Title: Fate and Joy; Redux
Prompt: Anthony DiNozzo, Jr (yes, again, shut up)
Fandom: NCIS/Criminal Minds
Characters: Tony DiNozzo, David Rossi, Joy Struthers, Aaron Hotchner, Penelope Garcia, Kai
Genre: Romance, Feels, Family
Word Count: 1628
Warning: Feels. All the feels
Author’s Note: Yes, I am aware that Hayden Montgomery is alive in season 11. Yes, I did kill her. #authorregretsnothing.
Summary: “Sweetheart — just how do you think I’d react to a reporter following me around? Now multiply that level of paranoia by the twenty extra years in law enforcement the David Rossi has over me. Not only won’t you get the answer you’re looking for, you’ll only get hurt. And so will he.”
Tony hadn’t known his mother-in-law for long before she’d passed — in fact, she hadn’t been his mother-in-law at all. But he’d had a lot of respect for what she’d accomplished in her life, and raising the woman he married was the least of it. So he knew, absolutely, that she’d had her reasons for not telling Joy the truth about her father, and for not telling David Rossi about his daugher.
He just really wished the woman was alive so he could ask her.
“I’ve been doing research,” Joy flipped through a stack of printouts. “I knew his name as a writer, but his career seems pretty impressive.”
“Modern law enforcement wouldn’t be what it is — for better or for worse — without Rossi and his colleagues.”
“He lives in Virginia — why did he go back to the FBI?” she murmured. “Between writing and the lecture tours, not to mention the money involved. . .”
“Rossi’s an agent to his bones, Joy. Some things you don’t let go of.”
She turned and stared at him. “You know him.”
“I’ve read his books —”
“No, you know him! I can hear it in your voice! Tony, why didn’t you tell me? All this time —”
“You mean the two weeks where, if you weren’t crying over Michael or making funeral arrangement or taking care of Kai or obsessively researching?” Tony asked gently.
Joy’s lip trembled and tears spilled over; Tony drew his wife close and rocked her as she wept, again, for the man who had raised her and the secret he’d revealed in the last days of his life.
“I don’t understand! Why didn’t she — why would he — Why didn’t they tell me? And they’re both gone and I’ll never know the answer — and they’re —”
An hour later, Joy slept off her grief-fueled crying jag — and it wasn’t fair that she’d lost two parents in less than five years, and yes, the world wasn’t fair but really? — Tony gathered her papers and went through them.
God, she was such a reporter.
When she woke, Tony handed her a glass of water and two painkillers — crying gave her a headache which was just one of the reasons she hated doing it — and offered her the first book David Rossi had written.
“Insight. Promise me something, sweetheart? Don’t do anymore research —”
“ — until you finish that. And don’t, for the love of god, follow him around, trying to get a ‘feel’ for him, or working up to talking to him.”
“I have to tell him.”
“Yes, but — and it’s a big one — take a moment at think about how I’d react to having a strange woman follow me around carrying file folders and a dossier of me.”
She grinned; the first he’d seen in weeks. “You’d flirt with me.”
“This is true,” he conceded, “but only after a serious bout of paranoia and a detailed background check. Now, take my reaction and times it by about twenty years — because that’s how much longer Rossi’s been on the job than me.”
She frowned and huffed. “I don’t think he’d be as bad as you are.”
“Oh, he’s so much worse. I spent the first part of my career chasing run of the mill criminals. His cases? Make mine look like juvie records.” He settled beside her, letting her curl against him. “You want to investigate; to dig the story out of a few facts. But Rossi is a cop — and so am I. And that’s not how we work.”
“How would you do it?”
“I’d build a case.”
Joy turned over the book; David Rossi, eighteen years younger, stared up at them, just as Tony remembered him.
“Tony,” she murmured, running a thumb over the image, “Would you . . . ?”
“You are supposed to inform me of outside consults, my Senior Sleuth! Especially when said consults are delicious.”
“Don’t call me old, Garcia, and I don’t have anything scheduled.”
“Really? Because there’s a federal agent from NCIS asking for you.”
Dave looked up from his paperwork. “NCIS? Those cowboys never ask for FBI help — though, to be fair, the smaller agencies rarely do. They give a name?”
The colourful technical analyst nodded. “Indeed, the vision of delight is one Anthony DiNozzo —”
“Sonofabitch,” Dave rose and went to the door. There, in the bullpen, was the same smartassed, streetwise cop he’d met more than fifteen years ago. Older, wiser, and still too damned good looking. “Look what Philadelphia spat out on the FBI’s doorstep.”
“By way of Baltimore and DC,” the kid chuckled. “But I’m going to need an allergy pill soon; I think I’m getting hives from all the terrible suits and rule books.”
“Still a smartass — you are a fed.”
“But not with a capital F, B, and I — for these small mercies we are thankful.” Tony chuckled and took the stairs to the offices. “And then there’s you, old man — get tired of sleeping in, the lack of midnight call outs, and not having to spend half your life on stakeouts and the other half on bureaucracy?”
Dave clasped him in firm hug. “The good life is overrated.”
“Only by people who have it.”
“You look good, kid.”
“So do you — for an old man.”
“I can still kick your ass.”
“Please, I spent years in the Leroy Jethro Gibbs school of I’ll-kick-you-ass-till-you-get-it-right. You got nothing on that hard-assed Marine.”
“Gibbs? Christ, kid, you’d have been better in boot camp.”
“I’ll just — leave you g-men to it,” Garcia murmured as she closed the door.
“So, as pleasant as this walk down memory lane is — I doubt it’s why you came.” Dave nodded to the manilla envelope. “That a case?”
“Something like that. I’d like you to look it over. And Rossi? Read the whole thing before you react.”
“That’s the definition of investigating, kid.”
He got a soft smile, very different from his flashy movie-star smile. “Yeah, it is. Thanks, Rossi.”
“We could have lunch?”
“We will — call me when you’ve finished that. I’ll make time.”
“Must be important.”
“Garcia says that your consult was an old friend who only stayed a few minutes. You’ve been in here all day, Dave.” He looked up from the file on his desk, and Aaron frowned. “What’s wrong?”
“Read this — all of it.”
He retrieved the bottle of scotch he kept in his office and poured a glass, then watched as Aaron went through the papers he’d already memorized; replaying them in his mind.
A birth certificate for Joy Amelie Montgomery; mother Hayden Montgomery, father unknown. A marriage certificate, adoption and name change documents.
A notarized statement detailing the revelations of one Michael Struthers about his relationship with his stepdaughter, and her birth father; notes detailing the lack of proof but that, as a deathbed utterance, it had legal value.
Tests from a private lab, confirming that Joy Struthers was not the biological daughter of Michael Struthers. Documents detailing the arrangements available to test a new sample against the results, as well as a second sample available for independent confirmation in a reputable lab.
Pictures of a little girl, cheek pressed to Hayden’s darker one, grinning at the camera. A teen, wrapped around her mother’s shoulders. A young woman in a graduate’s gown, kissing her proud mother.
Two death certificates, separated by only a handful of years
Another marriage certificate, this one for Joy Struthers and Anthony DiNozzo. A wedding photo taken in Hawaii. A birth certificate for Kai Dominic DiNozzo, age two years eight months. And more photos; a newborn in his mother’s arms, a toddler taking his first steps. Mother and son, cheeks pressed together and beaming at the camera, likely held by the father.
Aaron sighed. “Dave —”
“Spit it out.”
“It looks legitimate. Most things can be faked, and a federal agent would know how but — why? And the offer of DNA testing? It’s convincing.”
“What was she thinking, Aaron? Damnit!” He rose to pace. “She had reasons — Hayden always had reasons — but I wish to god — I can’t even ask her!”
“I imagine that’s a lot like what Ms Struthers feels.”
He laughed bitterly. “Christ — kid can’t catch a break, can she?”
“I don’t know, Dave,” Aaron said mildly. “It seems like she’s caught a couple — her husband, and her father.”
Dave lifted his glass, paused, and set it down. Walked back to the desk and retrieved the last item in the file.
A card containing work, cell, and home numbers along with an email. And a home address.
“I guess so.”
The brownstone door swung open. “Hey, old man.”
“I’m not old, I’m well-seasoned.”
Tony grinned. “Keep telling yourself that.”
Dave glanced down at the small child half hidden behind DiNozzo’s legs. “Hello, little man.”
“Gonna come out and say hello, Kai?”
A head full of dark curls appeared; a small hand waved shyly, then tugged on a pant leg. “Papa, up.”
“So bossy — you get that from your mother.”
“I heard that! Who’s at the door?”
“It’s for you, sweetheart.”
“What? Who —?” A beautiful woman with mid-toned skin — neither black nor white — and a light dusting of freckles appeared on the stair case. She was more drawn than in the photos Dave carried in his hand; tired and grieving but still lovely. The tremulous smile she wore was Hayden’s.
“Come on, little man,” Tony told his son. “Let’s make dinner and leave your mama to talk, huh?”
“Want sketti, papa.”
“That’s my boy.”