A Princess Born
Tony looked up from his desk at NCIS, seeing a familiar body coming off the elevator. It made him groan and grab his head as the flashback started. He hated seeing him.
Detective Tony DiNozzo looked up from his typing, grimacing when he smelled a familiar scent. "My mother's here?" he muttered, hurrying up so he could drag her off before she could start a scene. She was a great scene starter and a bigger drama queen than most drag queens. He did not need that here in Philly. He liked this job. He finished his report and handed it to his boss as he walked past. "Smelled my mother, Cap?" he asked quietly.
"She's in my office, DiNozzo. You should be too."
"Thanks for limiting her damage." He got up and went in there, looking at the man standing behind her. "What's up, mother?"
"Tony, darling," she said with a bright smile. She turned to the other man. "This is my son Anthony. My only child."
"Then he's our princess?" he said grimly.
Tony blinked at him. "Excuse me?" he asked, shaking his head. "I'm a what?"
"Your mother is a cousin to our Queen. The last living relative as it stands." Tony gaped. "We've known about her and made sure she was prepared for her role but her husband was a bit...unreceptive to us helping her."
"Your father said they pestered me and made me do odd things, dear. So he made them stay away under penalty of divorce and that's against the law there so I couldn't sit on the throne in case of emergency." She patted him on the cheek. "They knew about you the minute after I did. Even before your father did."
"Our people thought you were a female so your title is upheld, Princess."
"I'm clearly not a princess," Tony said grimly, sitting down for this one.
"Yes but everything is still set up so you are officially a princess at the moment," he admitted. "We'll get that changed soon."
"Why come now?" Tony asked. "If something's happened to the Queen, you can have my mother. I'm sure my father would enjoy living the high life."
"Probably not. Our country has a strict code of ethics and he's already broken about half of our banking laws," the other man said. "Which is why we cannot name your mother. You are old enough to be tutored and introduced. We have done a good background check on you and find you suitable. That's why I'm here."
"I'm still not a princess."
"No, clearly you're not," he agreed dryly, staring him down.
"Oh, poo, Raphael. Don't pick on poor Anthony. He's such a sensitive boy."
"Mother!" Tony complained.
"You are, dear."
"Mother, I'm not. Father decided I was because I didn't want to watch him shoot his hunting dog when she got pregnant without his consent." He stood up again. "I'll have to decline your generous offer but there's scum sucking maggots I have to go arrest before they hurt other normal people." He reached for the doorknob.
Raphael grabbed his hand. "Should you not, there is no one sitting in heir and the country is going to be in danger. There is no one to take over if you don't."
"No distant bastard children?"
"Ethical codes forbid it. You can play while you're single but doing so while you're married is an offense and would have gotten most of your past relatives stoned. It's only in this last decade that the idea of remarrying after a spouse's death has become popular."
Tony blinked at him. "Why me again? I thought I had cousins."
"On your father's side, dear," his mother reminded him. "Not on mine." She straightened out his shirt and picked off some imaginary lint. "There, now you look better. Much closer to a princess." She beamed and walked off. "I'm sure you'll do *fine* learning, Anthony. Even I managed to learn what was needed in case something happens." She waved over her shoulder before exiting the room.
Tony looked at Raphael. "I'll never be the queen she is," he joked lamely.
"Thankfully. We were desperate with your mother. That's what warped her I'm afraid." He smiled. "Now, when can we have a good, long talk with you? That should suffice for a few days then we'll work on getting you a tutor for the things you'll need."
"I grew up among the rich and monied," Tony reminded him. That got a beaming smile. "And I don't have time off for at least another three weeks. I've got weekend calls for the next three due to switching with someone because his wife just gave birth." He got an odd look. "I'm the only single one and I don't have kids who have sports obligations that they've already put in for."
"Well, three weeks is fine. Technically our Queen is only about twenty hours older than your mother." Tony sighed in relief. "So we do hopefully have time. You're single?" Tony nodded. "Any prospects?"
"He dates more than the average hooker," one of his coworkers called.
"What he said, though he's got the next dumpster case," Tony agreed dryly.
Raphael sighed. "Then we'll have to let you find someone. If possible we'll try to help your future spouse as well, Anthony."
"Tony," he said calmly. Since he couldn't dissuade him yet he'd have to put up with it. "Just...fix the birth stuff."
"Agreed." He smiled. "Before you can ask our Queen was married but her only child recently died in a car accident." Tony whimpered. "Being the age she is, it's not possible for her to bear another heir."
"If I have one...."
"It'd have to be legitimate. We'll go over that the next time you have time free," he promised, patting him on the arm. "Let me call someone. All our people were *certain* you were a girl." He walked off, going to their embassy to talk to the mother country.
Tony slunk back to his desk, slumping down in his seat. He saw the few curious looks. "My mother, who hates me, is a royal cousin. The Queen's only child just died in a car accident. It's me or her. My mother's a queen but not that sort."
His captain looked at him. Then he smirked evilly. "I heard your mother say you were a princess."
"Yeah, well, my mother never changed my diaper so she's probably confused about that part," Tony said dryly. "She couldn't figure out how to have a second child either, Cap."
"That's sad." He walked into his office shaking his head. The kid had balls and style at least. He'd make a good princess.
Tony rubbed his sore forehead and decided today was going to be a bad day.
Tony's glare at Raphael made the other man shake his head. "It's not bad news this time, Tony."
"How can it not be? You're in DC. The embassy's in New York."
"Yes, but our Queen is in visiting for the upcoming conference. She wanted to know if you'd attend with her."
Tony grimaced. "We'll see. Have to get time off for that."
"Of course. Would it help if I asked for you? You *are* one of our top security consultants."
"Go ahead," Tony said, pointing at his present boss. "Gibbs, this is Raphael."
Gibbs looked at him. "You have DiNozzo doing security consulting for your embassy?"
"No, we have him doing it for the country. He's our only heir." Gibbs gaped and dropped his coffee.
"That's a bad sign," Tony muttered.
Raphael gave him a chiding look. "It's shock, Tony. I'm sure you never told him." He smiled at him. "He's the last living relative of our Queen through his mother."
"His mother was living the last time I knew," Gibbs told him.
"Yes, but she's unsuitable. Tony isn't so he's the only heir we have." He looked at the young man he had come to like. "Though we must talk about your lack of heirs, Tony. It really must be handled."
"I have sperm in a bank," he complained.
"Should one come from that, the heir wouldn't even be considered. You know that." He looked at Gibbs again. "We're up for the upcoming conference and wanted Tony to attend with us. Would that be agreeable to you?"
"I don't have a problem with that. He could learn a lot." He looked at Tony, who shrugged. "He can go to that. I'll excuse his absence. I was going to send my team anyway. Does your Queen have security?"
"Should she need it, someone will be in great trouble," Raphael told him firmly.
"Good." He checked his watch then looked at Tony. "It's four. You're only doing paperwork."
"My cousin won't be in for another few days," Tony told him. "We've been emailing, boss."
"I was thinking more the clothing issue," Raphael said gently.
"I have plenty," he quipped. "More than most girls do. Princes can even rewear tuxes."
"Yes, but yours no longer fits you, Tony. I saw your last society picture and you looked like a skeleton in the field. Come. Thank you, Special Agent Gibbs."
"You did a check on us?"
"Of course. If he was doing unsuitable work we'd have to make him leave. We can't have our only heir breaking the laws of our country after all." He smiled and stared at Tony until he got up and grabbed his backpack and things to go home with. "Thank you, Mr. Gibbs." He walked Tony out. "I'll arrange a fitting within the hour, then we'll dine while things are being worked on so we can go over the schedule and you can do your usual job of fussing over your cousin's itinerary." Tony nodded. "I'm sure we have it well in hand. The guard you found her is very good."
"I'm happy for that. You do remember I've had the plague in the last year?"
"Yes, most of the country sat vigil when we heard." He shooed him onto the elevator and got him down to the limo so he could whisk him away for a makeover. He clearly was not doing his skincare routine or other necessities.
Gibbs went to talk to the director. "Tom?"
"Tony's an heir to a throne?"
"Yes, he is." He pulled out that file. "Your background checks didn't include that?"
"No, somehow it was missed. He's never mentioned it either." He took the file to look over, grimacing at some of it. Even he knew that the country was uptight. Tony would hate it. He looked at him. "They came to get him for the upcoming conference. I told him he could attend."
"That's fine. I knew your whole team was planning on going and lurking on the security detail." That got a nod and the folder was handed back. "It'll be fine. His cousin is in good health. He'll have a long time before he becomes King Tony instead of Princess Tony."
"He's a princess?"
Morrow smirked evilly. "Apparently all the determinants before his birth said he was going to be female so his title was set up as a princess instead of a prince. It took an act of their ruling council and queen to correct that problem. He had been known about for nearly a year before they fixed it." Gibbs smirked back, shaking his head. "Yes, something only Tony could accomplish." He smiled. "He told me he didn't want to handle anything and he wasn't going to deal with it around here the first time I mentioned it. He didn't want to have it known either. It's part of the reason he left Philadelphia, Jethro. They apparently picked on him greatly about it and he lost his temper a few times."
"I'd lose mine too," he decided, heading back down to his desk. His other people gave him odd looks when they came back from their breaks. "Tony had an engagement that pulled him away."
"A date?" Kate said dryly. "You let him out of paperwork for a date, Gibbs?"
"No, I let him out because he had a political thing he had coming up and had to go get a new suit," he said. He glared at her. She glared back. "Leave it alone, Kate."
"No! If he can leave for a date so can I."
"He's not on a date. He's with someone he's been doing security consulting for. They're dealing with the security for the upcoming terror conference. He's making sure DiNozzo has all the proper attire since he'll be there in person to help the security detail."
She gaped. "He's going to the conference?"
Gibbs nodded. "They need him there."
"Are we still going?" McGee asked. "I know you said we were going to go as part of the security detail so we could sneak into the lectures."
"As far as I know we are. DiNozzo's just on special assignment." He went back to work. "I'm waiting on your paperwork."
"I still say he's got a date," Kate complained, sitting down to get back to work.
"The older gentleman who showed up isn't his sort, Agent Todd. Mind out of his gutter and back into your paperwork please."
She glared at him. "Fine. We'll see." She finished up her report so she could go home and sulk in private. She needed to do some searching. Tony had never bragged he was doing security consulting for anyone important. He would have so he was hiding something major. A few hours on the internet and she'd know, then she could have blackmail against him again. Then she'd get the better jobs on scenes again.
Tony looked at his cousin a few days later, nodding politely. "Mary."
"Tony." She smiled and kissed his cheek. "You look quite handsome. I see Raphael attacked you again." He nodded, smirking a bit. "It's good you let him fuss since he has no one else to fuss over." She took his arm and walked off with him, going somewhere more private. "How are you?"
"I'm fine now. They really held a vigil?"
"They really arranged and sat in vigil outside the major news center in the capitol," she assured him. "There was much crying and praying going on. A few priests led prayers for your health and everything."
"Tell them I said thank you. I hadn't heard but I'm sure it helped."
She smiled. "It had to. You're still with us." She sat them down in her bedroom on the bed, facing him. "Now, dear. Tell your cousin, is there *anyone* who moves you?" He blushed but shook his head. "No one? You're getting a bit on in years, Tony, and so am I."
"I know. I wish there was but there's not. I'm sorry, Cousin."
"No, don't be. We can't regulate our hearts." She patted his hand. "I married for suitability and look what happened. You should marry for love."
"I could go knock some pretty woman up," he teased.
"That would be a horrible scandal and if something happened to us we'd be without an heir. The Ruling Council is very firm in not accepting that. They've been nagging Raphael again about making sure you didn't have any already."
"Not that I've been told." He shrugged. "I have some sperm in a bank but otherwise nothing."
"I know, dear." She stroked his cheek. "Some of the Council will be here as well." Tony grimaced. "Not him. He's retired. You don't have to deal with him, but his wife is on the Council and she's started to hint that perhaps a political one would be suitable for you."
"I'd hate it and hate them," Tony told her simply.
She nodded. "I can understand that. You should talk to her during the conference. I can set that up for you." She smiled. "Do you think you could get me a tour of your present job? There's a small group that's worried that it's harmful to you."
"I'm basically still an officer," he told her.
"I know. They're worried that you're going to get the plague again." He nodded. "Can you?"
"I can ask. Anything else you want to see?"
"I'd love to see the library," she offered. "We need to set up our own. It's my pet project. You learn to have those things to take the passions you can't wear out on your political marriage."
"Which is why I'd never agree to one," Tony reminded her. "Even with pet projects, I'd have to feel something for them. I can't stand to live with someone now, much less be hampered by a marriage of convenience."
"I know." She smiled. "We'll figure it out, dear." She stroked his cheek. "Come, let's sneak out and get a cheeseburger. I haven't had a good one in months."
He winked and nodded at the backdoor. "I've got the mustang in valet parking." She beamed and they snuck out to have a normal people dinner.
Raphael checked a few hours later, shaking his head. "Hopefully she can still fit into her gown for the reception," he complained, going to send word to her bodyguard. "Paul, Tony took her off."
"He called. They're having sundaes after cheeseburgers and fries." He smirked at him. "She'll be fine with him."
"Yes, but we still must worry about him." He went back to his own room so he could arrange things for the next morning's meetings. Someone had to make sure things got done properly and on time around there, it usually meant he had to since no one else took responsibility.
Tony looked at his boss across the reception, smiling at him and nodding a bit. He smiled at the woman next to him before walking over there. "Hey, boss. I went over the details with Paul. It's secure."
"Mostly. You forgot some of the roof and the windows."
"Which are sealed from the inside and sealed literally, Gibbs. They're nailed shut. We'd hear if someone tried them." He sipped his champagne. "It's not as boring as usual. The senator's wife going into early labor set off a better class of gossip than usual." Gibbs smacked him on the head. "Don't mess it up. Raphael will swear at you," he teased.
"Let him. He can't be worse than a drill sergeant."
"Speaking of, Mary wanted to take a tour of the office. Are we having a current case?"
"Not this week."
"Then I'll bring her around tomorrow afternoon, as planned. That way we're not in the way." That got a nod. "Morrow isn't here?"
"He's with his wife," he said with a discreet point. "He's hiding."
"That'll work. Wish I could," he muttered. Gibbs gave him a smug look. "They're talking political marriage since I can't seem to find someone worthy of me."
"Very. I don't think I could manage to breed the next heir if there was one." He shrugged. "Even if she was pretty and stunning, the very thought makes me go cold."
"So do most commitments, DiNozzo. You'll figure it out." He turned him around. "Your cousin's looking panicked."
Tony strolled back over there, smiling at her. "What's wrong?" he asked quietly in her ear. "Problems?"
"I can't find Paul."
"I'm sure he's on a smoke break," he soothed. He called him. "Paul, Tony. Where are you?" He nodded. "That'll work. Thank you." He hung up. "My mother showed up with Father."
"I'm sorry." She took his arm, going to greet her other relatives. They were her family, she should be near the receiving line when they show up. "Are we still on for our tour tomorrow?"
"We are. I checked with Gibbs. There's no open cases in my pod so it won't matter much on the tour and we won't be in the way." He smiled at her then at their hosts. "My other relatives."
"I heard." She smiled and greeted them warmly, letting them inside. The bodyguard trailing them took up his usual position behind his protectee. "I'm sure it's good to have the family back together again. Why don't you adjourn to the solarium for a few minutes so you can catch up?" she suggested.
"Thank you, ma'am," Tony said, walking Mary that way, his parents following. He looked at them once they were away from anyone who could hear the complaining. "Why did you fly down, Father?"
"Your mother insisted," he said grimly. "I'd rather have her away from this. Why are you here?"
"My team is working the conference to make sure everyone's all right and Cousin Mary asked me to attend so we could go over some security issues in person. I've been helping the local departments there upgrade to the modern standard we use at NCIS."
His father stared. "You're where?"
"NCIS, Father. If you had listened to anything in the last two years, you'd know that. Especially since Gibbs called you when I had the plague and you were too busy with your golf game." He smiled and walked off, heading back inside. The members of the Ruling Council managed to pin him down finally and he smiled. "My mother's here." He took another sip of his champagne.
"Tony, we must speak," the lone female member ordered. They led him off. "There are problems. The Queen is ill, though she won't admit it."
Tony stared at her. "You know this how?"
"Her doctor has a spy in the office so we're alerted if something's going on," one admitted.
Tony glared at him. "Doctor-patient confidentiality is important to most people. Even Queens. They don't have many people they can talk to honestly. A doctor should be one."
"We'll get into that later," he snorted. Tony glared and looked at her. "You must marry soon."
Tony gave him a cold look. "I can't even find someone I like enough to date for three consecutive dates." They gaped. "Much less marry. Before you say it, a political marriage is so evil to me nothing would ever come of it." They all slumped. "I have serious issues with commitment thanks to my relatives over here. You pushing things isn't making it any better. Have I made myself clear on this point?"
She took his arm to walk him off. "We're not going to ambush you with one, Tony. We simply wanted to set up things so you could be introduced to some suitable women of good birth. Women like myself."
Tony looked at her. "You forget I was raised over here. My only two loves at the moment are my work and movies."
"I've heard. We've kept close tabs o you in case something new happened and you finally found someone worthy of us." She smiled. "Would you consent to come over for a few months? That way we could let you meet some nice people and the ones who'll be helping you when it's your turn on the throne?"
He pointed. "That's my boss. His name is Special Agent Jethro Gibbs."
"I'll clear it with him," she agreed. "Two months?"
"For the good of the country, I will. I will not be ambushed with a marriage however."
"Of course not. You'd have to agree." She smiled and kissed him on the cheek. "Thank you for being reasonable, dear." She walked over to Jethro. "May we speak, Special Agent Gibbs?"
"We may," he agreed, staring at her. "You need to borrow my agent for more duties?"
"Technically we need to borrow him to do many things but mostly to see if we can get him to settle down. He's the only heir and at his age there should be another one by now." Gibbs nodded slowly. "He's already made himself clear on the point of not accepting a political marriage unless things are dire. I thought to bring him home and introduce him to some women of good and suitable birth plus introduce him to the people who'll be helping him when it's his turn under the crown."
Gibbs considered it. "He has vacation time at the moment. Not much. He had to use it when he was hospitalized last time because he was out of sick hours."
"Could we arrange for an unpaid absence or something?"
He pointed. "That's our boss. I'll walk you over...."
"Oh, I'm Contessa London Aires." She shook his hand. "On the Ruling Council. We came over for the conference and to talk to Tony."
"Sometimes it's hard to find him when you want him," he said dryly, walking her over there. "Tom?"
The director looked at them and smiled. "Contessa. Pleasure to have you in DC."
She smiled. "It's nice to be here. I've always enjoyed coming to the US for shopping trips." She smiled at Gibbs then at him again. "We need to borrow Tony to introduce him around to the people who'll be helping him when it's his turn. This nice man said to talk to you about that since Tony was nearly out of leave time."
"He is but I'm sure we can arrange for something," he offered, walking her off to talk with her in private.
Gibbs went to find Tony. "She's arranging for you to take some time off with Morrow," he said quietly.
"Yeah, they're going to pimp me out," he said grimly, snagging another glass from a passing waiter. He smiled at his cousin. "Mary, have you met my boss yet?"
She shook his hand. "Only by reputation, Special Agent Gibbs."
"Mary, please, Jethro. I get enough of that from my people." He smirked at her.
"Speaking of, your doctor has a spy," Tony told her. "You're sick?"
"I'm tired. My diet could be better. There's been some issues recently." She shrugged. "It happens but some groups have been getting pushy and our intelligence system has spotted an arms dealer who just bought a house locally. They're trying to get him to leave the country before we become known as a haven."
Tony frowned. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"We're keeping it quiet. I don't want to worry anyone about violence showing up."
"Should it, you'll be calling," Jethro ordered. "We might be able to share information."
She gave him a gentle, polite hug. "Thank you, Jethro. I'll tell my people that." She smiled. "I should go work the other half of the room. Excuse me for a few please. Then come save me." She walked off, going to do that, her bodyguard following behind looking a bit amused. "Oh you know I need it," she chided.
"Of course you do. Though it was nice the senator's wife gave people something to talk about tonight." He heard Tony laugh at that joke. She swatted him with a fond look. "We'll figure it out, My Queen." They went to talk to someone else, finding the Ruling Council huddling around someone. He nudged her. "Problems."
She walked over there, clearing her throat. "For your information, we've been keeping a problem from you. That's why I've been tired. I'm not ill or whatever other excuse has been made up recently. Another reason I needed to talk to Tony. We've had an arms dealer move into a border town recently." They gaped at her.
"I've been working with our people to make him leave," Paul agreed quietly. "He's stubborn and we don't want to provoke him to violence. Tony's boss just promised to try to get us more information and possibly help if he could."
"That would work perfectly," Contessa Aires noted calmly. "We need Tony to come over for a while so he can meet everyone important and some nice women." Paul gave her an odd look. "He's thirty-two. It's about time. Director, could we borrow his whole team to handle that situation? That way Tony could work on our security upgrades in person for a while. His team could assist in the capture of this person if he's wanted internationally. They probably have a good sense of what our intelligence needs, but Tony's been focusing on the baseline, local officers instead of the country-wide intelligence gathering services."
He considered it. "That would save him leave time for a later need," he decided. "One of his people is also very skilled in computers. He's a hacker. Plus the female on their team is a former Secret Service agent." They all smiled at that. "I would agree to that. Queen Mary?"
"That would be delightful," she agreed. "Tony's been wanting to know how his upgrade schedule has been going." They all smiled at that. "When can we kidnap them?"
"Don't say that around Gibbs. Tony got kidnaped about six months ago and he's still touchy," Morrow said with a slight smile.
"And we thought you got into trouble," one of the males on the Council said grimly.
"I get it from her," Tony said as he walked behind them. He smiled at the director. "Evening, Director."
"Tony. You're doing the tour tomorrow afternoon?"
"Probably about one. That'll mean most everyone's running out for a late lunch, to court, or will be busy. That way we're not in the way."
"That'll work for me," he promised. Mary smiled and shook his hand, walking Tony and her bodyguard off again. He smiled at the Ruling Council. "What sort of security upgrades were you thinking about? I can help you get introduced to the right people if Tony can't." They gathered around to get his opinion on what Tony had planned. He was good but surely a director was better at those sort of things.
Gibbs looked at his people the next morning, seeing the amused look on Kate's face. "Yes, Tony's in line for that throne," he told her. "That's the pressing political business he has coming up."
The director walked in with a bright smile. "Good morning, team." He shut the door. "No picking on Tony, Caitlyn. Jethro, a solution for you being without Tony for so long was reached last night." Jethro carefully put down his cup of coffee. "Good idea." He smiled. "As they've now got an internationally wanted arms dealer that's moved in, plus a few other problems, we're lending them your full team. They'll need to talk to both McGee and Kate about upgrading their security net anyway." He sat down with a smile. "Tony's done an amazing job but they need to plan how to implement it with the rest of the country and other things. Tony's been focusing on the local levels for the upgrades so far. Though he has posted a few openings at the FBI and CIA for them to recruit."
Gibbs stared at him. "How long are we talking?"
"A few months. Enough time to stop him and the probable drug lord that's trying to move in as well, look over the security net that they have presently to give advice on, let McGee look at their computers and suggest where they need to be heading in a long-term direction since Tony's pitiful in that area. Before you ask, if it wasn't for Tony you'd still be losing Kate and McGee to this assignment. You probably as well since you can spot flaws in a system faster than anyone when they annoy you. I'd simply have moved Tony to his own team while you were gone. This way I don't have to split your team and you're creating goodwill for the US in future negotiations." He stood up. "You'll be leaving at the end of the security conference, people. The Queen will be here today on a tour. You can ask her pertinent climate questions then, Kate." She nodded slowly. "Do remember that you're representing not only the agency and the US, but also those of us in the security community while you're gone. By the way, Gibbs, they do have Starbucks. You won't have to do without coffee." He smiled. "Dismissed." They glared but left to grumble in their own pod. He sat down behind his desk again, getting comfortable. "I'm sure they'll take the time to have fun as well," he told himself. "It's beautiful country that way."
Tony gave the people loading the plane with him a few days later a confused look. "Boss, why are you here?"
"We're all going with you," Kate told him. "We've been assigned to help with the upgrade situation. Plus whatever international felons they've got." She sat down in a seat but Tony moved her and put her in another. "Some reason for that, Tony?" she smirked.
"Yeah, Paul insists on sitting next to her for safety reasons." He looked at Gibbs again. "You were?" He nodded. "When?"
"Okay," Tony decided. "I'm sure we can work out housing and transportation things at that point." He looked at the others as they came on. "You could've told me!" he called when Mary walked up to the office section.
"Dear, we needed them anyway. I've heard your boss can spot the flaws in any bureaucracy faster than anyone." She smiled at them. "I have to do some paperwork. I'll be back there in an hour. Get comfortable, people. Paul, you can help tell them what they need to know, dear." She patted his cheek and shut herself in the office, getting to work.
"I thought they were going to talk up my movie collection," Tony joked.
"Because of you, Hollywood has come asking if they can shoot in our woods," he offered with an evil smirk. He sat in his usual seat.
"Make sure we're getting the equivalent of what Vancouver gets for shooting fees and things," Tony told him. That got a nod. "They do a lot of tv up there."
"I'll let her know." He wrote that out and slid it under the office door, then he sat down again. "There, that should work." He buckled up. "This is all that's on this flight." They all nodded and buckled in too since the stewardess came out to close the door and count heads.
Tony looked at Gibbs. "Look at it as a partial vacation, boss. It's beautiful country."
"Then why don't you live there?"
"No one will deliver movies." Paul gave him a long stare. "And the people give me worshiping looks so I feel like I'm letting them down all the time by being myself."
"That's a common fear," Paul told him. "You'll figure out how to do it well enough when it's your turn, Tony." Tony gave him a dirty look. "Unless you can miraculously pop up a child that's of suitable birth and background?"
"No," he said, looking grim. "Not at this moment. Hopefully by the time Mary's ready to retire."
"We all hope there's little DiNozzos by that point," Paul agreed. "Otherwise you'll be too old to raise one."
"Yes you would be." He looked at Gibbs. "Can't you make him settle down?"
"I barely manage to make him listen in the field and do paperwork." He took a sip from his travel mug of coffee. The plane started to taxi off and even though he tensed up it was a much smoother ride than he was used to. "Need planes this good for military transports. Be easier to sleep."
Kate looked at him. "The grunts would feel over-privileged and spoiled, Gibbs. They'd never get out of there for field cots." Tony snickered, shaking his head and pulling out his book. "McGee, what did you bring to read?"
"Um, the newest Tom Clancy. You?"
"Two magazines." She pulled them out. "I forgot and had to stop in the airport."
Tony tossed over something. "There, Kate."
"It's a romance."
Tony grinned at her. "Beats a political marriage." She groaned. "You know, if they do force one on me, you can even be a bridesmaid."
She glared. "Don't threaten me with the ugly dresses, Tony. You won't like it when you end up wearing one." Paul laughed.
Gibbs gave her an odd look. "Forgot the nausea medicine again, Kate?"
"Yes," she growled. Tony tossed some of that over too. "Thank you."
"Welcome. I've got gum too. I know your ears usually ache since we'll be flying for about ten hours." He leaned his chair back once the plane finished leveling out, getting comfortable. "Nap if you want to. Once we get there it's an hour's ride to the palace if we're heading there."
"Yup," Paul agreed. "They can stay in your wing."
"That'll work," Tony agreed. "How many women are the Councilors going to pimp me to?"
"Probably half the country. If not half of Europe."
"Wonderful," Tony said sarcastically, shaking his head. "Hopefully they remember I like beauty and brains."
"She'd have to be smart, Tony. She'll have to help you rule," Paul said gently.
"Why can't they go to a European style democracy?" Tony whined.
"Because the people voted to keep the Queen when someone tried a few years back. They like their system and they're keeping it. Now quit whining. You're worse than Corrine ever was. For that matter, we'll be making sure you don't taint your future kids like you did her so they won't whine or climb all over the Council's table."
"Oops." He shot him a grin. "Could've been worse. Earlier that morning I had her in the stables doing manual labor."
"Her mother heard," Paul promised. "She was going to spank you for that."
"Tough. She needed to learn. The same as I did."
"It made her more accessible and more reasonable to the common man's problems," Paul said. "It doesn't mean that it's not against the rules."
"Bugger the rules."
"That's about the only rule we've broken in the last ten years," Paul sighed, shaking his head. "That way you could be gay if you wanted to be, as long as the surrogate for your child was agreed upon and fit the other qualifications for the mother of the future heir."
"Don't make me hit you with something, Tony. There's no paramedic to sew you up again."
"As lovely as she is, I doubt she'd meet qualifications," Paul reminded him. "Don't worry, Kate. The qualifications for the mother of the heir are very high. Including that she must speak at least two languages, she must have at least one higher degree, and she must be able to speak our national, native language. She must also be of good, preferably royal or noble, birth and be of impeccable grooming, taste, artistic merit, and able to breed."
"England's has a virgin clause," Tony teased her.
"That's about the only one I don't fit outside of noble birth," Kate told him. Paul gaped. She nodded. "I do speak French and I do speak some Spanish."
"Don't even think about it," Mary said from the doorway. "You'd have to live to serve others, Caitlyn. I don't take you as one who could." She shook her head quickly. She came out to stroke over Tony's hair. "We're already getting what Vancouver gets, Tony. I asked someone who used to produce films and he told me what to go for."
"Just making sure, Mary."
"I know. You do look out for us very well." She sat down beside Paul and smiled at everyone. "Gibbs, there's a coffee maker in the kitchen on the plane. If you run out, tell us. I was warned not to let you run out." She smiled at Kate. "We'll see if we can let you vet some of the women being introduced to him. Since you're close friends I'm sure you know what his type is."
"Easy, young, pretty, leggy," Kate told her simply.
She laughed. "There's more to marriage than that. I made one tough marriage work." Tony shuddered. "I know, he was not the best choice but he was the only choice available at the time." She smiled gently at him. "We'll find you someone nice, Tony. If we have to, we'll even help you woo her."
"That assumes I like any of them and they like me," Tony pointed out. "I'm a hard man to get along with. I work atrocious hours for Gibbs. I do a lot of hard cases. She's got to learn to like the agent and the man, not the prince."
"I know. We'll help you find someone nice, dear."
"Uh-huh. Let me be skeptical about that for a long time, cousin. After all, they set you up with someone who I always thought was sightly insane."
"Inbreeding," she said blandly.
"Happens to mutts all the time," Tony agreed. "That's why I don't date dogs."
"Some of your past dates..." Kate started.
"They all had beauty, Kate. Even if they had nothing else they had beauty." He got back to his book. "Anything I should worry about? Like a homecoming?"
"No. We haven't told anyone you're coming back, Tony. We know how you feel about parades and things in your honor." Gibbs gaped. McGee gaped.
Kate opened her mouth. Closed it once or twice, then looked at her. "Does that mean he got to wear the tiara in public?"
Mary burst out laughing, nodding. "Only when we first got him. Raphael was most insistent that he learn to like the weight of the crown. He had to wear it everywhere. Since the day before his coronation as the heir was a legal holiday with a parade, we extended the holiday over the rest of that week. There were three or four parades that he ended up riding in. Then the ceremonial parade to his coronation. Then the one back from the coronation. Then the one to the ball that night. The one to the airport when he went home because everyone decided they needed to throw him a going away party. He finally made a speech at that one. Told them to think of it as him going on a long vacation, not him going away. He graciously thanked everyone for their hospitality, promised he'd let others tutor him in what he needed to know. Then he said that he had a calling and he had to go back to his real job. That he'd be watching from afar and come back when needed. That's why we pulled him into the serious upgrades we were starting, so he'd know what was going on."
"It helped me too," Tony pointed out. "I learned a lot dealing with cranky town constables and inspectors who didn't want to do more than stare at me. Mostly patience since I had to keep proving I knew what I was doing repeatedly but I did learn a lot." He grinned sweetly. "Why didn't you have the guys at the university do the computers?"
"We have. They keep babbling at us in a strange language we don't understand."
"Klingon?" McGee asked.
"No, I speak that," Paul told him. "We tried that, they went into technical details in Klingon. Then switched to something from Babylon 5 that I don't have a dictionary for."
"I can translate geek back into normal english," McGee promised.
"Thank you, that would be most helpful," she agreed. "Plus you can tell them if they're not being realistic or not. One of them wanted voice activated office machines."
McGee shook his head. "They're programmers, aren't they?" She smiled and nodded. "I went to school with a bunch of them. I can help."
"Thank you. Plus they can show you what they're doing at the college if you want. They're doing...something." She waved a hand. "Again, went right over my head. I nodded and smiled and looked like those dolls you put in the back window of the car."
Tony snickered. "You did that a lot," he teased.
"I know. It makes me look like an idiot but they come back with less technical terms later on," she assured him. "You usually give them the 'huh' look and then tell them you're confused, to please speak human. I can't be that rude."
Tony grinned. "That's why I'm the heir."
"Yes it is."
"So let me be the heir and you figure out if you're going to remarry."
"The populous didn't like that idea; we did a poll," Paul told him.
Tony stared at him for a moment. "Sometimes living for the people has to take a backseat to living for yourself. Otherwise you forget why you're doing the job and what people are really like. They didn't like that she took a vacation either, but it helped."
"Yes, but this was something most everyone was adamantly opposed to. Over ninety percent decided that it's a bad idea for me to remarry."
"Even if they knew the person would be suitable and actually like you?" Gibbs asked. She looked at him. "Been married three times myself." She gave him an awed look. "You can marry once for politics but the second one should be for a personal reason. That way you can experience what fighting for something you enjoy is like."
"I hadn't thought of that." She looked at Paul. "We'll have to redo the poll."
He nodded. "I'll tell someone once we land." He smiled at her. Then at Gibbs. "It's not me. I'm her assistant."
"He's gayer than McGee's sweater vest," Tony put in from behind his book.
"Gee, thanks," McGee said.
Kate smiled. "You do look a bit like a gay guy on the hunt in it," she agreed when he looked at her.
"I'll burn it later," he muttered, going back to his book.
"It could be worse. It could be that green blazer," Tony offered with a small smile.
"I look good in that."
"If you're wanting to look like Beakman," Tony finished for him.
"Hey! I do not."
"Do I even want to know?"
"The guy on tv with the wild hair who does that science show, Gibbs," Kate told him.
"Oh, him. Get rid of it too, McGee."
"Yes, boss." He pouted at his book, but went back to reading.
"We do have a number of excellent clothiers in the capitol," Mary offered. "I'm sure Tony can show you since his wardrobe is pitiful and out of date."
"I'm comfortable. Remember, my future spouse will have to get used to being an agent's wife first and then the wife of the heir. The budget for designer clothes is very pitiful and I'm first."
"We'll see if we can find a woman who works," Kate told him. "That way you don't have to support her too."
"Might be nice," Tony agreed. "Would ease the finances some too. Then she could buy her own designer stuff." He went back to his book. "I can gladly lead an expedition around the capitol tomorrow, guys. Or the last day, whichever you want."
"We can go both," Kate assured him with a bright smile. "Money exchange?"
"At the airport," Paul assured her. He smiled. "It'll be fine, relax, Kate. You'll do fine and only Tony will embarrass the US."
Tony gave him an odd look. "They like it when my quirky sense of humor comes out."
"Yes they do," Mary agreed. "But no sorority parade this time, all right? I heard about that for months the last time."
"Sure. I won't show off our best and brightest." He grinned and got back to reading.
Gibbs looked at Tony for a minute then at Paul. "When do we get briefed about those two idiots and the upgrades?"
"We'll be briefing Tony in the morning about the upgrades so you can sit in on that. Then we'll go over the other stuff that afternoon? Let you have a good, long look at what he's been doing."
"That'll work," McGee agreed. He shifted in his seat and yawned. "Excuse me but I think I'll nap for a bit."
"Go ahead, I often do," Mary assured him. He smiled and snuggled down into his seat once he had it tipped back comfortably. Tony grinned at her. "It'll be fine. They won't be putting you on a pedestal naked."
"Thankfully. I'd hate that," Tony quipped. "I'd need to cover some scars first."
Gibbs moaned, smacking him on the head. "DiNozzo, quit."
Mary looked confused. "You let him hit you?"
"It shows affection," Kate said with a grin, getting her own. "Better a head smack than being growled at."
Tony nodded. "Gibbs probably spanks really hard."
"Don't do that in public," Paul warned. Gibbs gave him an odd look. "It'll be shown as either a sign of *affection* between all of you or someone will think that you abuse Tony."
"They do. They make me do horrible paperwork and sit at my desk when I'm bored and have nothing to do. Then he makes me go to scenes where I have to taunt the probies until they toughen up and quit being robots. I swear the last group was clones."
"We had triplets in it," Kate reminded him.
"I meant the other ones."
"They'll get used to him playing I'm sure," Gibbs told the queen and assistant/bodyguard.
"We had to," Kate agreed.
Tony stuck his tongue out at her. "Keep it up. I'll tell the garden club women that you're fascinated." She shuddered and slunk down in her seat. "Or introduce you to some nice diplomats."
"The main diplomat's son is very nice," Mary told her. "He's a bit bright. Graduated college at eighteen with a Masters. He's in banking. Very sweet but a bit odd sometimes. He stares at women like they're statues and he has not a clue what to do with them. We've all tried to help the poor boy get over his shyness."
"It's not shyness. He's stunned by the breasts," Tony told her. He gave her a look. "Set him up with one for a fling and it'll stop that. It did me and look at me now."
She stared. "Your father did what?"
"Set me up with a girl who was fairly easy and demanding in bed. That way I knew what I was doing; she taught me what girls liked and I quit staring at tits everywhere I went."
She shuddered. "Please don't do that to your future heir, Tony."
"You know, there's women in the Middle East who've had kids at your age," he noted.
"Dear...." Gibbs smacked him again for her. "Thank you, Jethro."
He smirked. "That idea needed it."
"Abby wrote to one to see if he had figured out how to make men carry them yet," Tony told him with a bright grin. "She was having a bit of PMS and was pissed at Palmer so she suggested him as a test subject."
"Ducky would be very upset if that were to happen," Gibbs said, shaking his head to clear that mental image before it stuck.
"There's more coffee in the kitchen area, Jethro," Mary reminded him.
He nodded, going to get some. Tony could go back to reading and everything would be fine again sometime soon.
Tony walked off the airplane and into the terminal, waving at the Custom's official. "Morning."
"Your Highness," he said, bowing. "And Your Majesty too!" he creeled, bowing again. "What do we owe this honor to?"
"The other airport was packed with people and the press thanks to that band," Tony told him, letting him stamp his passport. "Is your Supe here? My boss is helping with the upgrade stuff and he's going to need to set up a meeting with him too."
"Of course." He radioed that in while the others came off the plane. His boss hurried out, bowing to both of them then letting Tony point him at Gibbs. Gibbs nodded at what he was babbling and they set up a time for a meeting fairly quickly, letting them head out. "Have an excellent day, Your Majesties."
"You as well, dear." She smiled at him. He beamed back and she walked off with her hand on Tony's arm. "The motorcade should be here by now. They said the North entrance, Paul?"
"Thank you." She led them that way, letting her get into her car with Paul. Tony got into his car with his people. The Ruling Council's cars were also in attendance so apparently they had diverted too. They took off, heading back to the palace. It was a pleasant ride, one she enjoyed. "Let's swing past the Cathedral so they can do some sightseeing," she ordered her driver, who nodded.
Tony smiled at the route change. "Mary decided to let us do some sightseeing on the way in, guys." He pointed. "That is one of the outbuildings of the university. The full campus is about three blocks past that. That's the...incinerator and hazardous science building if I remember right." He smiled at McGee. "They have a nice nuclear physics program and no one wanted that on campus." He pointed at another building. "That's our Ruling Council's building. Recently updated with their own personal funds."
"That was nice of them," Kate said. "No soaking the public?"
"Not a big enough budget and it got them some good out-country contacts to do that." He pointed at another building. "That's our oldest cathedral. That's where the important stuff takes place. Like Westminster Abby in England." They went round a traffic circle. "Sorry, a French street designer." That got a smirk from Gibbs and Kate. McGee was staring. "That's the clothing district down to the right and the left is the mall. Conveniently placed so you can hit all of them on the same day if you want." He pointed at another building. "That's the Royal Academy. That's the state's premiere boarding school. It does kids from sixth grade and up. All royal heirs were to go there. Fortunately they found me after I was an adult since I would've been at a disadvantage due to the language."
"How hard is it to get in?" Kate asked. "I went to a non-boarding one and it was by referral only basically."
"It's placement testing," Tony told her. "The heirs aren't coddled or anything. They have to win placement too. Anyone in the country is eligible to go there. There's scholarships if you can't afford the boarding costs but literally everyone takes the test and then they decide from there. The upper levels have a split high school system with tracks for those who want to do more menial things or more college-necessary things. That way the kids in autoshop don't have to deal with math teachers teaching above their levels." He pointed at another building. "Technically I have an apartment in that building but I've only been there twice. I usually hide there when I come in for at least half the visit. The press is rabid and will try to follow you around. Be polite, please. They cry if you're not polite. I came in after a very bad case and growled. Then I ended up feeling sorry for the crying reporter and had to give an interview about why I had been growling so much." That got a smirk from McGee. "She did! I hate to see women cry, Probie. It messes up their makeup. Up ahead is the palace. We're going there."
They all looked and he smiled. "The South wing is mine. We'll be there to drop off stuff then I'll let someone give you a tour while I get pounced by someone." They all nodded and when the car stopped he got out first, helping Kate out. "C'mon, guys. Long hikes ahead of us. While we're working we can use the back gate so it's a shorter one and it goes right past the kitchen." He walked in and heard a roar. "Oh, that's Simba. He was a diplomatic gift after Mary's husband died. He won't eat you, he's been hand-raised, and he likes to pounce. Fair warning, Gibbs." He led them off. "That's the royal audience chamber," he said with a point. "Behind it's the announcement and press room. I'm sure someone's already waiting in there. Miranda, we're back," he called when he spotted her. She scowled and he grinned so she took out her earbuds. "I knew you'd be playing heavy metal and wouldn't have heard the news. Guys, this is Miranda. She's the head housekeeper. Miranda, this is my team. Kate, Gibbs, and McGee. They're on assignment to help me with the upgrade stuff."
She curtseyed. "Welcome, sirs and madam. Are they staying in your suite, Highness?"
"Somewhere in my wing. Wherever something's open." She nodded, walking with them to make sure rooms were ready. They were kept ready but one never knew. Gibbs shouted and turned but the cat that had pounced him just seemed to grin and licked up the coffee he had spilled. "Simba," he chided. "Greet the guests properly. He'd pet you if you asked."
Simba was a large Siberian tiger that leaned down to nuzzle Gibbs' face then plopped down on top of his chest, making him groan. He did pet him carefully, earning a huff of pleasure. "If you get off, I'll pet you some more," he promised in a wheeze. Tony helped get the cat off him and he did sit down to pet him, making him a happy tiger. He bounced off, taking a last few licks of the rug to get the last of the coffee up. "Sorry about that, ma'am."
Miranda snorted. "She did it to one of the staff the other morning at breakfast, Mr. Gibbs."
"Just Gibbs is fine," he assured her, standing up again.
She smiled. "That'll never do here. We're a polite people." She walked them off. "Ma'am, would you like a garden view, a more detailed garden view, or one of the road?"
"Anything's fine as long as the bed is comfortable and there's a closet," Kate told her. "We're NCIS," she explained at the frustrated look. "Half the time we spend on a base when we're out of town. I've spent plenty of nights on a field cot."
She just nodded at that and let her into a room. "Then this should do nicely for you. The closets are on the left and the bathroom is beside them, ma'am." She smiled and walked across the hall, letting the young man carrying the laptop case into another room. "This one is wired for internet. Not all of this suite is," she told him. "The plug is on the desk. The bathroom is on the right, behind the pale door, and the closets are behind the screens."
He nodded. "Thank you, this is wonderful," he said with a smile.
She patted him on the arm. "Dinner is in three hours. We do expect something nice, but not formal wear." She walked them on. "Highness, the only other rooms in this wing that're wired are yours and the study." Tony shrugged. "You won't mind, Mr. Gibbs?"
"I'm not much on the internet."
"Hmm. Highness, do you want him in the blue room or the scarlet room?"
Tony looked at him, then at her. "He likes boats. Go ahead and put him into my guest suite so he can watch the guys do the anniversary preparations." That got a nod and she hurried ahead to prepare that room, letting him inside. Tony opened the main suite's doors since they automatically closed. "This is my suite. Your room is the one on the right with the plain door, boss." That got a nod and he headed that way. Tony went to his room. "I'm over here in the blue room," he called as he walked. He dropped things onto his couch and flopped down on his bed, letting himself fall asleep there. He was exhausted. He had put most of his stuff in storage the night before. Even his nap on the plane hadn't helped that much.
Gibbs peeked in a few minutes later then closed the door. "He's asleep," he told her. "Spent most of last night putting stuff into storage."
She giggled. "He always sleeps when he first gets here. I'll send in a very quiet maid to deal with his things." She smiled. "Your suite will need a coffeemaker, I'll send one up with a selection of coffees."
"I can find the kitchen."
She snorted. "You don't belong in the kitchen, Mr. Gibbs. That's my job." She walked off, going to handle that and send in the quietest, non-giggling maid they had. She went to check on her boss's personal servers. "Is she settled?" He nodded. "Good. When did she want dinner? I have it scheduled for three hours so they have time to rest. His Highness is already asleep."
He considered it. "Move it back by about a half-hour. Send someone to take the heir's team on a tour. I know he would want them to be able to find their way around." She nodded, going to do that. He went to check in with the others who needed to know everyone was back. The press was going to be having a field day with the new people. Rumors would surely start that the heir was back for his wedding or some such. It was nearly disgraceful but it had to be managed.
Tony came down to dinner that night, looking at Raphael. "I noticed my closet sprouted again. Thank you."
"Welcome, sire." He sat down once Tony had since the queen was already there and reading at the table. He smiled at McGee since he was across from him. "How was your tour?"
"Fascinating. You have some beautiful artwork and architecture here."
He smiled. "It's not my doing but thank you. Our rulers have been frugally extravagant over the centuries."
Tony gave him a look. "All but the one."
"All but the one back during the Age of Masters. She went on a buying spree because her husband upset her. Every time they had a fight she bought something new or had a room renovated."
"Sounds like some wives I know," Kate quipped, making him smile. "My room is lovely, thank you, Highness."
"You're welcome, Kate. Tim, did your logging on issue get solved?" He nodded. "Good. Let us know if you have any other problems. The server's a bit ancient. Tony had it installed nearly six years ago now."
"It was new then," Tony defended. "Besides, I let someone tell me what was needed and I got that."
"You did and it works very well for our needs," she agreed happily. She smiled at Gibbs. "The anniversary's preparations won't bother you?"
"Not in the least. Most nights I work on the boat I'm building in my basement."
She beamed. "You do it by hand?"
"With the more ancient tools," Tony told her. "She not only rides but helped build the royal stables and works with our version of Habitat for Humanity, boss." He looked at Raphael. "I know I've got a schedule for tomorrow. The briefing, shopping, then the afternoon briefing?" He nodded. "Anything else?"
"No, not yet. The various heads wanted to talk to you but since you'll be in for more than a few days this time they'll not plague you the first day." Tony smiled. "You will be shopping with Miss Kate?"
Tony groaned. "Must I?" Raphael nodded. "Please?"
"No. You must look nice. You are the crown prince, Tony. Do not make me put you back in that tiara again." Tony whimpered but nodded. "Thank you." He smiled at Gibbs. "The briefings were switched around. You'll get one on the threats first and then the upgrades meeting in the afternoon."
"That's fine. Did he remember to tell you I set up one to meet with the Custom's people about upgrading so they can get into the US threat database?"
"We've already been told." That got a nod and a small smirk. "All the section heads report to me and I report to Tony while he's with you. We have that scheduled and by then we'll have the full assessment and any plans for you to scout their locations can be made. That will be the last of the upgrade meetings actually. The intelligence one is the day after. Then the one for the military while your cohorts deal with the computer issue and the college." That got a nod. "Thank you."
"The college?" Kate asked.
"Our intelligence community is trained in-country," Mary explained. "It's a selective, difficult program at the university." She gaped. "As opposed to having to take one and then a special school we put it together back in the sixties. It's worked well for us so far and our people are offered the chance to take continuing education credits. We have people from MI-5 who teach there and some from the CIA as well. Plus a Mossad former director who quit from all the bloodshed." Kate smiled. "I think you'll find it suitable but we do need someone to look at what we're training with to see if there's anything we might need to upgrade in the curriculum."
"Of course. I'd be happy to. I went through college and then Secret Service training."
"Thank you, my dear." She smiled at McGee. "Those who babble at me in terms I have no clue about will be up Tuesday. We called and they're involved in a personal project."
"That's fine," McGee assured her happily. "By then the boss will tell me what standard we're upgrading the intelligence community to if they need it." She looked confused. "NCIS uses specially built software and hardware for our needs. A few other agencies can buy off the rack computers and have people who change programs to suit them better. It's why some of our systems don't talk to other agencies."
"I see. That sounds like something we want to avoid."
"By putting everyone in the country onto the same system and information server, you could streamline communications between your outlying towns and the central intelligence community, plus give them the information they need while still retaining access to the more delicate information with a passcode system."
She nodded. "I'll let you talk over that with them then tell me." He nodded, still smiling. She rang a small bronze bell and people came in carrying plates. "Here we go. A simple dinner to soothe travel weary stomachs. Thank you, Miranda. A good meal as always," she said when her plate was uncovered.
"You're welcome. I'll need a few minutes later to go over this month's upcoming menus sometime tomorrow, Paul." He nodded and she left.
The queen said grace and everyone dug in. The conversation mostly stayed to cases at NCIS and the upgrade so everyone was included and it was comfortable. The harder topics could be nagged about later, once Tony was back in his suite and Gibbs was in his room.
Tony looked at the man coming out of Gibbs' office laughing. "I think we found the local Gibbs," he told McGee quietly, earning a horrified look. "He is." He smiled at the man when he came closer. "General."
Tony growled. "You know better than that."
He smirked at him. "You're still a princess at heart, Your Highness. Otherwise you wouldn't let them fuss you into the good clothes daily."
"I have an image to maintain and you know Raphael complains when I'm in the news the least bit dirty."
He walked off laughing, nodding at that. "That's why you're the princess and not me."
Tony rolled his eyes, then shook his head quickly. "He's the only one who gets away with that."
"And Kate," McGee reminded him.
"No, I'll spank her if she calls me a princess." He gave him a look. "C'mon." They walked into the room Gibbs had taken over for his meetings. "You done yet, Boss?"
"Nearly. One more today. How were yours?"
"It went well," McGee told him. "A few odd ideas but some solid grounding for the country as a whole. I did give them ideas of where to look for more futuristic planning since they were looking at servers that were about a year old. This way they could get something current that would grow with them." He put his briefcase down. "The college has a fantastic campus," he said with a smile. "Lots of trees and students wandering around."
"It's a new semester. Plenty of them were confused," Tony told him. "I was and I've been there for a number of conferences. I keep getting two of the halls mixed up since the statue of the person they're named after is in front of another building." He flopped down in the chair. "How were my plans looking, boss?"
"Not bad, DiNozzo. Good upgrade options. Good schedule. A bit of tweaking was needed to integrate military operations but I wouldn't expect you to know that." Tony grinned. He had gotten a compliment. "Though I would've suggested to add more people."
"We have a seven percent crime rate, Boss. It's not bad enough to need a major department. Plus most of them have volunteer and part-time members as well."
"I saw those figures. What happens if there's a major incident here in the capitol?"
"Then the police call out our equivalent of the National Guard - the First and Second Cavalry units and the First Infantry division. There's enough manpower there to take over Switzerland if we needed to."
"Been in place *long* time now," Tony assured him. "Like Mary's Grandmother, Queen Bess, put it into place." Gibbs nodded at that. "Plus, we don't have many riots or things that would necessitate it. A really bad storm now and then that knocks out power but no attacks. We're like Canada. No one wants to attack us."
"It's always better to have a plan in place in case it happens than to stumble around during it, DiNozzo."
"I know. They do disaster planning and drills with the Swiss National Guard or whatever they're called. Each unit goes every other year and those three go every year. Actually, I think it's in two weeks or so."
Gibbs nodded at that. "I heard that. What about these two international felons?"
"Idiots," he said dryly. "Plain, simple idiots."
"Overconfidence is just as bad," McGee told him.
Tony looked at him. "The drug runner only has guard dogs, McGee. Not even fences." That got a gape. "He told one of the locals this area was safe." Tony smirked. "She suggested we blow them up. Her boss, the Mayor, thought it might be a good idea. Mary's told him he can't until we can get more information on him." He looked at Gibbs again. "The intelligence community locally knows when he's getting his next shipment. We plan on taking it, starting there, and ruining him. First financially and then materially, then put him in jail. Do we have problems with that?"
"Is there a good plan in place for the shipment?" Gibbs asked. Tony nodded. "With enough guards?" Tony nodded again. "You're sure?"
"The second Infantry is not happy with a drug dealer being in their country. None of us want them here, boss." He got smacked on the head. "Hey! They volunteered and their boss demanded. I did the layout." He handed over a diskette. "There, look it over, get it back to me tonight. I've got a meeting at ten with them." He stood up. "I've also got a meeting with the Ruling Council and the women they're pimping. So excuse me while I go get pretty." He strolled off, heading to change clothes and make sure his hair was brushed again. It was a bit windy outside but nothing too horrible to overcome. He jogged down to the back entrance and got into his car, heading over there. No one was going to shoot at him in his own country. He knew that and so did everyone else. He found a 'for royals only' parking spot and parked, bringing a guard huffing up to his car until he got out. He stared at him then the man whimpered. "Chill. It's a tea party thing. Relax, deep breath," Tony ordered when he kept whimpering. "Come on, you can do it." He took a deep breath to show him and the guard finally calmed down. He grinned. "You okay?" He nodded. "Good. Can I park here?"
"Yes, Majesty, please do," he said, backing away from him. "Thank you for helping me."
Tony grinned. "It's not often you run into one of us in person," Tony said gently, earning a smile. "Just relax. They're introducing me to many people today." That got a nod. "How many women?"
Tony sighed and walked inside, going to fix his hair before being announced and let into the room. He spotted someone he knew immediately once he was in there, nodding at her shocked look. He smiled and kissed the cheek of the Contessa. "Sorry I'm a bit late. I had to get pretty after the briefing this morning. Traffic's backed up on the north road again because of that rockfall."
"Is it being taken care of?"
"Slowly but it's being cleared. Has anyone looked at the stability issues?" She nodded. "That's fine." He walked off with her, letting her introduce him to everyone, including the one he knew. "Countess."
"Special Agent DiNozzo. You're the crown prince?" He grinned and nodded. "How did that happen? You didn't seem to have manners when I ran into you last time."
Tony smirked evilly. "My mother is Queen Mary's cousin." She moaned. "And I did have manners, Countess. You simply chose to ignore good suggestions and then threw a fit when it didn't work out the way you wanted." He grinned even more evilly. "By the way, my *whole* team is in to help me with the upgrade situation. I do believe the Council was talking with Gibbs this morning?" he asked the Contessa, getting a nod.
"Do you put up with Special Agent Gibbs and his growling?" the Countess asked her.
"He was very nice to us. I'm sure he only growls in dangerous situations."
"And when I'm goofing off on paperwork days," Tony agreed, making her laugh. They continued on, going to talk to the others they hadn't yet. Someone came rushing in and Tony watched the page tell one of the old men on the Council something. He coughed. "Should I worry?" he called quietly.
"The shipment was early but the team was already ready and did stop it. One did get injured. No severe casualties on our side, Highness."
Tony nodded. "Why was it so early?"
"The driver said he had heard about a rockslide and wanted to make sure he made the rendevous on time. He could always wait and sleep in the truck."
Tony smiled. "Phase two is going?"
"Just started, Prince," the page said, nodding at him. Tony smiled. "Should I bring back orders?"
"Go tell Gibbs that message and fill him in on the specifics. I doubt he had time to go over it yet." That got a nod and the page ran off. He strolled over there. "Within a few days we'll have that cancerous blight out of the countryside. Then we'll get to work on the other one." That got a smile. "The General and Gibbs got along very well. They were both laughing a lot during their meeting. The General even laughed as he came out."
"Oh, dear. I fear that can't be good," he said grimly. That general was known for being a dour, driven man with little sense of humor outside of calling Tony a Princess. He sighed and rubbed his forehead. "We'll deal with it I'm sure." Tony nodded. "Is he content?"
"As far as I know. I haven't heard anything different. Have you?"
"Now and then I hear rumors of discontent because you live over there."
Tony gave him a look. "The work I do is important and I've learned a lot to help our people, Sir Vale. This is what calls to me, even when other things may need my attention. Even when it's my turn I'm still going to have a very active hand in the upgraded system and the local intelligence community. It's who I am."
"I know. We don't mind but some of the commoners do."
"Then we'll let them get to know me better," he decided, grinning at his shocked look. "It can only ease fears." He went to get some tea and went back to talking to others. It was what was wanted of him. Even though he didn't like any of the women in the room. None of them could even hope to understand being driven by a dream or a reason to do what he did. Some had good sense. Some were very nice. None of them could ever understand him.
The Ruling Council met later that night, a private, closed meeting. Sir Vale looked at the lone female. "You tried."
"I don't know what he's looking for. They were all very beautiful. Very suitable."
"He's going to marry for love," Sir Vale reminded her. "He has an ideal woman in his head. I know he mentioned to one that not many of the women understood his job, much less why he did it. She agreed she couldn't either."
The Contessa sighed and nodded. "There is that problem. Could he settle for something less?"
"He told me earlier he'd still have his hand in the intelligence community even when he took over."
She grimaced. "He'll be fairly busy."
"His cousin isn't," one of the other men noted. "There's not much that their forefathers and mothers haven't already contemplated and handled." He looked at the others. "What about the female on his team? Surely she understands him some. They've been heard teasing each other horribly around the castle late at night."
She shook her head. "She's driven and she sees him like family, not as a future or potential lover. Though I have heard she's suitable in everything but lineage." She leaned back. "Has anyone seen anyone who might be suitable as our future Queen?"
The man at the other end of the table cleared his throat. "There is one that our Prince has shown affection for. He even lets him correct him and affectionately pet him now and then." They all stared. "That boss of his. Gibbs I believe his name is?" They all nodded. "He's been seen to swat our Prince on the head many times when he's in a playful mood. He puts up with his playful mood. He clearly cares for the boy. He puts up with him. I'm not so sure there isn't longing on at least one's part. Tony did say that Gibbs ordered him not to die when he had the plague. You can see he followed it."
"That would show care," the Contessa agreed. "What about the other qualifications?"
"He's former military and now he's the same sort of agent our Prince is. He trained him how to be an agent instead of an officer. He's known him for years now. He's stayed at NCIS longer than he has any other post, even though his life has been in danger many times."
"What of his background?" Sir Vale asked.
That got a smirk. "He's not of noble lineage. He's been married four times. He had a child once but she was murdered with his first wife." They all looked upset with that. "He does drink some bourbon and he does have a boat in his basement. Our intelligence people had nothing but praise for him. He seems to take over investigations when necessary, even from other agencies. A few of them don't like him for that fact. He stands for what he believes in. He's a benefit to the country."
"What of heirs?" the contessa asked. "That is the reason for his upcoming, necessary marriage."
"Heirs can be produced with a surrogate," Sir Vale reminded her. She nodded that was true. "It's not illegal. I'm worried about that age gap. We'll have another situation like our present Queen has."
The other old man coughed and shook his head. "She has someone she favors. They've been doing polls about her remarrying a native person, someone everyone already knew. I know that Tony pressed her to do so on the plane. Said she deserved some happiness of her own."
That got some smile around the table. "Then we'll consider him?" she asked.
They all nodded. "We'll consider him and see if Gibbs does have feelings in that manner," Sir Vale agreed. "I'll be seeing him in a few days."
"I'll talk to Tony about it. I don't know why he didn't tell me."
"It's clear he hasn't acknowledged it yet. He's still dating women in DC," the other man noted. "Many women. He really should stop before he catches something." They stood up. "Then we're in agreement?" They all nodded. "Good. Then let's head home. I know my wife wants some new gossip." He strode out, heading for his limo. The others followed after putting up any tea cups they had been using. It was a good plan of action for them. Once they knew where feelings lay, they could make further plans.
Gibbs looked up from reading the paper when the man sat across from him. "You called?" he asked quietly. They were in the palace library and the Queen was reading on the other side of it in a little hidden nook. He had told Paul he'd watch over her for the hour he'd be gone with his doctor's appointment.
"I did, Jethro. May I use your name?" Sir Vale asked. Gibbs nodded. "We, the Ruling Council, have come to a point of quandary."
"Tony and his fairly necessary upcoming marriage." Gibbs nodded once. "You see, without him having a suitable heir, everything we believe in is in jeopardy." Gibbs nodded again. "But we feel his main focus isn't on someone of breeding capabilities to put it delicately."
"He found one he liked?"
"I believe he may like someone of his own gender," he said calmly. "Which we're absolutely prepared for I assure you. We have plans in place to certify a good surrogate of decent enough birth and breeding. We would expect at least two heirs to come of it, just because we don't want to end up having to search again anytime this millennia. When the Queen's daughter died we were nearly panicking. Tony's mother was a good choice but her husband does not want to conform to our ethical rules and made her fairly unsuitable. Since we don't believe in divorce..." Gibbs nodded again. "We were wondering if such a problem would exist on your end."
"You mean if he were in a committed relationship and working at NCIS?" He shrugged a bit. "It's not unheard of but he can't tell anyone. It's the 'don't ask-don't tell' rule basically." That got a nod. "Do I know this person?" The man gave him a look. "What?"
"We believe you may *be* this person, Jethro." Gibbs burst out laughing. "It was fairly clear to us. You do care for him as shown by your attitude when he got so very ill last year. The fact that Tony hasn't left yet when the other places he only stayed a few years. The fact that he listens to you when he won't anyone else. The fact you can correct him."
"He sees me as a mentor, Sir Vale."
He smiled. "We'll see how it plays out. The Council has agreed that if you do care for him in that way it would be wholly acceptable to us and be very supportable publically as well. Tony is much loved by most of the public. There's a few who don't like that he wasn't raised here but that can happen. We do know that he'll have to move here soon, correct? That it's important and has to happen before the queen retires?"
"I'm sure he realizes that," Gibbs agreed. "I know he joked on the plane and said the only reason he hadn't was his movie company wouldn't ship to him over here."
He smiled. "Tony's sense of humor is quite strong and has gotten him into trouble a few times." Gibbs nodded. "Around the office?"
"A number of times."
He got a brighter smile. "If you would consider the proposition, we would be most thrilled, Jethro. He said he wanted someone who could understand him and the reason he went into police work in the first place. Most of the women we've introduced him to recently couldn't understand why he worked at all."
"Much less why he worked in such a dangerous, hard, occasionally soul-sucking field?" Gibbs suggested. That got a nod. "I don't know his particular reasons but I understand the drive that he brings to the field. I admire him for it. I wish he had more focus some days but I do admire his potential." That got another bright, happy smile. "It doesn't mean I've suddenly given up on redheads for him."
Sir Vale shifted. "Jethro, with the queen being her age, it's even more important Tony have an heir sometime very soon. If he can't produce a wife within a year, we'll have to start pressing for a political union, which would not suit him and the wife and child would be miserable, as would the country watching him be miserable."
"I doubt he'd go for it."
"For the good of everyone, he'd have to. We have to have an heir. There has to be someone to take over if he should get hurt, or worse, killed, working with you." Gibbs grimaced but nodded that he understood that. "If the choices are you, a political marriage with a woman he'll grow to hate, or the country falling apart, which would he choose?"
"I don't know," Gibbs admitted. "I'll ask him."
"Please do. We don't want to pressure you but if there is even a shred of feeling between you it's best for everyone if you step forward. Even if you think you can't help him with this, you are well-versed in the job's requirements already. All you have to do is learn to smile and wave more often." He stood up. "If you know of a woman he's serious about we'll need to know that as well. It really is bad that he has such high expectations."
"That's one field where you should," Gibbs told him. "That's why I have three ex-wives. I couldn't live up to theirs."
"We do know," he said, staring at him. Gibbs quirked an eyebrow up. "We weren't about to let you near sensitive information without a background check, Jethro. We're nice, not naive." He smiled and walked off.
Jethro shook his head quickly. "That's just strange," he muttered, going back to his paper, determined not to think about it for the moment.
Mary came out of hiding. "You know, the pitiful thing is that they'd expect Tony to wear a gown for the wedding," she said dryly. She watched as Gibbs shook his head quickly again then shudder. "Sorry, didn't mean to give you a horrible mental image." She smiled and leaned down to kiss him on the head. "It was clear to more than them, Jethro. The same as it's clear on both sides." She walked off, going back to her little hidden area.
"I still prefer redheads," he muttered, going back to his paper. Kate bounced in and he looked at her. "What happened?"
"I just found the most perfect dress at a great price from a designer I adore. I'm having a good day."
"Good for you. Go finish tracing the links on that drug runner and then start on the arms dealer."
"I've already done that, Gibbs. What crawled up you this time?"
Tony strolled in and grinned. "Someone decided that head smacks really were a sign of affection and adoration."
"Mary said someone would make you a fitting gown too," Gibbs told him dryly.
"I know. I got asked if I wanted cream or white." Gibbs gave him a horrified look. He nodded. "Somehow this decision has spread." He shrugged. "I don't know, boss. I'm figuring something out."
"They said you had a year or they'd have to find a political spouse so there was an heir."
"Which I'd hate, the kid would hate, and his mother would really hate when I hung out somewhere other than with her all the time." He grimaced. "I'm working on it. It's not my fault I have an expectation of finding someone who likes the same things I do and likes me as well." He walked off pouting. "Kristen, can you make me some cocoa?" he called as he walked. "They're trying to marry me off to the highest bidder again." By the time he reached the kitchen a large mug of cocoa with whipped cream, just how he liked it, was waiting on him. "Thank you, Kristen. You too, Collin." He took his cocoa outside to sip and sit under some of the trees. It was weak hiding but someone would need to find him soon anyway. They always did when he was here. Maybe he should spend the night at his apartment in town. No, not with the other bust about to happen. That's when he decided he was going on it. This was too important to risk. He finished his cocoa and got up, heading up to change and grab his vest, then down to his personal car so he could head off and join the local cops dealing with the issues. Six hours of driving later he walked into the station, getting some horrified looks. "I'm still a cop," he said firmly. "And I'm going with you. Not like I didn't plan it, people."
The Chief looked at him. "I'm not going to be hanged if you get hurt, Majesty."
"So I won't get hurt! I manage it all the time at NCIS. Now, do we want me in that unfilled secondary point position or the primary point you weren't sure you could fill?"
"I'm taking point," one of the inspector said. "You take secondary. That way you have cover if you get shot at."
"I have my vest," Tony assured him. "It's gotten me through a number of busts. When are we going?"
"Two hours," the Chief said, looking like he wanted to complain. Tony stared at him. "You really shouldn't."
"I have more time in than you do," he said quietly. "Even if I do have a duty, this is part of it. If these are my people, I should be willing to fight for them. Huh?" That a grimace, a nod, and the Chief going to take some antacid before calling the people higher up to let them know he didn't need more help. His staffing problem had worked itself out.
Mary looked around at dinner. "Where is Tony, Jethro?"
Gibbs looked at the empty seat then at her. "He left the library earlier demanding cocoa in a begging whine and I haven't seen him since." He wiped his mouth off. "Let me check his room." He hurried off to do that, knowing, just knowing at some soul deep level, that his senior agent was off doing something stupid. He found the open bag and looked inside. "Fuck," he muttered, going back down there. "He went on the raid tonight," he announced. Mary dropped her fork and knife, gaping at him. "His vest and sidearm are gone." He sat down and took another bite. Everyone stared at him. "Tony planned the assault tonight. He's been on plenty of them, people. He knows what he's doing and if he's injured I'm going to kick his ass. He'll be fine." He ate another bite calmly, looking at Kate. "Did you look over those plans?"
"I did. There were a few open spots. The local guys didn't have a good secondary point person if they put their usual one in the primary point. Tony likes secondary point, Gibbs. That's probably where he is."
Gibbs mentally traced the plan then nodded. "It would suit him. It's his usual style too." He ate another bite, nodding. "Your cooks are better than any I've ever tasted, ma'am."
"Thank you, Jethro. Do you think he'll be in danger?"
"I think Tony's got a saint's luck to get out of bad situations," Kate told her. "After all, he only had a fifteen percent chance of survival with the plague and he lived."
Mary calmed herself and nodded. "When my cousin gets back in the morning, after you've spanked him, Jethro, please bring him to me for my own punishment?"
He nodded. "I can do that." He ate another bite, looking at McGee, who shook his head. "Problems?"
"Something I heard earlier, boss. Rumors that the people weren't happy with Tony. Is that why..." Gibbs shook his head. "You're sure?"
"I am. He knows why they're not happy. Mostly because he's an American by birth and raising." That got a nod. "He's working on it according to him."
"That could help," Kate agreed. "He needs some good PR to counter that if that's the reason."
"It usually is," Mary agreed. "Most everyone likes Tony."
"I've noticed that around the office," Kate said with a grin. "Think it's something special in his aftershave?"
The Queen laughed. "No, I think it's that little boy's smile and charm. He oozes it at everyone until you're either very fond or very tired of him."
"Sometimes in the same minute," Paul told her. She nodded that was true. "Gibbs, need straps?"
"No, he'll stand still while I yell. He knows if he runs it'll be worse when I catch him." He ate another bite and got seconds on the meat. "This is really good. Your cooks are excellent."
"You know, Tony's learned a lot from them," Mary said casually.
Gibbs gave her a look. "I've seen him burn brownies."
She smiled. "They helped with that problem as well, Jethro. Eat, people. We've got to manage whatever fallout comes from Tony doing this in the morning." They all dug in and most got seconds. For some it was going to be a very long night.
Gibbs stared at Tony the next morning when he caught him sneaking into his suite. "You good?"
"A bit sore. I managed to fall down a flight of stairs. Better me than the other guy. He had a broken arm by then. He had a hidden robotic security force." He shrugged then winced. "I need a hot shower."
"Everyone's decided you need paddled." He stood up, coming over to look at him. "Vest?" Tony held it up for him to see. No new bulletholes. "No guns?"
"Robots, boss. Really strong robots that thought we were toys. My team took them on while the others executed the find and arrest warrant. One of them took the easy way to shut them off, cutting the power, and it sent them into a frenzy. Which was when I fell down the stairs. No one warned me the lights were going out and I tripped, then got shoved. They finally got them turned off and it was nicer."
"Uh-huh." He stared at him. "Injuries?"
"Bruises, sore shoulder." He grinned. "I'm fine, boss, really. It was necessary. He needed another person. Even he admitted it afterward. Of course, he's getting his collarbone set today." He winced as he moved his shoulder. "Can I go shower?"
"Fine. Then Mary wants you."
"Of course she does," he sighed, heading that way. "Anything else decided while I was gone?"
"Yeah, you should wear cream and silver silk," he taunted. Tony whimpered, going to take a hot, soothing shower. He came out in a towel and Gibbs pointed at the newly arrived queen. "He said he only had bruises and a wrenched shoulder."
She came over to look him over, then slapped him across the face. "Do not do such stupid things again!" She stomped off.
"It was necessary!" Tony called after her. "They needed more people, I wasn't doing anything last night! Besides, it's what I'm trained to do!" He slammed the door and looked at Gibbs. "Are you going to throw a wife's fit too?"
"No. Though I was told to spank you."
Tony smirked. "I don't like those sort of games, boss. Not into pain." He walked into his bedroom again, going to get dressed. He came out impeccably dressed and wearing new shoes. He was walking funny in them. "Have to break them in sometime." He walked past him. "Breakfast?"
"Same place as usual, DiNozzo." He followed him down the stairs to the dining area. Then he got out of the way as the Ruling Council and others started to scream at him.
Kate handed him a plate and a mug. "Garden?"
"We don't leave people behind, Kate."
"Gibbs, they're not going to kill him. We can leave him in their custody for now and come back for him later, when they won't expect us to mount a rescue."
"Fat chance," Paul told her. "Sit down before you give the rest of us headaches! The Queen does not need this!" he shouted. They all stopped and stared at him. "Thank you! Screaming does not aid in digestion. Nor does it help any of the rumors going around! Sit and discuss this like civilized beings!" He sat down and handed the tea to his boss. "Tea, ma'am?"
"Thank you, Paul. Well said as well." She stared at Tony. "Even though you are trained for it and you have done this job numerous times before, it is still dangerous. You are not allowed to do dangerous things until there is an heir."
"I'm not quitting my job." He stared her down. "They need me."
"So do your people."
"Who have me. I was protecting them too last night." She grimaced at that, her lips pursing. "You look like McGonagall when you do that." She cracked a faint smile. "I was doing what I was trained for. They didn't have enough people. I planned that assault. I should have been up there days ago helping them with it and I wasn't because you guys got nervous. Accept me as I am, people. I am an agent at NCIS. I get shot at, hit on the head, knocked out, tied up, kidnaped, and injured. Every agent does. There's a reason my team has the highest solve rates and we get handed the hardest cases. I'm proud of that and I'm not giving it up. So suck it up. Yes, I went on that assault. If I hadn't been there they would've been overrun by the missed security system." He sat down. "Probie, in my car is the file with the details on his purely robotic security system. Can you brief someone on it in case it shows up later?"
"I can." He went to get it and came back reading it over. "They went into a frenzy when the power got cut?"
"Yup. Threw the Chief down the stairs. Threw most of us down the stairs. Fortunately we were the distraction team."
"Secondary point," Kate said. Tony nodded. "That's what we expected. You okay?"
"Sore shoulder, a few bruises. The robot threw me down the stairs, Kate. The other guys are all in the hospital. I kept a few from being killed." She nodded at that, sipping her coffee. He looked at his cousin again. "I love you. I love them. Not enough to give up my job."
"You could take a diplomatic position," Sir Vale offered.
"I like taking scum off the streets," Tony said firmly. "It's why I do what I do. So that others aren't hurt by idiots like that gun dealer. I'm sorry but a diplomatic position would make me break out in hives. I'd have nothing to do half the time and at least half the duties would bore me to tears. Especially all the teas. That's not who I am."
"No, it's not," Gibbs agreed. "You still have to be able to strike a balance."
"I'm not going on permanent desk duty, boss. I'll leave NCIS first. I hear Miami's hiring and so is Fornell."
Gibbs looked at him. "What's your timetable for moving back?"
"Two years. About when someone gets pushy about me taking a command spot." He sipped his coffee and grimaced. "Decaf?" Kate snickered. "Kate!" He drank the rest of that quickly and got some real coffee for himself. Then he sat down again. "Are we done with the fits, people?" They all glared at him, including his cousin. "You knew I was a cop when you found me. I made it very clear then I'm not giving it up. Not then, not now, not in the future. I'll still be helping from a more distant position when I'm here officially all the time." That got some nods and a few frowns. "Tough. Deal with it. This is who I am." He stared down the members of the Ruling Council, who all looked away. "Also, as much as I love the boss, it's in a friendship way. Not in a toss him down and have sex until we're both brainless way."
Mary coughed. "That's a bit graphic for breakfast, Tony, dear."
"Sorry, Cousin." He looked at them. "I'm working on the woman issue." He went back to eating quickly then left again. Everyone there had his cellphone number if they really needed him to do something. He had to check on those other cops. A few had been taken to the local university's hospital for advanced treatments.
Gibbs looked at them. "You've just made him stubborn. Good luck getting him to back down."
Mary snorted. "They won't. You and I both know that, Jethro." She sipped her tea. "Now, we can use this to show that Tony does care for his people. He came in when villains had moved into the country and brought us help to eliminate them plus make our own police and intelligence people stronger. Even the ones who don't like him being American will see that he's trying at the very least." They all nodded, finishing their meal and heading out to let that story get out. "I'm sorry you had to see that, Jethro."
"Not a problem. We've had the same discussion a few times with Tony when he did what he felt was necessary instead of following orders." She smiled and nodded, digging in again. He looked at Kate. "Get me what you have on the other person today." She nodded. "McGee, I want the information on the update, in English. Not in geek."
"Yes, boss." He dug in so he could finish up then hurried off to get that for him. Kate wasn't far behind him. They needed to eliminate that other threat before something worse happened, like he bulked up his security on them.
Tony smiled at the reporter that had managed to corner him while he was getting lunch. "Yes, dear?" They were in her studio. She had asked very nicely for a new interview and it was one of his duties, plus would make some of the discontent about him ease. "What did you need to know?"
"We've heard that you went on the assault last night against that drug dealer. Is that true, Highness?"
"First, please use my name, Marrian." She smiled at that. "And yes, it is true. I was there. I filled in on one of the point positions. I'm glad I did, more people would've been hurt worse if I hadn't been there. Especially with his strange security system."
She nodded. "I heard a number of the officers got hurt."
"Mostly from the security system. Someone had made him security robots and they liked to bat at us and toss us down stairs. My team took over diversion for the primary team so they could get in and get the people we had to arrest. That's why we took the worse damage."
"Shouldn't you have been on the other team?"
He grinned. "I'm very annoying when I want to be. That was more handy this time." She chuckled and nodded. "In truth, no one knew about the robots so we couldn't plan ahead for it. With as many of us that got thrown down the stairs, we're lucky it wasn't a higher casualty rate."
"Did the Queen know?"
"Not until I was already gone. I made the plans, I should've been there all along to help. It's part of the job."
She nodded at that. "The same as if I planned something I should be there to see it through."
"Exactly." He smiled. "It took a bit of yelling and huffing to point that out but they did eventually get the point."
She smiled. "I've heard rumors that you've been interviewing young women of good birth?"
"The Council was worried that I wasn't meeting nice, suitable women. They arranged for a tea and talking time so I could meet some women they liked." She smirked at that, shaking her head. "They were mostly very nice, very pleasant young women. I could easily see chatting with them again."
"But not romantically?" she pressed.
He shook his head. "I need someone who understands me and why I'm driven to do what I do, Marrian. Most of them have a cause or two they feel very strongly about but none of them got down to the point of understanding that I'm going to keep being an officer, even after I ascend. Even when I'm wearing the crown, I'm going to be butting into serious criminal situations, or into the intelligence community if they need me to. Whichever needs me is going to have open access to me. The same as the Ruling Council can't understand *why* I do what I do, none of them could."
"Most of them don't work," she pointed out.
"Very true, and I've been working for a very long time. It makes me see a lot more of what the average person has to deal with. I have to worry about making my rent off my paycheck, the bills off my paycheck, all that. I don't live on a royal stipend. I don't go on wild shopping trips unless Raphael comes over to nag me and drag me off. Though he does do that about every other year," he admitted with a sheepish grin. She patted his hand. "I know it worries my cousin and the Council that I'm not married and working hard to produce an heir. I'm sorry I'm so picky," he said, staring at her. "But I've got to be a bit picky. There's more to living with me than being of good birth. Ask anyone who knows me, I have my annoying days and they're usually when I'm bored. If whoever I marry doesn't understand that and me, there's going to be a lot of fights. Which isn't good for any marriage, especially not when you're in control of a country."
"Speaking of boredom, I know you're a big fan of movies."
"Film noire especially," he agreed with a grin.
"I know that the Queen's been approached about a film using some of our back country. I've also heard that some people are uneasy about that. That the Hollywood types bring problems and drugs."
"I would hope that they'd respect us better than that. Most of the time those ones that cause problems don't get jobs, especially not jobs that take them out of the country. I do know that the queen has made mention of that to the people who came to talk to her. They've assured her that the people will be following all local laws or they will be arrested. Mostly I think the shooting will keep to themselves. They might come to do some shopping and things, or maybe look at the university, but if there's problems we do have legal right to complain and stop them if it's a drugs or illegal activity."
She smiled. "That's good to know. What about the fees?"
"She worked it out so we're getting an equivalent amount to what Vancouver gets. They do a lot of tv shoots up there so she's had someone in the industry to advise her through the negotiations. That money will create some jobs out that way, in an area where it's a lot of farmers mostly. A few small towns but not a lot of people where they want to go. As I understood it they needed untouched and unspoiled woods." She nodded at that. "So it'll create some local jobs while they do that and if they behave well and it's not a huge problem, nothing that can't be solved, nothing like spoiled brats, those things, then we'll see on a case by case basis about any future ones. This is really a trial."
"I can see that. But we're sure there won't be many problems?"
"The country's laws were given to the director. He's told the stars I'm sure. Even if they scoff because we're such a small country; if they break them they're going to find themselves abused of that notion very quickly. I won't put up with that here."
"What about that other criminal, Tony?"
"We're working on it right now. Saying anything more might give away what we have." He kissed the back of her hand. "Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go calm down someone who thinks I'm marrying a teammate." He smiled. "Anything else?"
"No, Tony. I thank you for taking the time to talk to me."
"I honor reasonable requests." He winked and got up, heading back to his car, finding Paul next to it. "Mary's doing what?" he asked quietly.
"Watching her soap." He opened the door. "Going to check on them again?"
"No. The Chief said it went better than he expected when he saw the robots. We did what we could to minimize the damage." He grinned. "I was thinking about going up there to fill in for a few days."
"Fat chance, Tony. In the car." Tony got into the car, rolling his eyes. Paul got into the passenger's seat. "Home?"
"Mine or the palace?"
"The palace. Thank you for sticking up for the shoot as well."
"Not a problem. I think it'll bring good notice." He checked traffic then pulled out and headed back to the palace. "What happened?"
"There was a small protest this morning about Americans taking over."
"Huh." He grimaced. "Did we talk to them?"
"They didn't want to talk." He shrugged. "It was only ten people."
"So that means probably a hundred in the movement," Tony said thoughtfully. "We could announce another step in the upgrade going on."
"We could. Mary was going to think about that and draft something today while watching soaps." They pulled in through the front gate, letting him point. "See?"
Tony looked. "Half of those people aren't native by the clothes."
"I know, which is worrying. I don't think we need a power play from another country."
"We're pretty well insulated from that, Paul. We don't have a lot of foreign dependence. It'll be fine." He parked in the garage and got out, heading inside. "I'm back!" he bellowed once he stepped inside. A maid handed him a small stack of messages as she walked past him. "Thanks, Natheene. Saw your sister at the station. I'm sure she'd say hi from behind her makeup puffs." He walked off reading, grimacing at some. "What do the clothiers want to meet about?" he asked when he ran into Raphael.
"Your future wedding. They'd like some advance warning and some planning time."
Tony looked at him. "I haven't even found anyone suitable yet!"
"They know that. They know it'll be within a few years. This way they know if you prefer some fabrics over others."
Tony shrugged. "Doesn't the girl pick the colors?"
"Probably," he agreed. "Or you could. There is a fine royal tradition to use a few colors." Tony just nodded at that. "It's tomorrow."
"Sure." He walked off, him following. "What else is going on?"
"There's a delegate here from Saudi."
Tony detoured to the meeting room, finding his cousin and the Prince talking. "Highness."
He looked at him then did a double-take. "You're an American. I've seen you in DC!"
"I'm an agent at NCIS," he agreed smugly, grinning a bit. "By the way, how is the young woman you ran over?" He backed off a step, going pale. "Am I clear about the lack of trouble you'll be causing us?"
"Of course. I have no intention of causing trouble on this visit."
"Thank you." He looked at his cousin. "Marrian cornered me. I let her do a short interview. She asked about the assault, what I'm looking for in a woman, and a few other things. It went well. I didn't even trip over my tongue this time," he finished with a grin. "Including the shoot. I did uphold it and point out we could arrest any brats that caused us problems." She nodded and smiled. "So it'll probably be on later if they didn't submit it for approval. I didn't say she had to." He shrugged and walked off again, Raphael still following him. "Gibbs, there's a diplomatic visit in," he called, hearing the Prince shudder. He smiled at Kate when he ran into her. "That same prince that ran over our Petty Officer."
"Meeting room. Don't cause a stink. He remembered me," he said with a fond smirk. She smirked back. "So, now what?"
"The upgrade is being announced, Gibbs is going over what's going on, and he needs your notes from the Intelligence upgrade." Tony nodded. She handed over a note. "Your room phone rang and the boss answered it. He said at least this time it's not someone calling you spanky." She walked off again.
Tony read it then snorted, putting it into his pocket. "I'll deal with that later." He walked on, heading up to his suite to get those notes, Raphael still following him. A few more messages and he found why. He turned to look at him. "Why is it imperative that I figure out what sort of woman I want as a surrogate? We're not sure I'm marrying someone who can't breed."
"Just in case, Tony. That way they don't have to worry about such things."
"Fine. Smart, sense of humor, beautiful, native, and leggy. My type." That got a nod and he walked off. Tony grabbed the file and headed down to where Gibbs held his meetings, handing over the file. "There you go, boss." He flopped down, going back to the rest of the messages. He handed one over. "Should've went to you, not me." He got to the last one and put it into his pocket too. Then he looked at him. "Okay. What did you need to know?"
"I was getting lunch when the reporter cornered me. Short interview, a few questions. She's good at it. I've given her interviews before."
"That's fine. The officers from last night?"
"Mostly fine. A few'll need longer-term care for things like broken bones. No one died. Only one gunshot on the extraction team. One fractured vertebrae on mine. He's local and I checked on them. I was thinking about ducking up there to handle the local office until they had enough people back." Gibbs shook his head. "No?"
"No, they asked for and got some temps in. Don't worry about that."
"I'm sure. If you did that your cousin threatened to hang you." He handed over something. "Is that what's going on?"
Tony looked then shook his head, pointing at his folder. "This is almost two years ago, boss." He looked at him. "They're behind? They didn't say they were behind."
"They might not be. That's the last place they had progress reports. The person they sent admitted they weren't doing progress reports at the moment." That got a nod. "Too much going on."
"Diplomatic visits require a lot of work and background checks and so did we. Plus that conference meant they had to do some work too." That got a nod. "How's the college's program looking?"
"Kate said it looks good but she had a few suggestions. Including getting them someone to teach about biometrics and hacking. She gave them someone to call at Quantico to see what they used." That got a nod. "Other than that, the upgrade's been going pretty smoothly." Tony smiled at that compliment, it was his baby. "No one seems to be too upset by it."
"It's for everyone's benefit. People saw that when the line upgrade led to better phones and better sound through the lines. Plus there's a mass computerization program going on to link all the libraries in the country and the university's together. Plus putting 'net terminals in all them. I'm more worried about the protestors outside but they looked foreign. Is Doug still here?"
"He is." He pointed. "He went to get some coffee."
"Thanks, boss." He got up and went to find him, finding him coming back talking with Paul. "Who's behind the protest?"
"The majority of the movement is foreign born, the same as you are," Doug said, sipping his coffee. He ran a hand over his dark, shaved head. "It was started by someone who was foreign born. I saw the protest. We don't think they'll do anything."
"Would it help if the surrogate was native?"
"Probably." He grinned. "Thinking about the Council's plan again?"
"No, but I got asked to make that plan." He shrugged. "I can easily put that part around if it would help."
"It probably would. They're worried about the instability it could cause from what we can tell. We don't have someone inside but we have been monitoring their web traffic and those outlets. So far it appears pretty calm. We'll have to see."
Tony nodded. "That's good. Keep me informed, even if I'm not here."
"Of course. When are you moving back?"
"Probably within two years."
"Decent. That'll solve most of the problems. Going to your apartment at that point?"
"Probably. Just so everyone has a harder time finding me." He grinned and accepted the new message from the page. "Thanks, Reggie." He read it and groaned. "The Prince is causing shit." He walked off with Doug behind him. "You sure?"
"Yes, I'm sure I need to be there. My bosses will want to know." He took a drink of his coffee as they walked into the room with the Queen, Prince, and Gibbs. "Highness," he said with a bow.
"Doug. How are you today?"
"I'm doing quite well, My Queen. Yourself?"
"Just fine." She smiled. "We will need an official briefing about that other action," she noted to Gibbs.
"Of course. We'll have it ready by tonight when the scouting is done." She nodded at that, smiling a bit. "DiNozzo."
"Boss." He looked at the Prince. "You have a problem with me being the queen's cousin and heir?" He got glared at. Tony simply stared back. "I have been for a few years now, Highness. I may not be here all the time at the moment but I do keep my hand in and I do know what's going on around here." He backed off. "The same as I'm pretty sure you know the subject of our discontent by the border." He went pale. "Did you perhaps stop up there or were you planning on stopping on your way back?"
"I do not know that man."
"We'll see," Doug told him. He smiled. The man glared. "Sorry, Doug Reynolds. Formerly of MI-5." The prince backed off at that. He looked at the queen. "Is there a problem with the new agreements?"
"Not really. They're paying a courtesy call since they heard our heir was in."
Tony nodded. "I am. I'll probably be in for another month and a half too." She beamed at that. "What royal traditions for the wedding? I need to know what the clothiers are going to be asking about tomorrow."
"There's a few things. Most of them have wanted silver somewhere in the wedding to signify the royal house," Doug told him. Tony gave him an odd look. "We've got to have guards there so we'll need to plan things so they fit in. It's for your own security, Tony."
"I know. Brief me later, someone." They all nodded at that. He looked at the Prince again. "Did you have any other doubts about me being an heir?" He shook his head. "You sure? If you want, we can pull out the family tree for you and everything. If I remember right it's on a tapestry in the meeting room that we do press announcements in."
"No, that's fine," he said, regaining his calm. He smiled at the Queen. "My father wished to go over the agreements for our oil again sometime soon. That way there's no lag when they run out in three years."
"I can see that happening in about a year," she agreed. "Once all the silly fluctuations end." He nodded at that. "Then we'll gladly hold a small conference to do that. It might even be around the wedding if we can talk Tony into it."
"Business and weddings are bad combinations unless you're the Godfather," Tony quipped dryly, taking Doug's coffee to drink. Then he handed it back. "I see someone made you Gibbs coffee." He grinned at his boss. "Need me?"
"To finish going over the upgrade, yes, DiNozzo."
"That's fine. Mary?"
"Go ahead, dear. He wanted to make sure you were really the heir."
"Oh, I am." He walked off with Gibbs behind him, smirking at him then at Doug. "Interesting."
Doug paused to listen then he snickered. "She asked how he had run into you."
"He ran over a Petty Officer and we threw him in jail," Gibbs told him. "Then the diplomats stepped in so we ended up putting him personally on the plane and giving her family their name and address so they could sue them."
"I was most happy to deliver that note after the funeral. They had been complaining they couldn't do anything with the murderer of their daughter. That let them know they could sue him for wrongful death. They were happier about that. Did they settle yet, boss?"
"Not that I've heard."
"Good. I hope they soak them for millions and keep him from the US so he can't do it again." They walked into Gibbs' office and sat down again. "Okay. Progress reports, Doug?"
"Sorry, Tony. We've been doing it verbally mostly." He handed over a CD. "This is where we are. McGee looked over the computer system and called it about a year out of date at the moment but what he suggested is good for another five years and then we can update the servers as planned anyway." That got a nod. "Can we steal him?"
"Only if people get their way and make me marry Gibbs," Tony quipped.
"That's a bad thought," Doug decided, finishing his coffee.
"The strange thing is the General came out laughing after meeting with him," Tony told him.
Doug whimpered. "You two get along?"
"We understood each other very well," Gibbs assured him dryly. "We done?" They nodded. "Frat brothers?" Tony and Doug both grinned and nodded. "Good to know." He got down to the plans for the upgrade and where they were, suggesting some areas that they could get into because he could get them access into certain FBI databases and some CIA databases without too much begging. Sharing information helped everyone stop the criminals faster.
Tony walked into his personal office, which he hardly ever used, and paused at the woman standing there. "Yes?" he asked, moving to sit behind the desk. "You requested a meeting?"
She smiled and curtseyed. "Highness, I'm the one the Council has chosen to be your surrogate should you need one." He gaped at that. She laughed. "I've had three wonderful, healthy children of my own already. I'm around your own age. Two of my children have attended the Academy in town based on test scores, one in the ninety-fifth percentile. I was born and bred here, plus I have a long lineage that hits three councilors, including Sir Vale."
"How did they choose you?"
"A request was made and though hundreds of women answered it was decided that I was the best choice out of them." He nodded slowly. "If I cannot, then my sister has also agreed. She's had two children. Both of our husbands have agreed and our families are very stable. Her husband is related to another member of the Council but is half from out of the country lines." He smiled at that. "This way the child would be of the best breeding and stock, even if you did decide to do an nucleus switch with one side to make it yours and your spouse's child truly."
"And if we don't need you?"
"Then there's no harm and I've had a good adventure. Plus my last daughter gets a two- point advantage on her Academy test. Not that I think she'll need it but that way she's got a better position." He nodded at that. "That's the fee I asked for being chosen. Should I have one for you I'll be getting a maintenance check for the months that I have the child with my family. The same as my sister will. Her older daughter could use the point bonus but her son is already there, three years early."
He grinned. "It sounds like they chose well on all physical aspects. What about how you'd raise the child?"
"The Queen herself has talked to our families, as well as the other two finalists. She's also talked to my sister's husband and their family. She's approved of the way we raise ours and said if something tragic happened and we had to raise the heir they'd be loved, well taken care of, and spoiled in the good way."
He relaxed and nodded. "Then I accept. Thank you."
"It's not a problem, Highness. I've wanted to have another one for a few years. My husband doesn't want any more children and had himself fixed." He grinned at that. "It's the best solution to both problems." She curtseyed again and handed over a file. "This is the file the Council wanted me to hand to you. That way you can look it over and officially approve." He nodded, putting it in front of him. "Thank you for your consideration, Highness."
"You're welcome, Olivia." She beamed and walked out, leaving him alone. He looked at the file, having gotten her first name off it, but the file was very complete. No family history of anything worse than high blood pressure. No insanity in ten generations. No drug dependencies in three, and that one had been an amputee. She had a Masters degree in business administration. She had a good job. Her husband had a good job. All of her children were smart, cute, and looking to have a good future. Her sister's was included as well and looked just as bright. He looked up as Kate came in, going back to reading. "They picked my surrogate. Just in case."
"Interesting." She came to look it over. "She's pretty."
"She wants another child and her husband didn't. It suits them. She's impressive and sweet in person. She said Mary liked her family. She's related to more than one member of the Ruling Council." She nodded at that. "So maybe some politics but not much." Gibbs walked in. "They picked the surrogate already."
He took the folder to look through, nodding at it. "She's impressive. How was she in person?"
"Sweet. Nice. Well spoken. Happy." He grinned. "If she wasn't married I might've made a pass."
Gibbs laughed, handing it back. "Her sister?"
"If she can't, her sister's agreed to step in. They're related to more than one member of the Council so less chance of pressure politics." He put it aside. "How's the upgrade looking? I know the Intelligence net went down last night for the computer upgrade."
"It's back up. They're running well from what I was told," Gibbs said, handing over the note. Tony read it over, smiling at that. "Are we planning the other assault in here?"
"We probably should since your office has bugs." He looked at him. "Behind the painting of Queen Bethlehem is a jammer for this office." That got a nod and they settled in to plan that raid. Tony had just gotten back from the last scouting mission before the raid. He'd be going on this one with Gibbs and the rest of the team helping since this one had a lot of security forces. Including a good portion of them who were former military. It'd save the local's lives if they helped.
Tony woke up two days later, blinking at the hospital's ceiling. "I didn't think a graze needed to be knocked out," he told the person hovering next to him.
"It wouldn't have but you were knocked down when the bomb went off," the Queen said, smiling at him. "Quit worrying me. Each time you get hurt I lose a few months of life."
"Better not," he teased, smiling at her. "Bomb?" She nodded. "What bomb?"
"There was an explosion, Tony." He shook his head slowly. "Yes there was."
"No there wasn't. When I got grazed we had the guy in custody and only one last bastion of guards to take down. No bombs. We had a jammer so they couldn't set off a remote device." She gaped. He lifted her watch to look at it then at her. "It's been two days?" She nodded. "Um, Mary, even if there was an explosion, I wouldn't have slept this long. Can we get some bloodwork and Gibbs?"
She nodded, going to talk to Paul and Doug, who came in with the nurse. "Highness, I'm told you need blood drawn?"
He grimaced. "How long have I been here?"
"Two hours, Highness."
"The raid was two days ago. Where have I been?" he asked the two men.
"We're not really sure," Doug admitted. "Go ahead and do a full spectrum test on the blood for any drugs." She nodded, doing that for them and leaving. He looked at Tony. "Bomb?"
"Satellite photos don't show explosion damage either," Paul admitted. Doug gaped at him. He shook his head. "It doesn't." He looked at Tony. "Gibbs is pacing and pissed."
"I was right behind Gibbs the last time I knew. I got a graze to the outside of my arm." He pointed. "I winced, I hissed, I kept going. I apparently blacked out?"
"Apparently, or were knocked out," Doug said, starting to frown. He walked over to the phone and called his boss. "I'm with Tony." His boss growled something. "Sir, there was no explosion. Paul agreed with Tony, sir. Yes, him. There was no explosion." His boss shouted an order to find out what sort of damage had been done. He listened, nodding slowly. "We're having him tested for drugs. As he pointed out, it's been two days."
Tony looked at Paul. "Assault cams? Kate had one. She was going to use it for training at the college. The instructors asked."
"I'll see." He went to call Gibbs. "Tony's awake," he reported. He heard the growl. "Kate had on an assault camera?" He blinked. "She did? How?" He nodded slowly. "That was his first question too, Gibbs. Yes, I'm putting guards on him. He's here. Thank you." He hung up and looked at a nearby nurse. "No one but family and his team is to get in to see his Highness." He wrote out the list, getting a nod. "I'll be setting guards. We think someone attacked him during the assault." She nodded faster, going to call security for him to brief.
Gibbs came in and it woke Tony up. "You're right. You were drugged."
"Um, duh, with all due respect?" he said dryly. He looked at him. "And what happened?"
"Someone kidnaped you."
"Okay. Who rescued me?"
"She did." He handed over something. It was a nice certificate with a few blank spots. "They're debating if it's legal since you were clearly drugged."
Tony read it over, frowning at it. Then at him. "I did what while I was drugged?"
"Apparently you got married, DiNozzo."
"Um, no, boss. I don't really like commitments." He looked over as his cousin walked in with Paul behind her. "I did what while I was drugged?"
"There's a further complication," she said grimly, her mouth pressed together. He gave her a horrified look. "She supplied a tape of the consummation. It can't be annulled."
"I was still drugged. That falls under the rape statutes."
Paul nodded. "Which would piss off the other royals in the world. But there's better news. You're now a widow." Tony gaped. He nodded. "She did so in order that you could not marry again," he said. "A quote from her suicide note, found in her purse in her car. She shot herself." He handed over a photocopy and the folder from earlier. "So you're a widow now."
"The Council has got to be freaking."
"Putting it mildly," Gibbs told him.
Tony looked at him then at her. "I'm so going to beat someone." He heaved himself up, grabbing his head. "Those drugs are nice." He made himself get out of the bed and find clothes. "Come on, we're going to make an announcement. I'm not putting up with this." He stomped out, heading down to the limo, Gibbs right behind him. "We're going to see Marrian." The driver drove off, letting him fume in peace. Gibbs was giving him worried looks. "I'm fine, boss." The limo paused and he got out, heading inside, well storming inside might be better. "Marrian, we're going live with an announcement!" he called as he walked.
"Highness!" she squeaked, coming out of her office. "What's wrong?"
"I'll tell you on the air." He looked at the diminutive woman. "Now." She nodded, hurrying off to do that. He found a nice lectern and leaned on it while she got things ready, standing up straighter when the cameraman pointed at him. "I'm sorry to interrupt your evenings," he said smoothly. "There have been things going on that will impact this country and I feel that the people should hear it from me personally before wild rumors get started. I do so because I don't wish anyone to worry." He looked at Marrian, who was beside him, then at his boss, then back at the camera. "Recently we have we have had a few higher level criminals who have moved into our great country. I have helped eliminate the threat one posed and two days ago we went on a raid to capture the other one. During that assault, I was slightly injured."
He moved his shirt and took off the bandage to show the graze. "That is a gunshot graze. It is nothing serious." He put his shirt back down, tossing out the bandage. "Sometime during that, somehow, I was knocked out with some sort of anesthetic. I do not know what sort yet. I know you have heard rumors of an explosion. There was no explosion. The explosion story was to cover up the fact that somehow someone managed to kidnap me during the middle of the assault's clean up effort." He swallowed. "During that time..." Marrian handed him a glass of water. "Thank you, dear." He took a sip. "During that time apparently the person who had me gave me mind-altering drugs and had some sort of religious authority marry us. I do not remember this happening. I do not remember any of this.
"The first I knew of anything happening was when I woke up a few hours ago in the hospital. Apparently during this time she also managed to somehow force my drugged body into consummating the marriage. To me, that is not legal. It is not legal by our laws and it is not acceptable to me as a true marriage. If the Church sees differently then we'll have to discuss it but for all purposes I consider myself to have not been married. I know she submitted a tape of that consummation when an annulment was broached. Then apparently she went somewhere in her car and shot herself." He handed over the copy of the note. "That is the copy of the note she left with her body. It was done in malice. To keep me from marrying someone who would be good for me, this country, and both our futures. I know many people, including the Ruling Council and my cousin, are panicking about what this means.
"To me, this meant nothing. I was drugged and not able to make a conscious choice and decision to wed whoever this woman was. Had she not died, I would have been pressing for annulment because that is not how a marriage is supposed to start. This is not some barbaric time in the past when you rode into a village, captured someone, and then rode off with them to force them to marry you. I will not be made to marry this way." He took another sip of his water, glancing at the reporter, then at his boss again, then back at the reporter. "At this time I know there are many questions being asked. As soon as I know, anything that is not going to harm those people involved will be released. I wish her family no harm. She clearly had plans that were not good.
"If her family did not support this matter, then I have nothing against them and neither should you. I will not have retaliation against innocent parties. Should we find out that someone helped her plan this farce and helped her pull it off, they will be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law." He took another drink. "As of this moment, I will consider this farce of a marriage a closed matter. Again, if the Church doesn't, they can come talk to me in private. I'm going to be going home soon to heal for a few days. The drugs have given me a very bad headache. I'm not doing anything until it clears so we know that I'm not going to end up doing something wrong. My team can help my cousin watch me." He finished the water and put his glass down, looking at his reporter friend again. "I want you to help those who are investigating, Marrian. You have ways of getting information they do not. Should you find something, please tell Paul or Gibbs." He nodded his head at him. "Would that be acceptable?"
"It would be, Highness, and I'll gladly take any reports you want to make on this matter," she said, smiling slightly. "You should be in bed."
"This was too important to let sit and fester. Even if I should be in bed, I cannot and will not let this sort of incident fester and hurt the populace. I will not let it hurt my cousin's administration." He wobbled and grabbed the lectern. "But I will be sensible and go to bed now that no misconceptions can happen." He let Gibbs take his arm. "I will be talking to you within days, Marrian. Thank you for humoring me and again, I'm sorry I interrupted your evenings, my people." He bowed and left, letting Gibbs walk him off, back to the limo, which Mary, Doug, and Paul were in. "Sorry. Had to," he said weakly, leaning his head back. "My head aches."
"You've got a few good days of detoxing, DiNozzo," Gibbs said calmly. Tony nodded weakly. "He'll need rest and quiet, lots of fluids. He shouldn't need anything medical," he told Paul, who nodded at that. "Were you listening?"
"I was," Doug agreed. "She's got a good hand at finding out information."
"He was right," Mary said. "It would do no good to let this fester and the cover story go any farther. Who made up the explosion?"
"Sir Vale, ma'am," Doug said.
She grimaced. "I'll not have that. Doug, you report to me first, then Gibbs. Am I clear?" He nodded quickly. "I want to have their names within a week. The whole conspiracy."
"Yes, ma'am," he said, getting out when the limo paused near his office. He could jog the last block. He walked into his office, looking at his boss. "The Queen is *pissed*, sir." His boss groaned. "The Prince is beyond livid. We'll have all the help we need. She wants the whole conspiracy within a week. Gibbs can help, Tony asked Marrian at the news station. He'll be detoxing for a few days." That got a nod. "What do we know?"
"His speech was good for not having an official writer," he said bluntly. "Her family didn't have anything to do with it."
"The queen wanted to know why Sir Vale announced an explosion."
"That's a good question. Go find out," he ordered. Doug nodded and went to find him at his home. The others went to find more information on this. He'd get it to her before Gibbs came to help. His reputation proceeded him. He'd make a good Queen for them.
Tony was nudged awake by Kate, blinking at her. "Humm?"
"I need Last Rites?"
She smacked him on the head, getting a smile. "About the drugged marriage thing."
"Fine. Let me sit up. Get me some juice?" She nodded, going to do that while he got comfortable and the priest came in. "Father."
"Tony then." He sat in the chair Kate had vacated. "You do know that with consummation there is no annulment?"
"Even if it's a rape case?"
He grimaced. "I have asked the higher ups about that, Tony. They are thinking about it. It is an unusual circumstance and I do know that you do like another." Tony shook his head slowly. "It is clear to everyone but you, son. The Church does not like that fact, but we feel it's good to have a stable leadership, even if they are gay."
"Gibbs is my boss, Father."
He laughed. "If you would look, he might be more."
"I doubt it. He's got this thing for redheads." Kate walked in with a glass of juice. "Thanks, Kate. He thinks I'm with Gibbs too."
"So does our Holy Father, Tony." Tony nearly choked. He smiled. "He does not like it but he said it's better to have a smart gay man than one who hates everyone and himself in charge. Though you would not be allowed to take communion."
"I don't take communion now," he said bluntly, giving him a look. That got a nod and a small smile. "I'm still not with Gibbs."
Kate walked out, shaking her head. "Gibbs, the priest thinks you're together and so does the Pope," she called. She could hear him choking in his room. She got out of there before he could start yelling. She wanted to be out of the palace before his screaming brought it down around her ears. So she went to look at the anniversary celebration's building that was going on. She smiled at Mary. "The priest that came to see Tony said the Pope thinks they're together and it's better a gay man than one who hates himself and his relationship for a stable leadership."
Mary sighed, nodding a bit. "Of course he does. He is a bit narrow minded at times." They could hear some shouting coming out of Tony's wing and both winced. "You told Gibbs?"
"Oh, yeah. Then I fled. I didn't want to be anywhere near that." McGee and Paul came jogging out. "Afraid the building will fall in?"
"With the way the boss is yelling, yes," McGee said bluntly, cracking the queen up. They all looked up at the sound of a gunshot. "Think Tony capped the priest?" he asked quietly.
"I hope not. He's the assistant to the head of the Church for the country," Mary said, looking worried. That would surely cause a huge scandal, even with the excuse of the drugs in his system.
Tony opened his bedroom window and leaned out. "No, he didn't shoot me."
"We were worried more about the visitor, we know you won't shoot Gibbs and he'd only smack you harder," Kate called.
"He's fine too. He wanted to look at my gun and it went off. Into my bed. But we're all fine." He closed the window again, looking at Gibbs. "McGee fled too, boss."
"I'll beat him later," he promised. He looked at the priest. "I told you we weren't together."
The priest looked at him. "It might be best if you were. It would look natural after such a horrible incident with that woman." Gibbs growled. "It would."
Tony shook his head. "He still likes redheads and I still like breasts."
The priest shrugged. "If you marry a woman sometime soon it might help. As is, they're going to force you to marry someone, Anthony." He stared at him. "My boss said it's going to be within the year. He's already getting his robes pressed. If you have a choice, speak up now, son. It'll take *months* to plan a royal wedding."
Tony opened up the window again. "Who are they trying to force me to marry now? I've heard that there's already a plan in place?"
Mary smiled at him. "Only the general things, dear." She waved and went to help with the boat building.
Gibbs put Tony back into the bed, looking at the amused priest. "It still wouldn't be right."
"If you do so, you'll be retired and so would he, Jethro."
"I could lose my pension and most of the people around me."
The priest nodded. "That may be, but you would have a guiding hand here. A bright future for your third career." Jethro walked out shaking his head. He looked at Tony. "My boss has been told that the wedding will be taking place within a year. Even if your cousin has to have you drugged, Anthony. There might be a last-minute substitution if you wanted it, but they're already very set for it. They've been making plans now for years and they know it'll be soon."
Tony looked at him. "You know, with what happened, I could be asked to abdicate in favor of the Contessa. She's a more distant relative but is one barely."
"She's unsuitable because of her husband. She's also power hungry and your people would suffer." He stood up. "Think on it. If you have a choice, make it known, Tony. Before one is made for you." He left him alone, going to tell his boss what he had seen. It may not be a love match but it would keep their prince from being forced into a loveless marriage that would be nearly as bad as the one that had just ended. The Pope was still wobbling on if that was grounds for an annulment, and they all prayed he agreed with them.
Tony sat in his room and sulked. He was thinking about all the women he knew. Unless he married Kate... No, he'd wring her neck within a week from all the shopping. But at least Raphael would have someone who enjoyed going with him. He pressed the button for his personal servant, getting a young woman. "Can I have some more juice and something to do?"
"You can have some more juice but I was ordered to make you rest or else the queen would be tucking you in personally, sire." She took his glass to get him some more juice from what they had brought up to his min-fridge, handing it over before leaving.
Tony went back to sulking. He hated people sometimes. He really did.
In his room, Gibbs was doing the same thing. It was not a happy thought but a whole country was going to be landing on that kid's shoulders and Tony had not a clue what he was doing running things. He had always walked away from command. He liked being second-in-command. He sighed and rubbed his face, calling someone to talk to them. "Fornell, Gibbs." He smiled. "It's pretty. It's a wonderful country. They're very nice. It's been great working with them. No, he's fine. It made the international press?" He winced. "No, right now they're trying to get him to marry anyone, even me. It's been suggested," he admitted, smiling at the words of comfort. "I'd be in charge of the military, the intelligence system, and all that, Fornell. They're on a major shipment line for drugs and weapons." He smiled. "I know, I'd have to deal with DiNozzo's playing around. Plus the surrogate situation. No, they've already picked one of those. I don't know." He relaxed at the kind words.
"Even the Queen likes that idea," he admitted, smiling at the laughter. "That was pointed out to me too," he admitted. He nodded at the wisdom coming. "I think right now it's me or Kate. I don't know. They already introduced him to a bunch of suitable women and he said none of them could understand about his work. Yeah, he said he'll continue it. Thanks, Fornell. How's my agency?" He laughed at the 'screwed up, and you're getting a new director soon' comment. "We are?" He nodded. "Really?" He shuddered. "Thanks for the warning, Tobias. Sure, I'll bring you back some pictures or something. Why?" He listened, making notes. "Thank you for that as well." He hung up and paged Kate, bringing her back up there. "Fornell and I talked."
"We're getting a new director in a few weeks."
"Yay us," she said flatly. "Anything else?"
"Ari was shot dead by another team." She growled at that. "He had pictures on his wall of you, Kate." She sat down in his chair, staring at him. "So we dodged a bullet literally on that from what he said." She nodded once. He got up and closed the door. "They're getting pushy."
"You, me, or someone he doesn't know," he said bluntly.
Kate winced. "I'd wring his neck after two weeks, Gibbs." He sighed and nodded, sitting down again. "I like Tony most of the time but it's more like he's an annoying little brother. Not like he's a candidate for love or anything. I couldn't sleep with him. He'd do goofy voices and tease me. Besides, I don't like kids. I'm not really looking forward to kids." She stood up. "So, want power tools for a wedding gift?" He gave her a dirty look. She smirked. "Take a bullet for the good of everyone, boss. Remember, Tony's in charge of the military too once he ascends." She left him alone to think about it.
Gibbs sat down, not happy with the proposition. He'd never slept with a man before. He wasn't sure Tony had either. There was no way a marriage between them would work. He was grumpy, surly, and he liked to smack him to correct him. Maybe he'd help him find someone suitable instead. He did know some nice women.
The team finally came home and Tony walked into the office first, nodding at Gibbs. "Morning, boss."
"Director wants to see you."
"Yay me," he muttered, heading up there. He nodded at the assistant, who waved a hand. "Anything I should know?"
"She's not grumpy."
"Wonderful." He knocked on the door then walked in. "You wanted to see me, Director?"
"I did, Prince."
"This is the US, Director. My title means nothing at NCIS and never has. Gibbs didn't even know until the terrorism conference. I've only known since my time in Philadelphia."
She stared at him. "You're very high profile at the moment, DiNozzo." He shrugged. "We do work on terrorism cases. How can you go undercover?"
"Who says I have to go undercover anytime soon, Director? If we have a case where it's necessary it'll be about the same as the month I was in Newsweek and no one noticed it then." He stared at her. "If you want me to quit, you're going to have to find a very good reason, Director. Anything else?" She glared at him. "Then I have a report to write for Gibbs so we make sure our time helping my people upgrade their security net and intelligence community is notated for the next upgrade." He walked off, going back to his desk. "Boss, she started off on my title and how I can't work undercover."
"Really? No one over here pays attention to foreign royalty unless they're very popular in the press as far as I knew. Even Fornell didn't know, DiNozzo."
"I said it'd be about the same as the time I was in Newsweek and no one noticed." Gibbs frowned at him. "Coronation anniversary about ten months after I got here, boss."
"Oh. Must've missed that issue." He shrugged. "It doesn't make a difference to me. Do you have the reports bundled together?" Tony sat down to pull up the CD's reports, bundling them together with a tie-in summary and index, then printed it and handed it over. "Thank you." He sealed in and marked it 'eyes only' then paged a courier, sending it to someone who needed to know. "To Langley, that person only. No secretaries." The courier nodded, leaving with it. He looked at Tony again. "You all right?"
"I miss having someone cook, but otherwise I'm fine. I'll have to get into the storage area this weekend so I can unpack." He shrugged a bit, getting into his email to check it. He sighed when his password was expired, changing it. Then calling computer services when that didn't work. "It's DiNozzo. My password won't work?" He nodded, typing that in, then changing it once he got into the system. "Thank you." He hung up. He wrote it down and handed it to Gibbs. "That's your temporary password, we overshot how long the system will hold accounts for us. It's on admin holding. Type that in then change it." He went back to his seat, going to deal with his departmental email. He could weed out a lot of it. He smiled when he smelled Abby coming. "Incoming, boss."
Gibbs looked up, smiling when he spotted her. "Your present is at home."
"I'll pop over tonight." She gave him a hug around the neck. "It's good to have you back. No one brought me sodas while you were gone." She came over to hug Tony. "Or told me jokes." She beamed at him. "Can I be a bridesmaid?"
"Sure. If you can convince them I don't want to marry Gibbs. Or Kate." He looked at her. "Even the Pope wants it now. He'll grant the annulment if I marry Gibbs." She burst out cackling. He nodded. "Exactly." She gave him another hug, then went to hug Kate since she was coming in. "New Director's in, Kate."
"Yay us," she said bitterly. She looked at Gibbs. "Don't make me wear ugly dresses for the wedding, please?"
"Why would I?"
"It was on the morning news that your director and ours said that NCIS was going to work very closely with those people now that such strong ties had been fostered by their prince working with us and marrying one of us." Gibbs spluttered. "So I don't want to wear an ugly dress, Gibbs. Please?"
"I will," Abby said happily, waving a hand.
"I doubt they'd be ugly," Tony said dryly. "And the only thing NCIS is doing with my people is me." He looked at her and smiled. "They want silver and green, or silver and blue if I marry Gibbs." She shrugged. "Ballgown. Heavy satin."
She shrugged again. "What sort of gown are they putting you in?"
He smirked. "Silver and cream." She laughed. "Without lace because I *refuse* to wear lace." Abby giggled and ran off again. "But you can be a bridesmaid and I'll make sure it's pretty dresses for you."
"Thanks, DiNozzo," Gibbs said dryly.
"This means she could be your attendant, boss."
"DiNozzo, shut up."
"Yes, boss." He got back to work, finding an email he forwarded. "Get into your email, boss. Just sent you an admin notice." Gibbs groaned but did that, growling and printing it so he could go yell at the director himself. He smiled at Kate, sending it to her.
"Coffee run?" she suggested.
"Fire drill?" he countered.
"I like that idea," she decided, typing in a message to security. They could pull a fire drill. It'd save lives. The yelling had already started when the alarm went off, letting them all run downstairs. They all knew Gibbs knew something about explosives. It was not going to be pretty. Kate looked over at Tony, who was drinking his coffee. "Who do you think they'll get to replace her if Gibbs kills her?"
"I don't know. Fornell maybe?" He shrugged, nodding at one of the guards. "Hey, guys."
"Kate sent us the email, DiNozzo. You okay?"
"I'm fine. The one from this morning?"
"The one saying you had just been kidnaped and drugged, to watch for anything coming for you here," Kate told him. "The one about everyone wanting you to marry Gibbs I didn't feel like spreading. It'd only give others headaches." Everyone who could hear gave them horrified looks.
Tony smiled and waved. "Hi." They backed away. "That's our feeling on the subject too," he assured them. "But my people like him. A lot." He looked at the guard. "Anything else happen while we were gone?"
"Not really. A few letters we forwarded to your house." Gibbs stomped outside. "Looks like the drill's over with," he muttered, radioing his boss. He looked at Gibbs. "Did you get the mail we forwarded, Agent Gibbs?"
"We did," he said. "Thank you." He looked at Tony. "She's sorry."
"I'm sure she is," Kate said, walking off. "Gibbs, want some more coffee?" He shook his head. She gave him an odd look. He waved his current cup a bit. "Okay. Tony?"
"I've still got half," he said. He looked at Gibbs. "You okay?"
"I'm fine. She wants to put us onto some special cases and I bluntly turned down the honor. Also, we won't have any to go undercover on anytime soon." Tony shrugged at that. "She also wanted to apologize for making assumptions about the role NCIS would play in your rule."
Tony grinned. "I have some friends and contacts I can lean on from here and the other places I've worked, Gibbs. What do you think about Fornell heading this place?"
Gibbs gave him an odd look. "Didn't you detox all that crap already?" Tony snickered. "No way in hell I'd stay, DiNozzo."
"There's always that other option," someone said happily. "It might even push gay rights a bit further along over here." Gibbs glared at her so she backed off. "It could."
"It might," Tony admitted. "Especially with certain higher figures involved." He pointed at the limo. "Secretary of State," he announced. Most everyone straightened out their clothes. He nodded politely when she came over. "Ma'am."
"Agent DiNozzo. Back at work?"
"All but a fire drill, ma'am. The director's making sure the building's been cleared to her satisfaction."
She nodded. "That's fine, I'll go talk to her while she makes her rounds." She went to do that. She stopped and looked at him. "Are you inviting heads of state?"
He shrugged. "I should. I have no idea if I am or not. They only told me recently I'm getting married." She nodded once and continued inside. He looked at Gibbs. "Can't I start on the heir and then go into hiding?"
"No. They won't let you do that. Paul said it was against the ethical codes, DiNozzo."
"Damn." He walked off, draining his coffee as he walked. "Going for more, boss." He hiked up the street to get some more coffee, thinking bad thoughts about some people. The guy at the shop smiled at him. "My usual please? I'm finally back at work and we're having a fire drill." He got it and paid for it, walking back to the office. People weren't on the lawn so he went back inside, finding people at their desks, as they should be. He sat down at his but an IM window popped up telling him to go to the Director's office again. He sighed and brought his new coffee with him, sipping it for strength. He walked in and waved at the assistant. "Other people ignored it when I asked them to. I was even polite," he said dryly before walking into the office. "Yes, Director."
"Director Morrow ignored it?" she asked dryly.
"Yup. I asked him to. I pointed out it didn't make a lot of difference over here. This is the US, there's no royal hierarchy. It doesn't give me more status, make paperwork go any faster, or make it any more difficult for me to solve cases." He took a drink and looked at the secretary of state again. "How was your morning, ma'am?"
"Better than yours. The president would like to talk to you about military cooperation."
"I'm not in charge of that yet. Talk to my cousin." She gaped. He shrugged. "I'm not. The generals only barely listen to me even when I'm in charge of something. They're some of the people pushing for me to marry someone like Special Agent Gibbs, ma'am." Both women gaped. He looked at Gibbs. "Didn't tell her?"
"I did. She's not listening." He sipped his own coffee, then took Tony's when his was empty. "Thanks, DiNozzo. Did you have to ruin it with sugar?"
"Yes, I did," he said dryly. "Cynthia, Gibbs is out of coffee and stole mine."
She came in with the pot to refill Gibbs' cup for him. "The blend Director Morrow said you liked, Special Agent Gibbs," she said with a smile, handing Tony back his cup. "There you go, Tony." She refilled the other cups then left again.
Tony grinned at the director. "We all know it's a bad thing to keep him without coffee." Gibbs smacked him on the head. "Sorry, boss." He looked at the SoS again. "Ma'am, with all bluntness, that would be up to the Queen and her generals. They would advise her on the suitability of that issue and they'd talk about it with the Ruling Council. I can bring the suggestion to her but talking to them directly is going to get you farther than I am."
"You're working here."
"Yes, and I went to military school. That gives little weight to anything I say in a room full of generals." She nodded at that wisdom. "I do know that we set it up so our intelligence community can work with the one over there easier since we're on a major highway for drugs and gun smuggling. I know that our military hardly ever goes outside our borders. The last time was Word War II." She grimaced at that. "It's a small country and mostly like the National Guard. People like us. We're nice. We're ethical. We don't have to go outside our country for nearly anything but fuel and a few other things. So you need to talk to them or to the embassy, not to me."
"I understand your position, DiNozzo. I'll let him know about that." Tony grinned and nodded. "Now, about this proposed marriage?"
He shrugged. "They told me I'm getting married one way or another. It's either Gibbs, Kate, or someone they choose. Kate doesn't like children, doesn't want children, and I have to have an heir on the way within two years. Even though I'm not due over there for another two years, that's my personal timetable, they're going to marry me off to someone within the next year. They do like Gibbs for that. They think a friendship marriage would be good for them. That the generals would listen to him where they don't me. That he can fill in for some of my rough spots and where I don't have the knowledge to do things. At which point in time I might be recruiting Agent McGee to come work at the university with our intelligence training program. Kate possibly as well if she could find a subject to teach. If they marry me off to some standard royal female, who knows what'll happen. They know Gibbs. They know what he's like. Even our grumpy general liked him and he hates me. Still calls me a princess." Gibbs snorted and took another drink to hide the laughter. "You might warn the President that he's going to have to deal with it if they do decide that's for the best. They're mean enough to kidnap both of us, ma'am."
"Fine. I'll let him know about that problem," she said.
"What about that heir?" the director asked sarcastically.
"The surrogate the Council picked has three children already, all three are very smart, she speaks four languages, she has a masters in business administration, and she's from a very good set of bloodlines. She's related to over half the Council so they can't use her for petty politics. She wants more children and her husband has agreed. She's only asking for a two point head start on her last child's placement exam and maintenance for any months she has custody." The director gaped. "If for some reason she can't, her sister is the next in line and there's another one after her who was second choice. She's even said that she wouldn't care if there were a nucleus switch so it was truly mine and my spouse's child instead of mine and hers."
Gibbs looked at him. "You can do that?"
"Yeah, same process as cloning, boss, only you use a sperm cell instead of a full one in the egg." He grunted and nodded. "The university has a kick ass genetics program." He looked at the SoS again, smiling a bit. "They've made all the decisions. I get to decide if I want to steal Gibs or marry some woman I don't know. Got a suggestion?" he finished blandly.
She stared at him. "Marry the woman. It'll go easier on you when you have to deal with other countries."
"This is Europe, ma'am. We can legally marry in half the countries over there." She gaped. "The only problem we'd have is with the US and parts of South America. We don't really deal with them though."
She smirked. "You're a smartass."
"Yes I am, and I was warned against being a diplomat because of that trait. Then again, we drove off a Saudi prince who we had to arrest once too." He took another sip of his coffee. He looked at the director. "By the way, the dress code? I'm not wearing a tie. I can't crawl around on a scene in a tie, Director. No one can." He looked at Gibbs. "Right?"
Gibbs considered it then nodded. "It's not practical and you can drag evidence onto a scene with one, DiNozzo. No ties." He nodded at that, relaxing again. "For the record, I'm against this proposed union."
"I'm sure you are," the director agreed, smiling at him. "Did you have fun?"
"A lot." He looked at the higher power in front of him. "Was there anything else to discuss? If not, we should be next in line for a case."
"Go back to work, boys," she said, watching them walk off. She looked at the director, who shrugged. "They're not that friendly."
"DiNozzo? No, he's not. He snapped at me earlier when I tried to talk about his position here." She didn't realize the other woman was giving her an odd look before she walked out. She got back to work consolidating her power base so she knew what she could count on.
Tony blinked, looking at the man beside his bed. "Boss, it's three in the morning or so. Why did you break into my place?"
"I think we should talk." He sat on the foot of the bed, staring at him. "I know you. You make long-range plans, DiNozzo." Tony nodded. "What are you going to do if this turns out to be a political marriage?"
Tony sat up, making sure the sheets covered his bare lap. "Whine. I'll do a lot of work away from home with every case I can. I'll continue Mary's work on the habitat projects. I'll continue with the infrastructure building. I'm hoping she'll let us be friends but I doubt we'll ever get much closer than that. Did you find out who?"
"Paul sent it." He handed over the information sheet.
Tony looked it over. She was pretty. She was his type. She didn't work but she knew what work was. She helped out with three charities. "The last time I heard, she was romantically involved with someone."
"It's for the good of both families according to him."
Tony looked at him. "That would be poaching and unethical."
"She's not engaged."
"That's still unethical."
"I know. They know. They think you two could make it slightly closer to working than not."
He grimaced and shook his head. "I hate the very idea and I'd rather die young and pretty than be in a political marriage, boss."
"Then you have to find someone soon, DiNozzo. Or you have to decide to settle."
Tony slumped, nodding. "I know." He looked at him. "I'm sorry if they bother you."
"I'm not. Paul's pretty fun to work with. So's Doug. You have good people waiting on you." Tony nodded. "Though, if the director keeps shoving, you might think about going over sooner."
"I'm already thinking about that and I have the letter drafted in my desk," he admitted. "I have because something might happen to Mary." That got a nod. He considered it, then looked at him. "I have no idea what I'm doing, boss."
"Well, for right now, you're having dinner with her in a few days." Tony looked at the back of the paper, finding the date written down. "She's already been told and from what Paul said she's not happy either."
"That's because it's wrong in so many ways."
"It's her or that Danish princess, DiNozzo. You hated her. You were doing impersonations once she was gone."
Gibbs nodded. "Those are your choices. Unless you find someone within the month so they have time to plan." Tony nodded, looking at his hands. He tipped his face up. "It could be a lot worse. It could be McGee."
"At least we'd get to joke around. The Danish princess didn't even like my jokes." Gibbs smirked at that. "She didn't! She was very stiff. Kind of flaky too. I think Abby would even find her a bit strange." Gibbs nodded. "Told her?"
"I think she knew. She's been watching the gossip columns since we left." He tapped the paper. "You might find out you like her."
"I might find out she's in love too. They didn't tell her I asked, right?" Gibbs shook his head. "I didn't think anyone would do that to me, but you never know." He wiggled until he was laying down again. "Thanks for the warning, boss."
"Welcome, DiNozzo. That's a situation you want backup for." He got up and walked out, heading back to his boat to think. Some sanding would help him work things out. This was not going to be pretty.
Tony came to Gibbs' house after that date, walking down the stairs to the basement and sitting down in his recliner, glaring at the expectant look he got. "Not only is she nice, and sweet, she's pregnant by her lover. Her people didn't know. I told her what mine wanted and she told me that. We can get along as friends probably but it couldn't ever be more now." That got a single nod. "So I told Paul that there's no way, she's too involved with her current man. He said I'm marrying in three months, said I'd love the other princess eventually. Or he suggested you again."
Gibbs looked at him. Then he shrugged. "What do you want to do?"
"Eat my gun at the moment. That's why I'm here." Gibbs glared at him. "I've never even touched a man, Gibbs!"
"Neither have I, DiNozzo." He watched his agent slump. "Can you make a good case against her?"
"She'll ruin the country. The people won't like her. The military will hate her. She was talking about fairies with one of the generals." That got a small snicker. "We'll have a revolt, I'll get killed for it, and then the country will go under a military regime. How's that for a good case?"
"It's a pretty bad worst case scenario." Tony tossed over a balled up email. "From?"
"The general who liked you. He sent it ten minutes after Paul and I hung up. He said it sent it to Mary too."
Gibbs looked at the short letter then at him. "You have two choices, DiNozzo. Even if you don't like it and I don't like it."
"You'd be suffocated in the palace."
"You're right. I could also go out and do the same thing you planned on doing. Plus build a bigger boat."
Tony cracked a smile at that. "Been thinking?"
"I was asked to."
Tony stood up, walking over. "You'd die and we'd have to prove we were together."
"The press, Gibbs. Not like the old tradition where a priest watched the wedding night. That hasn't happened in two generations." That got a smile back. He shrugged. "Would you save my people having me rule the military?" he asked quietly. "Take over that part of the job, help me with the intelligence community, help me with the college, all that stuff? Help me raise an heir?"
Gibbs considered it for a minute then nodded. "Better me than Kate."
"Kate would be dead within a month. There's all sorts of duties the queen can take up if they want to." He shrugged. "You're sure? If I tell them you're stuck. No backing out. They'll drug you, kidnap you, and it'll happen like my first one did."
Gibbs nodded. "I can do that. It'll be good for your people. Besides, you're a crap military commander, DiNozzo."
"Tony then. At least outside of work." Tony nodded. "When are you going to tell them?"
"I shouldn't keep them waiting. They might call the princess," he muttered, patting himself down. "I left the phone in the car." He trudged out to get it, coming back down listening to someone complain. "Shut up, Paul," he said finally. He listened to him huff. "Then it's a good thing Gibbs agreed so we wouldn't have a revolt and you won't have to wear a uniform ever again." Gibbs laughed at that. "No, we'll have one of those friendship marriages where we're off doing things. Thank you. No, you can't. We have to tell people here first. Because we have a don't ask, don't tell policy, Paul, and our president is homophobic. Exactly. So let us send out the announcements. Sure, in a week. Thank you." He hung up. "We have *a* week."
"When do you start trying for the heir?"
"It'll be IVF and we'll do the warm transfer within a month of the wedding. Hopefully it'll take within the first year."
Gibbs nodded. "It should."
"Do you want to be a father or a stepfather?"
Gibbs shrugged. "That I have to think about."
"Please. Before they pounce. They're going to pounce. There'll be people pouncing for the rest of the year." Gibbs laughed. "There will be. You know there will be. I know there will be. Hell, the clothiers wanted to go over what I wanted in a wedding before there was more than the tea to pimp me out. We're going to be pounced for weeks."
Gibbs smirked and nodded. "We can spring the team and Abby to come for it."
Tony smiled. "Think we can get Abby to come teach? I suggested we put in a forensics program and they liked it at the college. It'll be the only one within ten countries."
"I think she'd like that. Closer to Transylvania." Tony smiled and nodded. "Are we poaching McGee?"
"And Kate if we can. Ducky too if he wants."
Gibbs nodded. "I'll call them together for breakfast. Then I'll talk with Fornell and the SecNav."
"Let me talk to the SecNav," he said, taking back the email. "I'll get to him tonight when you can't. He's at some fundraiser thingy." He walked out, going to go home and change. The fundraiser people let him in with a doorway donation, always happy to have more money and he was an important person. He chatted and smiled, avoiding his own director all the way over to where the bigwigs were. "Sirs," he said. "Can I please borrow the SecNav for a few minutes?"
"Special Agent DiNozzo," the Vice President said, looking him over. "I didn't know you were attending."
"There's been a new development he needs to hear first." He smiled and led the man off, glancing at him. "You've heard I'm sure."
"I have. How did your date go?"
"She's engaged to someone else." He handed over the email before grabbing a flute of champagne from a waiter with a smile and a nod. The Secretary of the Navy moaned. "So it came down to what was best for my people, sir."
He looked at him. "Jethro agreed?" He nodded, looking serious. "You're sure?"
"We're telling people tomorrow."
"Then I suppose congratulations are in order, son." Tony cracked a small smile but he still looked nervous. "Are you leaving immediately?"
"No, sir. I had plans of not going back for two years."
"That's going to be impossible in this administration."
"Gibbs hits twenty in six months. They want it within three."
He considered it. "I'll see what we can do. Can I talk to him?"
Tony wrote down the general's phone number. "That's his office phone number. They can connect you. If they won't, tell them you're calling on Jethro's behalf. He liked Jethro. The man has no sense of humor but he and Jethro were telling jokes to each other. It's a good plan for the people."
The man clapped him on the shoulder. "It's a brave thing, son."
He smiled. "Not really. We're at least friends. It's not the Danish princess." He laughed and walked off, Tony going with him. He smiled at the curious looking men. "It came down to a choice between a princess from the Northern part of Europe who likes fairies and angels or Gibbs," he said. They all shuddered.
"Their military refused to work with her."
"Gibbs and I can do a lot to help people," Tony agreed. They all gaped. "I'm hoping it won't cause many problems and that people can be a bit tolerant for a few more months at the very least?"
The Vice President stared at him. "Political marriages are always hard. I didn't like mine when mine was chosen for me, DiNozzo. When's the wedding?"
"They want three months. Gibbs reaches twenty years in six."
The VP thought about it then shrugged. "Can they move it back?"
Tony looked at him. "The clothing guild pounced me when there were only rumors they were going to choose me one, sir." That got a laugh. "I'm foreseeing a lot of people doing the pee-pee dance at home."
That got a louder laugh and a nod. "I'll break it to the president gently," the VP assured him with a smirk. "You're telling your people when?"
"Tomorrow morning and we'd like to keep it quiet if possible." He gave a pointed look at the director and smiled, waving a bit when he caught her looking. He looked at them again. "We've already had two talks about my position."
The other men nodded. "I can keep her off your back, DiNozzo," the SecNav promised. "I'll talk to Jethro when he appears tomorrow afternoon. After one please." Tony nodded at that. "Are you going to poach?"
"If at all possible the whole team, Abby, and Ducky, sir."
"We'll miss Ducky and Abby's always livened up the agency," he sighed. "I know they'll do good work with you over there. Plus they'll be safer. I also know that you'll work with us on serious issues." He clapped him on the back. "Go rest, Agent DiNozzo. You look tired."
"I'm sure it's about to get worse," he said grimly, nodding politely before leaving. He made it home and stretched out on his couch, falling asleep thinking about things. He had *no* idea what to do with any spouse, much less a husband. How would he find out what he was doing without going to someone his people wouldn't consider good for his reputation?