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Chapter 2

–Damn it? What did he do?” Tony rushed to the window, but didn’t see anything that looked out of order. –We can’t cut him out like that, Jet. We need to keep him safe, and it’s apparent that he can’t do it himself. We let him go, no matter how pissed we are, he’s going to do something stupid if he hasn’t already.”

Jethro thundered down the stairs, hearing Tony but not having the breath to answer. God…he hadn’t, had he? But it was entirely possible. Toby had just given up his career and pension, because of a stupid moment that had been monitored.

Tony half ran, half stumbled down the stairs behind him and Jethro turned. –You stay here. If it’s bad…” And it would be. Headshot. Toby knew how to kill.

Jethro’s feet must have touched the stairs but he didn’t actually feel the ground. The doors to Toby’s car were closed, but there was no blood, even though Toby was slumped over the steering wheel.

Jethro yanked the door open. –Toby….why?”

Toby was so upset that he hadn’t even realized that Jethro and Tony were outside. –We already established that I wasn’t thinking. Why…”

Tony came running up behind Jet, pushing into the car between the door and where the other man stood. Checking for a pulse, he was relieved to find it was strong under his fingers. –He’s alive, which is more than I can say for him in an hour, because I might just kill him.” His lover was crying, which was understandable, Tony feel like crying right now too. But he wasn’t the one who had tried to kill himself. –What the hell were you thinking? Or were you not thinking again!”

Toby’s eyes widened at Jethro’s expression. –What? You didn’t think I…did you?” Toby tried to chuckle but he’d never seen Jethro so upset before. –Your tires. I didn’t want you following me to give me a second helping.”

Jethro stumbled away, bending over and throwing up before grabbing Toby by the jacket and throwing him against the car. –I thought you’d done it. You thought about it, didn’t you. Fuck you, Toby. I’m done. Tony needs us and you’re making this about you. You were always too damn good for them but you wouldn’t lower yourself to come work with us. NCIS was never good enough for the son of Jefferson and Elizabeth Fornell, what are you eighth generation fucking New England blue bloods?”

He was worked up now and wasn’t interested in stopping. –Money never equaled brains. Look at who you married. And Emily. You bastard, If you’d eaten your gun, how would Em have survived? How would Tony have managed? He loves that little girl as if she was his own daughter and he’s the only one of us who doesn’t have any legal standing with her. You fix that today, Fornell. With Diane and legally or I will hunt you down and fucking kill you.”

–That’s great, get upset because you think he’s dead, then threaten to kill him. Only in my life does that seem normal.” Tony rolled his eyes, he knew that Jet was still pissed, but this was almost impossible to pull off after thinking Toby was dead. But Jet had impossible down pat.

–You judging me, Tony? I can’t deal with him right now. I’m too angry. You know where this’ll lead if I’m near him right now.” And sometime Toby liked to be punished, but Jet was beyond punishment and into full-on pain right now. And while he’d do that for fun, he wouldn’t use it as punishment.

He looked at Toby . –You want that. You want me to put you through what you just put us though. I can do it, Toby. And I’d enjoy it. Way too much. Thing about guys like me, DiNozzo, I don’t want to know. I just want him to fix his bullshit, for you and for Em.”

–And I’m upset because of what you were put through. I don’t like seeing ether of you in pain.” And Jethro had, today, now.

He turned to Tony, still in a blind fury. –You have to deal with him right now. I can’t even look at him. I’m going downstairs. Stay, go. But DiNozzo, get a pizza ordered or something and get back in, okay?” He strode inside and down to the basement, needing the feel of wood under his hands. They were all fucked, and he didn’t think Tony realized how bad it was.

–Yeah, let me talk to him. I still stand by what I said before he scared the hell out of us.” Waiting until Gibbs stormed off, Tony took a deep breath. –You’re staying. They’re coming after all of us, and I don’t want one of us out where they can get us. We’ll be harder to take down if we stand together.”

Maybe Tony didn’t quite remember what had happened that night, but the pictures were in the folder. Toby on his hands and knees, collared. Jethro himself leashed. They’d been screwing around, drinking, had been to a BDSM club. But it looked like DiNozzo had completely Mastered them, and that was why they had gone after him first. They’d never understand it was just a game. Not with the pictures they had. And those were only the beginning.

Toby just looked at Tony. –I don’t want you or him to be obligated, And I don’t want you to risk your relationship with him.” He wanted to touch Tony so badly right now, to reassure him, but he couldn’t. He tried to smirk, tried for a little bit of fire. –Should I sleep with the boat?”

Toby’s soul hurt right now. –I could leave him, as much as I love him. But you? You’re a different story. Always have been.” They’d both fallen deeply in love with Tony so deeply that it scared Toby. They’d tried a threesome relationship with Diane, and that was a disaster. But Tony had given them a second wind.

–I’m taking Em’s room for now, you can find a place of your own, although I’m willing to bet that Jet will be sleeping his girl for a few days. I’ll check with him, see if you can bed down in our room. Just don’t leave us. I’m mad…will be for a while, but I don’t want you out on your own, wondering if they’ve removed what ever problem they think you are. Maybe you can call Diane, have her take Emily out of town. One less piece of collateral damage we have to worry about while this all goes down.”

Toby closed his eyes. –You keep the bedroom, Anthony. I’d like to stay in Emily’s room, if there aren’t any objections.” Diane would gladly take Em away, Toby knew that, and she knew all the dirty secrets. She’d lived some of them.

–Check on him, and I’ll coordinate with Diane. Tony…thanks. For mediating…”

Tony looked at his side pointedly and Toby unloaded and handed over his weapon, closing his eyes.

–It was your room well before I ever came along. I’ve slept on the trundle in Em’s room a number of times, when both you and Jet were working and she was scared or had a nightmare. She won’t care, and when she comes back, she and I can make it a slumber party.”

Tony had never wanted kids of his own until he’d met Emily Fornell, and she’d totally changed his view on little people in general. He could almost see himself being a dad, someday down the road. –Tell Em I love her when you talk to her. I was a bit distracted when we took her home, and I don’t want her to think I’m mad at her. It’s never about her, except I was afraid of losing her. We were both mad, I still am. But I don’t want you out there alone, especially after this stunt. Too close to really losing you for my own comfort level.”

Tobias cleared the emotion away. –She loves you, Tony. You mean the world to her, to all of us. When you’re calmer, you call. I’ll let Diane know that she’s to be allowed to speak to you for as long as she likes. She’s closest to you out of all of us.”

–Your ex-wife thinks I’m a manny, Diane isn’t going to let me just call up and chat when ever I want too. I’m the hired help, remember?” The former Mrs. Gibbs and Mrs. Fornell had been fine with the fact that her two ex-husbands were a couple, enough to give them primary custody of Emily. But adding a new member into the mix could be enough to push her to adjust the custody agreement. Tony couldn’t be the reason why that happened. –Today, you tell her that I’m not mad, just scared. I’ll talk to her when she gets home. I don’t think I can handle any more crazy emotions, and you know I’ll be in big trouble if our girl gets on the phone with me and starts asking questions I’m not ready to answer yet.”

–She will if I say she does, Tony. I’ll respect your wishes for now, but Emily needs her Batman.”

–Don’t do anything to fuck up your custody arrangement Toby. You two need Em as much as she needs you. I don’t want Diane to take you to court because of me.” He didn’t know what had gone down for the guys to get that kind of custody, but he wouldn’t screw it up. –I’m fine with being the manny, as long as you understand I can’t just call up and chat.”

–Diane won’t, Tony. She gets a good living from us, and she knows Em is happy with us. Don’t worry too much.”

–You’re calling your ex-wife to tell her that you brought another man into your relationship with her other ex-husband.” Tony didn’t know how Toby could be so calm about it all. He was a wreck and he wouldn’t even have to talk to Diane. –Excuse me if I’m a little nervous about how she’s going to react, and if she might take Emily away from us. Happy or not, Diane could be a real bitch about this.”

Toby walked slowly to the front yard, dialing Diane. Maybe it was time she was told how close they were to Tony and how Batman wasn’t a male nanny.

Diane snapped her phone open, amazed to see her ex-husband’s name on her caller ID so soon after the last call she had made. –You realize, if you had called me this much when we were married, we might have been able to save our marriage. It was one of the things I hated about being involved with federal agents, the lack of communication was appalling.”

–Di, it has been a really bad day, so I’d appreciate it if we can both be civilized. You need to take Emily on a vacation, someplace off the beaten path. Use the cards and ID in the safe. Take along a prepaid cell. But get going ASAP. Someone is gunning for your two ex-husbands and Tony.” He paused.

–Di, Tony is a part of us, just like you were back then. Em and he are very close, in a goofy big brother way.”

–It wasn’t me being uncivilized Toby, just honest. Isn’t that what you always said you wanted?” It didn’t surprise Diane that her ex husbands had found another person to add to their relationship. It’s how they had all started out, but in the end she hadn’t been able to be the third in an established relationship. When she got pregnant, she’d made them choose and she’d ended up divorced not once, but twice in the end.

–Should I send along some sort of triad present? I’m not sure what an appropriate gift is for that. Maybe matching cock rings, or family-size industrial leather restraints? I’m happy for you two if it’s what you both want. If Em tells me the same story when we talk, while she’s with me, your new toy can see her whenever they want. Once we get back that is. I’ll call the office and tell them I’ll be out of contact for a while. You know how to contact me to let me know it’s safe to come home.”

–Diane, we had something really special once and out of respect for that I’m asking you to please not do this. Not right now, not today, not when things are so stressed and tense. I don’t want to be goaded, neither would you in my shoes. The FBI forced my hand, Diane. I’m retired, they get my pension. Jethro will cover for me until I get something else.”

–What the hell happened, Tobias? You’re normally so careful, you and Jethro have been together for how long and no one knows? All of a sudden, the FBI is onto you? Doesn’t make sense.” Diane watched her daughter playing tea party with her bears in the living room, oblivious to what was going on around her. –If I find out that Emily has seen anything, I can promise you, you and the rest of your merry men won’t see her again. If you have managed to spare her what ever drama you’re in the middle of, we’ll continue on with our arrangement as it stands. I don’t want to take her away from you, you and Jethro love her dearly, but I will if I have to.”

–Emily has never seen anything inappropriate, Diane. You know me and you know Jethro. There was an investigation, we were set up. I’d rather not go into it now but I will at a later date. I promise you that, Diane. We’ve always respected one another and you know that Jethro and I have always had Emily’s best interests at heart.”

This could not be happening. She could not be threatening to take their little girl away.

–That’s why you want us gone isn’t it? Shit’s about to hit the fan right?” Diane tried to curb the sarcasm, she had loved both Tobias and Jethro once upon a time, when she thought that she could handle the threesome thing. –I’m sorry, shouldn’t have said what I said Tobias. I know you two would do everything possible to protect Em, and that’s why you’re getting us both out of town. I’ll make sure she’s okay, and she’s going to hate being away from you and Jethro. You know she hates when she can’t stay with you.”

–I suspect as much, Diane. Neither Jethro nor I can allow any threat to continue unimpeded. It is one of the risks of our careers, Diane, and not our lifestyle. And I understand your frustration, Di. We’re dealing with a situation we will have under control very shortly. As soon as that is done, we owe you a spa weekend. I know you never anticipated or expected this, Di, neither did we. But interagency rivalries have cropped up and must be dealt with. It will all be okay, Diane. I promise.”

–I’ll take you up on the spa getaway. Even before needing to escape to make sure we’re not in a turf war, I could have used it. And for the record Toby, they can’t take your pension. You’ve got an ex-wife who gets half of it.” Diane knew she could keep the FBI tied up in red tape for years, and would if they boys couldn’t fix this problem. –Always remember, when in doubt of losing your money, call an ex-wife. We’ll always have a way to make sure our investment is safe. You can’t sign away something that isn’t yours, Tobias. Remember that next time you’re trying to send me to the poorhouse in my elderly years.”

–Your half you get, Di. Direct deposit, I believe. Mine is gone. You’re okay, honey. I would never allow my career and choices to determine your fate and lifestyle, or Emily’s.” Toby was incredibly touched by the way Di was trying to rally him. –I have investments, I’ll sell my house and find another smaller place, and I’ll be okay. Maybe consult or get a part-time job down the road to keep busy. It isn’t the money as much as the career.” And reputation.

–Don’t let them do it to you, Tobias. Fight them, and with Em out of town, it’ll be easier for you. Take out the bastard who is doing this to you.” It wasn’t about the money, she made plenty of it, didn’t even need the money that she was granted in her various divorces. –If you sell the house, I expect you to actually move in with Jethro and put the man out of his misery. You’ve hidden long enough, and if you had come out before now, you might not be in this situation. I’m not judging, just stating”

–Di…” Toby swallowed tears. –I think its over between us. I had to do some unforgivable things to our thirdâ€"Tony. Jethro broke it off. I don’t know if he’ll take me back. I rather doubt it. He’s protective of Tonyâ€"as am Iâ€"and I had to hurt him so much today. Accusing him of murder. Taking a bond he had with another and twisting the knife in. For the sake of their careers and mine, I thought at the time. It is very complicated and I just don’t know what will happen. But I’ll stay in touch, you call the contact number, which is Batman’sâ€"Em will explain. Thanks, Di. We may not have made it but…I think we do a pretty good job parenting our girl.”

–You know how Jethro is. He needs time to brood and grouse about it, but he’ll realize what you did and why you did it. Don’t you give up on him, trying to be all noble. I know how you work Tobias. Make the grand sacrifice then slink off because you don’t feel like you deserve any happiness. Emily needs her dad and her papa, and apparently her Batman, which is slightly disturbing.” She was probably old enough to be the boy’s older sister at the very least, and picturing him in spandex and vinyl wasn’t going lead her anywhere good. –So I expect you to make this work.”

–I’m trying, sweetheart. I’m trying so hard. Ten years, Di, and we’re just as invested with Tony. Thank you. And for the record, she calls Tony –Batman” all on her own. Not our idea. And do you think Jethro would willingly term himself Superman? That is all our little girl’s mind at work.”

–Probably the only person in the world to get away with that.” Diane wouldn’t go down the road of reasons why Jethro had more than earned the nickname, she’d long ago given up trying to turn one ex against the other. –Tell him that I said he had to stop being himself and to feel something for once. Do you want me to call him and tell him myself? Seriously, you’d think after all this time you two could figure things out faster.”

–Would you? It couldn’t hurt, Di. It might help. He’s never been one who was able to share being the hero. Maybe that is the problem.” But Toby knew it was protectiveness, from Jethro’s perspective he had tossed away their family, even if it was his nobility that was the cause of their problem.

–I wouldn’t have offered if I didn’t mean it, Tobias. What better way to top off a day than to get a call from your ex-wife. We’re on good enough terms, it wouldn’t be exactly out of the ordinary for me to call.” When her second divorce was finished, she’d sworn she wouldn’t ever get involved in Jethro and Tobias’ relationship again. Too much trouble to be caused doing that, and she didn’t want to be the one blamed for breaking them up. But this was for her daughter, not for the two men who had been such an interregnal part of her life. –Let me get Em packed, I’ll call from the airport. He has to listen to me. Just don’t tell him I’m calling. I don’t want to tip him off and have him not take my call at all.”

–Okay, Diane, We’ll be in touch then. Take care of yourself and Em.” He wouldn’t say he loved her, though there was easy and genuine affection there. And gratitude right now. He disconnected the phone, sitting on the top step, thankful that DiNozzo and Gibbs hadn’t seen their flats yet, though they knew

Jethro looked up as a shoe scuffed at the top of the basement stairs. –Come on down, Tony. You know you’re welcomed here.”

–I know that, just wanted to give you enough time to know I was coming down. I didn’t want to get shot for not clearly announcing myself.” Tony came down the stairs, sitting on the bottom one where he was able to see Jet clearly. –Pizza’s ordered, will be here in a half hour or so. Toby’s staying, where should I put him? He offered to take the basement, but I wasn’t sure if you were planning on being down here or not. I suggested he take the room, but that I’d check with you first.”

Jethro looked at Tony, running all the possibilities through in his mind, hands working the wood. –The bedroom is our bedroom. All of us, Even if I’m furious, we all stay there. No Emily’s room. No basement. If we do that there’ll be no hope.”

–Wouldn’t ask that of you, I know you’d do anything for me but that’s too much. Toby knows he screwed up, not getting word to us. He’s talking to Diane, pretty sure that’s decent punishment in its own right. But nether of us is going to push. I need to know what the hell was in that packet though. If it was enough for Tobias to give up everything, it can’t mean good things for our future.”

–Remember when we had that really wild week? You, me, Toby, in Toronto. Leashes, licking your boots, the rest? Only we knew it was a game, a joke, a bet. They threatened to expose that, but that was only the beginning. When Toby and I were with Diane we did some stupid bondage games too, including her with a strap on. They have all that in the file. What else is in there is fabricated, but it’ll bury us.”

Tony sighed, running a hand through his hair.–If I had even remotely thought they’d find us, I never would have agreed to play that way. We all knew it was a scene, obviously they either don’t know or don’t care.” Whoever wanted to bring them down obviously had been doing their homework. If they had pictures of the guys with Diane, this was obviously a long term issue. –Who hates you and Toby enough to do this Jet? And what can we do to make sure that they pay for it?”

Jethro gave Tony a long look. –Leon Vance. I’m sure it is him. He suspected, came on to me, I wasn’t interested, let him down easy. Not easily enough. He’s the only one who could know, Tony. Beside Diane. And Diane wouldn’t shit in her own nest. And who shows up today like the fucking cavalry. Leon Vance.”

–What are we going to do about it then? Can we take him out? After what he did to me, I’d be happy to pull the trigger. We sweet talk Abby, offer to let her watch one night and she’ll make sure none of us are caught.” Tony had never heard the name of the man who came in and removed Jenny today. That was the last time he was caught unawares. He’d find out every last speck of dirt out there on the man, and bring him down. –We might want to bring her in anyway. Don’t know anyone besides McGeek better on a computer. I’d say bring Timmy in, but he might be shocked at what he sees. Abby will take it in stride.”

–We will take him out, Tony, it just has to be a matter of how. I don’t know that we can rely on Jen.” He drew in a couple of deep breaths. –Call Abby and McGee, Tony. We’re going to pull them in now. I’m going to calm the hell down and then figure out Jen’s involvement. I think she’s clean, but she should be kept out anyway. They all have way too much on her and the Frog and that makes her a weak link. We’ll save Ziva for the moment.”

He gave Tony a gentle smile. –Guess we’re outing ourselves to everyone who matters. You okay with that?”
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