was ridiculous, he’d made it his life's mission to take down the mob in New York. The recent changes to the Mancuso family and the outward appearance of legitimisation had made them become less of a priority to the bureau. He needed to prove they were still the ruthless bastards who’d dogged his career whilst assigned to organised crimes.
His mind replayed what had just been said. “Why the hell didn’t you arrest the guy?”
Edwards looked at him aghast. “You know the rumours about Mancuso’s favourite heir?”
Kramer shrugged because it had to be horseshit. There was no way that the man would adopt the agent who put him in jail, albeit even for a year. “Yes but they’re all crap, right?”
Edwards shook his head. “No, Antonio Mancuso goes to work as Anthony DiNozzo Jr, NCIS Federal Agent. SFA of the MCRT in Washington DC.”
Kramer paled, he knew that name. He knew the circles he’d heard that name whispered. There was an agent when something undercover was needed. He got the job done. He never asked for something outrageous, just usually asked for some favour in the future. Kramer was also well aware that when Burke lost his favourite pet, Caffrey, it was DiNozzo that had waltzed in to snatch him out of Vincent Adler’s arms.
Of course, this was highly problematic for him - After all, Adler had supported Kramer very well. It was how he’d always managed to stay one step ahead of the FBI. Kramer had supplemented his income by keeping the less ruthless mob families afloat. In his mind, he was doing the country a favour.
Edwards was still vexed. “Yeah, he stood there and then swanned off into the sunset with his boyfriend, Caffrey.”
Kramer thought about this - at one time, he’d considered stealing Caffrey to come and work for him. There must be a way to exploit his FBI contract but as his own acts got more daring, he didn’t want anyone close who could blow the whistle.
It didn’t matter, his plan may not have fully succeeded but Mancuso was out of action and so the family would be leaderless. They could act, they had a window of opportunity but did they have the guts to take the necessary action?
Chapter 6: Ep 6: Split no More
Tony was at the table in Neal’s open space, there were files scattered over the table. They were looking for threads to link all the players. He would act in the best interest of the family but Tony wouldn’t do anything unless he had all the information at his fingertips - Gibbs had taught him that.
Neal frowned as he flipped through one document. “Edwards’ mentor is interesting.”
Tony looked up as he recognised that tone. It was one of a mystery that needed to be solved. “Why?”
Neal knew it was a strange coincidence. “Well, he was Peter’s first boss.”
Tony thought about it and dragged his laptop over, then brought up the service record with a few taps on the keyboard. Neal was curious. “Just how high is your security level?”
Tony could answer that as it was a graded system. “A2”
Neal whistled as there was only one classification higher, and that was for the big chiefs. It would make sense though, Tony had hinted he was often pulled for big undercover jobs. As a result, you would need to have the highest clearance to be privy to the details of those types of cases. It had been a firm and hard fact, he would not enter a job without knowing all the available facts. Ignorance wasn’t bliss when it came to undercover - it just led to death.
“Huh.” Tony was starting to smell a rat.
“What?” Neal quirked an eyebrow at the look on his lover’s face. “Let me guess ... He’s organised crime?”
Tony nodded and his unease was growing. “Oh yeah, and has acted upon information from the Frangelino family on several occasions. The dumbass bastard didn’t even try and hide it behind the veil of a confidential informant.”
Neal sighed because that was pretty blatant - it was more than likely someone at the bureau was turning a blind eye on the grounds of the results it yielded. It wouldn’t be the first time either. “So what does that mean?”
Tony snorted because Neal had worked with Peter too long not to know. “You know what it means - it smacks to me of a dirty cop.” Tony wanted to scream, or punch something. It seemed yet again there was a dirty cop doing his best to ruin Tony’s life. Tony took a deep breath and picked up his phone, his fingers pressing for the consigliere.
“Hey, Vincent. Look, bring to me everything the familia has on the Frangelino’s and Agents Kramer and Edwards.”
Tony rolled his eyes at whatever the response was and finished firmly. “Bring it me, I know you know where I’m staying or you shouldn’t be the consigliere.” He was silent for a moment then snorted at whatever reply he heard before hanging up.
Neal watched as Tony dealt with the problem at hand calmly and with precision. Neal knew he could ask Peter but he wouldn’t do that unless he checked with Tony first. The FBI had done enough to damage Tony’s trust these last few days. “Should I reach out to Peter?”
Tony looked thoughtful. “What do you think? I also have to ask, how certain are you Burke is clean?”
Neal recoiled even though the question was fair. “I wouldn’t have used him as my way out of prison into this deal if I thought he was dirty and I researched him carefully. There was no way I was going to willingly chain myself to a crooked bastard. I’d never be free.”
“Do it. You know Burke best but tread carefully because he won’t like his worldview of his mentor being challenged.” Tony warned him and Neal sensed he was speaking from experience.
Gibbs picked up his phone and went straight to the source. “Tony. What’s your address?”
The voice on the other side was arguing in Italian, it was rapid and passionate. Gibbs didn’t have enough fluency to follow it completely like he could with Russian. “So what? I want to know what you’ve figured out.”
There was a smirk on Gibbs’ face that did not in the slightest bit reassure Fornell. “Well, that all depends on what you know, Tony, doesn’t it?”
The phone call ended and the car whipped into the oncoming traffic. Fornell chose to start the conversation in order to distract himself from the horrendous driving. “What did he say?”
Gibbs grinned. “He explained he had family around and that myself and you may feel uncomfortable.”
That was an understatement. Fornell huffed. “Who?”
“The lawyer and a few others.”
Fornell wanted to roll his eyes at such a lack of depth. Vincent, the Consigliere, was a canny bastard and very good at his job. It was one of the reasons the family had escaped relatively unscathed from the law. He was also the reason, despite Tony’s good work, the FBI hadn’t been able to get a long stretch for Salvatore. “Why would I be uncomfortable?”
“Tony is digging into two of your colleagues,” Gibbs explained.
Fornell grimaced at the thought there could be two agents who’d betrayed the agency. He wasn’t naive - greed and other reasons have seen it happen before, and they would again. “I would rather handle it than allow the mafia to take their retribution.”
“Well, you’ll have to convince Tony of that - It was more than obvious in that phone call that he’s the one calling the shots right now.”
Fornell hadn’t been convinced that the Mafia family would accept Tony as the de-facto leader because of his government roots.
He was about to be proved wrong.
The scene that faced Gibbs and Fornell was in a word - interesting. Tony was sitting at the top of the table with Neal Caffrey sitting to his side. If you didn’t know that Tony was a federal agent, then you would not think the scene out of place in a Godfather movie. They were neck deep in files and the old lawyer was cursing in Italian on the phone.
Tony looked up from his file and responded in Italian. “No, and the FBI are here so watch your mouth.”
Caffrey smirked so must have been able to follow what was being said. Gibbs spoke up, “Tony - How can we help?”
Tony looked at Fornell and it was obvious he was conflicted. He spoke, voice measured, almost as if he knew that what and how he said it would have far-reaching consequences. “You are lucky I like you, Tobias, because right now, I have a pretty solid hatred of your entire organisation.”
“What happened?” Fornell asked, wondering just what else could have gone wrong since he’d got on a plane.
Tony didn’t hold back, needing to get more than a few things off his chest. “Let’s see, someone tried to take Pops out at his own celebration. I phoned for back up using my full name and title but dispatch saw fit to pass it directly to the FBI. Well, they eventually sent help ... after Pops had lost a lot of blood. Edwards, who I am pretty sure is a crooked bastard or possibly the most naive person of the century had the nerve to ask if I really was an agent.”
Fornell winced as that was a set of events that would test even the most loyal person. He knew that anything less than honesty would get him thrown out. “I’d apologise but right now it would sound meaningless. How did you come to suspect Kramer of being crooked?”
Tony threw over the folder. “You tell me what that evidence looks like.”
Gibbs read it over his shoulder and would have winced but didn’t want to inflame the situation. He had a feeling that Tony right now was keeping a tight rein on his emotions so that he could lead the others. He could understand the importance of keeping his emotions in check. “Danny?”
Tony shook his head. “I reported him and walked away from the state. I can’t do that here, Gibbs. This is going to create a turf war.” Tony was definitely aware of the implications and his actions were trying to limit the consequences.
“You are still a Federal Agent.” Fornell warned, seeing some danger signs. There were few people that scared him but Tony was always the wild-card, the unpredictable one. It was why Gibbs kept him close, he was an extremely useful person to have on the team.
Tony stood up. “I know what I am,” he stepped into Fornell’s space. “It’s your agents that seem to have forgotten their motto.
Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity.
I’d say they’ve failed all three characteristics.”
Fornell didn’t have a comeback. Tony was right and it annoyed the hell out of him. “We need proof.” It was the least of what he would need to go after one of his own. He would do it, and Fornell would do it with a smile on his face. The only way he was going to be successful though was if he had lots of evidence to shove down any doubters throats. It wasn’t just in the movies that feds and cops closed ranks to protect their own.
Tony chuckled darkly. “We?” Yet another hint about his wavering loyalties.
Fornell gave him an unimpressed look. “This can end without blood if you let me do my job.”
Tony smiled sweetly. “I will leave their fates up to you. I have had as much distrust from the FBI as I can handle.”
“And if the family doesn’t like the response?” Fornell had to ask if only so he could guess and try and put the appropriate people in the loop.
Tony shrugged and with a smirk added. “Now why would we not like your pursuit of justice, Agent Fornell?”
Gibbs dragged Fornell out of the apartment, as for once, he decided to be the voice of reason. That and he could tell that if he didn’t take Tobias out of there - he might bite off more trouble than they could handle. He did issue an order to his second as left the apartment. “Tony, don’t do anything stupid and we’ll take the Feebs.”
Tony looked grateful. “Cheers, boss. We’ll still be here tomorrow or possibly at the hospital.”
Gibbs would bet any money that whilst they may be where they said, that not all of the lieutenants would be similarly accounted for.
Tony turned back to face the table and blinked at some of the looks being directed at him. “What? Like you believed that? I want a meeting with the Frangelino’s and I want it now. If they think they can take Pop’s territory whilst he is in the hospital they are wrong.”
The lieutenants all breathed a sigh of relief and Neal snickered. “I think they did.”
Tony shrugged. “Gibbs knows I was lying but he is trying to get me to stay at NCIS so as long as I don’t break the law ... he’ll back my play.”
Neal glared at his lover even as he quirked an amused lip as that was an interesting stress on the word - I. “You are taking back-up right?”
Tony rolled his eyes at the conflicting expression, wondering if this was what was going to count as a domestic. “Yes dear, and you and Vincent can find me all the dirt I need. If it is legal then pass it to Peter.”
Neal frowned. “Why Peter and not Fornell?”
“He’s a good man and it’ll upset Kramer more that his protege is still outperforming him even when it isn’t white collar crime.” Tony replied as if the vindictive side of the plan was simple and self-explanatory.
Neal’s smile was blinding as he was more than okay with that side of the plan. He had a lot of respect for Peter and knew the man got a lot of shit for working with Neal. “Oh, I like that.”
Vincent had been about to protest and then started to chuckle seeing Tony’s plan. “You mean to make the FBI do our dirty work?”
Tony smirked and it wasn’t an innocent little grin, it was full of mischief. “Oh come on, the Frangelino’s benefited from us taking out the competition ... I think it is only fair that the FBI do their best to protect our streets. Don’t you?”
He sounded so earnest that you would have believed him if not for the wicked smirk. In reality, Tony was presenting a narrative where doing the right thing appealed to his bloodthirsty family at large. Revenge was a specialty of the mafia - so now it had to become an art form, nuance was the key.
Vincent chuckled, now he understood what Tonio was thinking. He was clever and had a way about him, now he understood just why Salvatore insisted on keeping him as his heir. “You know I will offer them all the information so that even their most inept prosecutors will be able to do their job and send them away.”
Tony smirked. “I know you will do your job well, Vincent, and I still want that meeting.”
“You will have it.” He really wanted to be in that room, he had a feeling that Tonio would be something else. He would love to be able to tell Salvatore all about it.
Back in the car with Fornell and Gibbs, there was a very different conversation. “Will he come back to DC?”
It was funny, he didn’t need to say anymore and yet his old friend knew exactly what he was thinking as Gibbs shook his head. “No, no he will not.”
“How can you be so sure?” Fornell hoped it was just Gibbs’ natural pessimism.
Gibbs stared at him in disbelief. “There is one thing that man needs more than anything and he has finally accepted that the Mancuso’s will give it to him.”
“He doesn’t lack for money.”
Gibbs rolled his eyes as sometimes people missed the little details. “He doesn’t need it. His biological father disowned him at twelve and then tried to take his trust fund. That man has lacked family for so long and now that he has one he craves it more and more.”
“You would be a better father figure, more law-abiding at least.” Fornell tried to reason.
Gibbs snorted. “And yet, Salvatore flew him to New York, protected him from what he perceived as a betrayal.”
Fornell could see what he meant. “You believe your Tony will be a Mafia prince?”
Gibbs chuckled. “You never understood DiNozzo, although I suspect he won’t lay claim to the name for much longer.”
Fornell groaned. “Is this my doing?”
Gibbs shrugged because his job wasn’t to provide platitudes. “What’s done is done. Let’s make sure that this doesn’t end in bloodshed. Think about this. Tony won’t forget who he is ... he’ll just do things his way from now on.”
Tony was being driven to the prearranged meeting with the Frangelino’s - they were meeting under the old rules. Head to Head of the family and no weapons although they were allowed one bodyguard each . Tony smirked as the guard patted him and took his guns but missed the knife in his leather cuff as well as the one in his belt - amateur.
“Hello, Bernie.” Tony said with a smirk and it only grew with the glare. Tony knew the old man wouldn’t tolerate what he saw as disrespect. He should stick around because if he thought that was bad - it was only going to get worse.
“Young Tonio, should you not be with your father protecting him?” He finished, aiming to score at an emotional hit . “You know how fragile we are at our age.”
Tony probably did the thing he least suspected. He threw his head back and laughed. “Don’t worry about me and mine. I protected father and I will again,” he promised with a core of steel ringing through.
“You shot the shooter?” There was shock in his voice. What he’d heard suggested that he was too much of a boy scout to do anything.
Tony whirled around him knowing his unbalanced act was scaring the old man. Tony’s unhinged act meant that as he spoke ... “You mean your pet agent hasn’t reported back yet? Tut, tut. You would think having the agent in your pocket would yield better results.” The agent actually missed his brush pass that also saw him slip an electronic bug in his coat pocket.
“You have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Tony looked at him and shrugged him off like he was insignificant . “No, you see you made a mistake. I followed Pops and he ruled us all and now you let me off my leash.” He finished it with a wicked grin. It was the best part about dealing with criminals and crooks - they had the best imaginations and filled in the gaps you leave.
“What are you talking about?”
Bernado’s tone wasn’t so certain now, really, it was tragic. This man was supposed to lead a mob family but couldn’t control his emotions.
Tony snorted and really sold his act . “It’s practically common knowledge - the one time we had a falling out, Pops went to jail.”
“Yes - the mafia prince and the federal agent. Surely you can’t be both?”
Tony smirk grew. “You know what? It’s funny but I was all too happy to stay at NCIS but your stunt is what has persuaded me to stay. After all, I would hate for you to profit from your villainous act. New York is not for the taking no matter what you think.”
Tony had said his piece and left to finish putting his plan into place. He’d baited the trap - and now all he needed was the Frangelino’s to overreact and he could take them out.
Frangelino called out. “What are you going to do?”
Tony turned back around. “You know what? I haven’t decided yet but I can guarantee it will be fun.” Turning to his bodyguard, “Let’s go to the hospital.”
Kramer was sitting down in the cafeteria when Peter and his pet, Caffrey, sat opposite him. “Hey Phil, we need to talk.”
Kramer smirked. “I don’t consort with criminals - I arrest them.”
Peter looked so disappointed in him and Caffrey looked gleeful. A file slapped down in front of him. “What’s this?”
Caffrey was the one to speak about it. “You mean you didn’t hear about the Mancuso shooting?”
Kramer shrugged and played it cool. He knew better than to give away any guilt, he’d played that trick on too many criminals himself . “A mafia king got what was coming to him. My understanding was we got the shooter.”
Peter cocked his head to the side. Then actually disabused him of his assumptions. “No, we didn’t. An NCIS Agent did. You know it’s a strange case, that. I would’ve never believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own two eyes.”
Neal shrugged. “What can I say? They love him and Tony has accepted that he loves them right back.”
“Who?” Kramer spat out.
“Why, Agent Anthony DiNozzo of course. He was the one to take out the shooter. No, come back as well especially considering the bureau is embarrassed as back up was so slow. He’s demanded an investigation. Turns out he has some pull as Fornell is down from Washington.”
Kramer froze as he hadn’t expected that - why would anyone care what happened to some low-life criminals. “Why would DiNozzo care about Salvatore Mancuso?”
Neal smirked. “He is quite charming and Tony has called him pops or father without irony for about two months.”
Kramer had lost all his appetite. “Excuse me, I have lost my appetite.”
He tried to stand up but was met by two new arrivals. Neal felt like he should introduce them. “These are Agents Fornell and Gibbs. I think they have a few questions for you.”
“You will never prove a thing.” Kramer spat out.
Burke shook his head. “Your arrogance will be your undoing. I’ve seen the evidence, Phil, and I am ashamed to know you.” He’d wanted to look his mentor in the face. He’d hoped to catch a clue, find a reason, an explanation. Something. There was nothing there - just twisted hatred.
Neal waited until he saw Kramer led away. “Can I go to the hospital? I want to check up on Tony. I’m worried about him.”
Peter nodded. “Go, I’ll clear it with the marshalls.”
Peter hadn’t told Neal the other part of Kramer’s plan. He needed to speak to someone high up and he wanted to do it sooner rather than later. Kramer had planned to hijack the custody agreement with Neal, making it longer and having Kramer be his boss. Peter disliked the idea immensely. Yes, Neal had broken the law and been sentenced but he refused to let a jackass like Kramer send Neal back to life on the run. There was also the part where Peter knew this time he wouldn’t be able to catch Neal.
Diana ran to Peter which was rare. “What is it?”
Diana was smirking. “I have a recording of Bernardo Frangelino ordering a hit on Tony DiNozzo and any other stinking Mancuso they can find.
His words, not mine... The
bounty ordered was twenty thousand dollars unless of course you’re DiNozzo and then he was a hundred. He must have really scared the man.”
“Rumour is he’s not scared of much.”
Diana shrugged because she had tangible evidence to arrest the bastard and that was enough for her. Frangelino had been responsible for her first partner dying on the job. She would only be too happy to read the nasty bastard his rights.
Tony had gone straight from his meeting back to the hospital. He knew the people guarding his adoptive parents were loyal but he just had to see them in person. His mother was slumped over his father’s bed.
Tony asked the two guards. “Anything I need to know about?”
The guard shook his head. “Not a peep.”
“Good.” Tony pushed the door forward so that he could step inside. “Hey, Ma. I’ve been busy but the threats right now are reasonably eliminated.”
“Who was it?” Alona asked him. She stood to hug him, relieved to see that he was still unscathed. She trusted his abilities but enemies had already hit out at one person she cared for that day.
Tony answered honestly. “Two FBI agents with more greed than sense plus the Frangelino’s.”
She sneered. Bernardo Frangelino had made a clumsy pass at her, oh so many years ago. She’d declined his invitation by breaking his fingers. The reason she’d been so impressed with Salvatore was he’d witnessed the event and asked her if he could step in. He didn’t want to presume he should be her knight in shining armour if she wanted to rescue herself.
As she looked at him right now, all she wanted was to rescue him. “Bernardo was a bastard forty years ago and he has only worsened in his old age.”
Tony smirked because the old guy had gotten stupider in his old age too . “I paid him a visit and straight afterward he put a hit out on me. Too bad I’d put a bug on his coat. The whole thing got recorded and delivered straight to the FBI - I believe they’re on their way right now.”
She chuckled as that was quite efficient. She liked the fact her son was using the agency who’d done so much damage to them the night before to actually clean up their own mess. It had a certain amount of poetic justice. “Come sit with me. We will wait for your father to wake up from his beauty sleep together. I’d be grateful for the company.”
Tony joined her on the spacious couch that was masquerading as a hospital chair. “No place I’d rather be than right here.”
And Tony wasn’t lying. The only difference was he’d like Neal to be with him. And the door opened and Tony smiled. He had everyone he cared about right here in this room.
DiNozzo Senior was reading a news report. It was weird, it had been slipped under his door in an open unmarked envelope. There was no letter but rather a paper clipping from a New York Newspaper but it was the photo that caught his attention.
The photo was of someone he’d always recognise - Junior. His good for nothing son. Although, he’d clearly found some money as he was wearing Armani. It was better than Senior’s own suit right now. How had he managed it?
His hand dropped the article in shock. The Mancuso heir marries his lover the minute the law changes.
Confusion reigned as Tony had married Neal Caffrey so where did the Mancuso’s come into this? He knew the name, being a businessman with grey areas of ethics it paid to know who to cross and who to avoid.
Antonio Mancuso has taken New York by storm and in particular the business world. He previously worked for the government until a vicious attack on his adoptive father saw him take the reins of their family companies whilst Salvatore Mancuso recovered from his injuries. He was an unknown ace in the hole, doubling the family's money in two years.
Senior’s mind raced, he could cause trouble and be paid to go away. All thoughts like that came crashing down when he read the note attached to the paper clipping.
We thank you for the gift of a son you carelessly tossed away. Know this, we will care for him in all the ways you should have - should you attempt to cause him or my son-in-law any pain, well, I will accept the heart right out of your chest as payment for all the ways you’ve harmed Tonio.
It was a typed note, no way for it to be traced and not even signed but it didn’t need to be. Senior wasn’t a stupid man, he’d understood the message loud and clear. There was no reason to head to New York now and he just had to hope that they never crossed paths anywhere else.