Rating: R to be safe
Disclaimer: I don't own anything from the Expendables or NCIS:LA and am not making money from this fic.
Warning(s): Parental discipline of an adult.
Verse/Setting: Post-Expendables 1, 2, and 3. Pre-Season 5 NCIS:LA
Summary: Barney Ross discovers he isn’t exactly alone in the world when it comes to family- and it isn’t because of some Hallmark moment when he realized what his team meant to him. Too bad his kid appears to be mixed up in some really bad business.
*song lyrics come from the song Diamond Eyes (Boom-lay) by Shinedown.
*I am the shadow, and the smoke in your eyes,
I am the ghost, that hides in the night…
Martin Deeks sighed softly and leaned back into his couch, scratching behind his dog’s ears when the mutt put its muzzle on his lap. He didn’t know what to do. He honestly didn’t. Staring at the box of old memorabilia that had been delivered to him at work, just that morning, he tried to wrap his head around the information unearthed. He’d thought he’d buried the ghosts of dreams that would never come true- as far as his family was concerned- when he’d buried his mother. He’d stopped being a child at that point; had to grow up quick. But now, it appeared there was still one more ghost for him to face- mentally if not physically. He looked at the box again.
The fact that he even had the box was a miracle in itself- it had belonged to his mother and considering she’d been dead since before he was a teenager and he hadn’t known her old friend, the fact that the children of said old friend would take time and effort to locate him and give the box to him was a statement to the woman she was and the friendship she had formed. He only wished they’d found the box sooner so he would have known.
Gordon John Brandel was not his father.
His father is a man named Barney Ross.
Marty wishes he could have said he handled the news with calm acceptance and aplomb. He wishes he could say that. Instead it throws him completely off his game- the knowledge that he might not have needed to grow up with an alcoholic abuser, if his mother had told the truth about who his father really was, hurts for more than one reason. Not that he wants to examine his feelings on the subject all that closely. It’s all water under the bridge by this point and even if he is reeling from the news that his mother hid such a vital piece of information from him, it isn’t as if anything can be done about it now. All participating parties to the situation- his mother, her friend who had the box, Gordon John Brandel- they’re all dead now.
He doesn’t know about Barney Ross. His actual blood father might be alive. Unfortunately, he isn’t sure if he wants to try and find the man. What exactly would he say, anyway? ‘Congratulations! It’s a 39-year-old not-so-bouncing-baby boy!’? Yeah. No. He grew up without a father. He doesn’t count Brandel, even if he’d thought for years the asshole spawned him. He doesn’t need one now- despite what Callen, Kensi, or Sam might like to imply.
In any case, it throws him and it is because of that he doesn’t hesitate or even question the need when SecNav and Director Leon Vance approach him to go undercover as Max Gentry again. Marty really hates Max Gentry. Max is the opposite of everything Marty believes is good and right and the antithesis of what he wants to be. (Max is exactly like Brandel.) Unfortunately, Max is who they need, and Marty has been questioning everything about himself and who he is since finding out the truth; it doesn’t take much if any persuading on their part to convince him to sign onto the operation.
And then he finds out what the operation is going to involve and he really wishes he’d just stayed home sick for a day… or a week… or a month or two… until they found another way to get their information. Apparently some of Gentry’s old contacts have become chummy with an arms dealer named Lawrence Tuggle, who they believe has gotten hold of (they can’t prove he stole them) a shipment of weapons from one of the Navy storage facilities, and is planning to sell the weapons to various terrorist cells. SecNav and Vance need information on him- yesterday- and getting an agent in with a new cover would take months that they don’t think they have. Given the fact that Gentry’s contacts already have an in, they figure Deeks can use his ready-made cover to somehow get close to the creep and get the needed information. There’s one rather important caveat that worries Marty. The only ones to know he is going under cover will be SecNav, Vance, and Owen Granger who will be his handler.
Kensi? Callen and Sam? Hetty? All the people he has looked on as family since becoming an agent with the LA branch of NCIS will have to believe he’s turned. They’ll have to believe he’s decided to take on the persona of Max Gentry permanently and for real. It’s the only way to keep him safe if someone digs deep enough to find out his real name. He really hopes nothing happens to SecNav, Vance, or Granger; if it does he’ll never get his name cleared and will be a fugitive for the rest of his life.
*Wait, wait a minute take a step back
you gotta think twice before you react
Seven months later….
“You’re certain about this?” Barney Ross looked at Max Drummer, face unreadable except for the slightly interested look in his eyes.
“All the intel is good. The computer disk my agent obtained had other information that has all turned out completely true. That doesn’t mean you just go in without doing a bit of recon yourself, but we’re fairly certain that the stolen nuke is there,” Drummer answered, then gave the mercenary a tiny smile. “Pakistan, of course, is denying that they lost one of their nuclear warheads even as they are telling us to mind our own business and stay out. This means, this is an operation that can’t be tied to the government. You understand of course.”
Barney snorted. “Of course. Plausible deniability is what pays my bills.”
Drummer’s smile grew. “Yeah. I knew that wouldn’t be a problem. You know who you want to take on your team?”
“Christmas, definitely. Probably Gunnar, Yang, and Caesar. Galgo would come whether I wanted him or not, so better to just include and make plans for him from the beginning. I might be able to convince the kids if they don’t already have a mission of their own. I’ll have to ask the others.” Barney shrugged. “Hell- I might have to recruit an entirely new team. Dunno. Probably better if you don’t know exactly who I have though. Again that plausible deny thing.”
“Yeah,” Drummer nodded. “Here’s the information I have,” he handed over a thumb-drive. “Bonaparte can get you any equipment you don’t already have…” he paused as if trying to decide whether to say the next bit or not.
“Just spit it out Max…” Barney groused.
The other man sighed. “On the thumb-drive is all the information you’ll need to locate the warhead…the last known location…the players involved…where it most likely is being held at the moment…” he paused again, only to continue at Barney’s annoyed grunt. “We researched all the players, and all gathered information about them is on the drive. I wanted to warn you about one particular player in question though. Max Gentry.”
Barney frowned. “What’s so special about this Max Gentry, then? He some kinda master-mind genius that can sense his enemies coming from ten miles away or something? He got super-powers?” The old merc chuckled at his own humor.
“No. Nothing like that…” Drummer attempted a smile, but his eyes were still very serious. “…he’s not a big player at all really. He just joined up with Tuggle’s group about five months ago. What makes him unique is that his real name isn’t Max Gentry. Apparently, he’s an ex-LAPD detective turned ex-NCIS agent turned traitor to his country…” the operative sighed. “While he was still a legit detective working on the side of the angels, his under-cover persona was Max Gentry. When he became disillusioned and decided he was going to say hell with it and follow the money- he just took on the persona permanently and dropped his real name as if he’d never been a police detective or government agent.”
Barney scowled. He hated when good men went bad. It somehow seemed so much worse than if they were bad from the very beginning. “What’s his real name?”
“As a detective and agent, his name was Martin Deeks. When he was a kid, his name was Martin Brandel. But…after having one of my guys snoop around a bit, we discovered he had a safe deposit box. In it was documentation that….well… we learned Brandel wasn’t really his father.” Before Barney could get even more frustrated at how slowly he was handing out information, Drummer continued. “His real father was one Barney Ross. Your kid’s working with the bad guys, Barney.”
One week later…
“Hey Lee…” Barney squatted down next to his best friend and held his hands out toward the fire.
Lee Christmas glanced at his oldest friend questioningly. “Hey Barney…we’re still going in tomorrow, right?”
“Yeah. Everything points to the nuke being in the camp. Tuggle is looking to sell to the highest bidding terrorist cell. He’s also put out feelers for a group of mercs to deliver the package once a buyer is found. Seems that none of his guys like the idea of being near a nuke for any length of time and don’t want to be near it if something goes wrong…” Barney chuckled, his voice was low. “…I’ve already contacted him and taken the job of ‘delivering’ the package to his buyer. When we’re far enough away, Drummer has some people ready to take it off our hands and get it to a safe location.” He paused before continuing, “You find out anything else on that side-job I gave to you?” He tried to keep the hope out of his voice, but it was difficult.
“I did,” Lee nodded, dropping his voice down a little bit lower to make certain no one who wasn’t a member of the Expendables would hear what was said. “…He’s got a really nasty reputation from before he started working with Tuggle. Since joining, he’s kept mostly to himself and apparently has a temper- but one of the locals swears that he stepped in and kept her baby sister from being raped, and another one swears that he saved them from being beaten to death when one of Tuggle’s muscle falsely accused them of stealing money. He paid the goon out of his own pocket and told him to ‘let him handle it’. Most of Tuggle’s gang seems to like him- he’s personable and he does a good job- so they overlook his quirks. The fact that he nearly killed one of the ‘inner circle’ when the guy accused him of double crossing them, has most of the ones who don’t like him giving a wide berth. It’s all mixed signals as far as being able to tell how far into the gang he is- if you could convince him to leave and join you or if he’d stab you in the back….” Barney’s friend snorted laconically. “….guess we’ll find out when you try to step in and introduce yourself. He comes home with you- he’s confused and misguided. He kills ya, he’s as bad as they say.”
Barney snorted himself. “Gee, thanks Christmas. You don’t have to sound so excited about the prospect of my own kid doing me in!” He smiled at the other man.
“We all know if you get done in, it will be an ex or a kid Ross!” Caesar teased from across the fire.
Barney held up his middle finger then took a swig of the bottle passed to him. “We go in tomorrow…” he finally said before standing and heading to where his bedroll was.
*so stay, stay a little while
because the promise not kept is the road to exile
Three days later…
Deeks was frustrated, and weary, and to be honest he was scared as hell- all the time- that his subterfuge was about to be discovered and he’d be buried in a shallow ditch forgotten by time and everyone else too. The only question being, if it’d be a quick death or long and drawn out. Only the fact that he knew what he was doing was very important, kept him from giving up and ‘disappearing’. That and the fact that there was no guarantee Granger and Vance would be able to help him if he ticked off SecNav by not doing what he’d agreed.
Taking a deep breath and pushing his nerves back down, he carefully sent his encrypted message back to Granger. He’d already sent him a list of names of the various terrorist cells Tuggle was dealing with. He’d also sent information on bank accounts and other information that hadn’t been discovered before- or at least information that hadn’t been shared among all the alphabets before. He suspected some of what he’d uncovered was already known by the CIA- but they weren’t known for sharing unless they had to.
The most important piece of information he had to send back was that there was an honest-to-God nuclear warhead in the camp. Tuggle had somehow gotten his hands on a stolen nuke. It was terrifying. And he wasn’t sure what he should do. It wasn’t like he could steal it back from him- not all on his own. He supposed if worse came to worse, he could dismantle it- but disarming nuclear bombs wasn’t really one of the qualifications that had put him in this job and he’d rather not blow himself up and expose everyone else within a fifty mile (or more) radius of him to radiation. It was….terrifying.
And now there was a group of mercs that had gotten themselves hired by Tuggle- they were originally supposed to deliver the nuke to the buyer (who Deeks had unfortunately not been able to get the identity of yet). But Tuggle being Tuggle, they were now going to help move the nuke to another more secure location because apparently the dealer was worried that information had gotten out to the authorities about his transaction (and Deeks knew he’d been careful enough to hide his activities, so he wasn’t certain who had spooked the dealer). Tuggle wanted to move the warhead to a more secure location and had somehow decided that hiring the mercenaries to move it was the best course of action. It just added to Deeks’ nightmarish headache. He hadn’t been able to get any information on the mercs and had to decide if he stayed with Tuggle or went with the weapon. He hadn’t received any instructions from Granger on what he should do.
If he followed the mercs, it would blow his cover to hell, so he could only hope that if he didn’t follow the nuke, SecNav and Vance had something up their sleeve to keep tabs on it.
What mattered for him personally was the mercs who were going to do the moving. They all kept finding excuses to ‘bump into him’ in camp; starting random conversations and asking questions that he couldn’t answer. He was pretty sure at least two of them were following him. And one of them- the one in charge- kept giving him ‘helpful’ advice…which was to say not really helpful at all considering he was putting on an act to fool Tuggle’s gang and couldn’t do what the older man was suggesting. If he’d truly been Max Gentry, suggestions that he should join up with the band of mercs because there would be more money and he wouldn’t have to worry about offending any zealots, would have been somewhat decent- if unwelcome- suggestions. He had to stay here and watch Tuggle and report on it. All he could do was growl at the old man and tell him to mind his own fucking business- in exactly those words. Max wasn’t terribly polite and why use a more educated word when he could be abrasive and obnoxious?
He really couldn’t figure out why the mercs had picked him out of all the other people in the camp to follow and harass. He felt like he should know why, but it made no sense. Barney Christmas- that was how the leader introduced himself- seemed a fair man and liked by all his team. Didn’t really seem like the sort to deal with terrorists either- or deal with men who dealt with terrorists. It was another mystery to confuse the situation.
He hoped Granger could get back to him soon and let him know how he should handle the warhead situation. He’d be lucky if an ulcer was the least of the problems he got from this mess.
“I don’t trust them…” he found himself saying several hours later to Tuggle. What he’d really like to do was…well he was an officer of the law and courts frowned on you killing an unarmed man when you weren’t in battle, no matter who it was you were killing. So unless Tuggle threatened his life, he couldn’t rightfully just get rid of him, no matter how much he wished it. Still… “I’m thinking maybe I should go along with them- make certain they aren’t double crossing you and keep an eye on the package until you are ready to deliver to the buyer…” he continued. He’d finally realized if he could get Tuggle to agree to him staying with the nuke, it would take care of his problem. He’d know exactly where the weapon was at all times…plus it might even help him get in deeper with Tuggle and find more information. If nothing else, he’d at least be able to report who ended up with the weapon, instead of it disappearing and having no clue.
“Yeah?” Tuggle eyed him speculatively. “You do that then. Keep them as honest as mercs are able to be at least. But you better not double cross me, Gentry…you won’t be keeping your pretty face for long if you double cross me.” The man’s tone was jovial and friendly- but the months of being in his company enabled Deeks to see the malice and threat underneath that emphasized the words being said.
“Of course not, Larry…” Deeks smiled at Tuggle. “You treat me good. I won’t turn on you.”
“See that you don’t.”
“Of course not, Larry…” Deeks mumbled under his breath as the small convoy of mercs went the opposite direction of where they were supposed to be going. “I knew they were up to no good…and I’m going to be blamed for it if I can’t find a way to stop them….” He was following the convoy on a motorcycle, not having liked the idea of surrounding himself with potential enemy if something went down. He needed the freedom to move after all. Turns out he was right to think of that as a possible scenario.
He had to slow the trucks down. Had to somehow block the truck carrying the nuke. He couldn’t allow it to just disappear with the mercs who could sell it to God only knew who or where. The fact that he might be blamed for it disappearing and have months of undercover work ruined by these bastards was only a distant second in importance to him. If he could stop both events from occurring? If he could keep the nuke within his sphere of influence and convince Tuggle that he was a strong team player that was firmly on the dealer’s team? That was the best case scenario.
Deeks knew from months of examining and memorizing various maps that they were heading toward an old abandoned airfield. He also knew that the road narrowed dangerously at one certain point and if he could somehow block the road at that point, the truck with the nuke wouldn’t be able to proceed- since the road was surrounded by very dense forest. Like most convoys- small or otherwise- the mercs had placed the truck carrying the nuke in the middle of the vehicles to offer protection from frontal and rear assault. All Deeks needed to do was cause the lead vehicle to crash in such a way as to block the road. He already knew Tuggle was aware of the mercenaries actions so he wouldn’t need to contact the dealer- he was likely already on his way.
Taking a deep breath, Deeks gunned the motorcycle to race up the side of the convoy. “I hate this…” he muttered, even as he prepared himself for what he was about to do.
*HEY! whats the circumstance
you'll never be great without taking a chance so
wait, you waited too long
had your hands in your pocket
when you shoulda been gone
“What’s the kid doing?!” Barney growled as he noticed Marty speed by on the motorcycle. He’d attempted to get the kid to ride in the truck with him- he and Lee were driving the truck holding the nuke- but the kid had been adamantly against it, choosing to have the freedom of riding solo on his bike.
“Looks like he’s trying to get to the front…probably going to try and stop you, Pappi!” Lee snorted; part in annoyance, part in amusement.
Barney shot him a look. “Don’t call me that…” he said drolly, shaking his head. “Guess he figured out we weren’t going to the secret hiding spot sooner than I wanted- and decided to do something about it right away instead of waiting like I’d hoped.” He sighed, picking up the radio and flipping it on. “Caesar, the kid is heading your way and looks like he’s up to something. Make sure you’re all buckled up and ready for anything….”
“Got it boss!” was the answer received a few seconds later. Not too soon as Barney could see the kid pull level with the lead truck.
“What the fuck is he…” Christmas’s shocked voice carried through all the radios as they watched Marty pull a few feet in front of the lead truck, stand up on the seat, and then send the bike careening in front of the truck while he threw himself off to the side. “….he’s committing suicide by truck!?”
No one else could say anything. Caesar was too busy standing on his breaks to try and avoid hitting the now driverless motorcycle at full speed. He still hit it- and the truck wasn’t going to be moving after it finally stopped- but at least the truck didn’t flip or go into the trees.
Barney was in too much shock at his son’s actions to say anything- his breath caught in his throat as he simultaneously put on the breaks to avoid crashing into the back of the lead truck (which would have been very bad while carrying a nuke) and also looked to see where Marty had ended up.
The truck following was in much the same situation- finally stopping only centimeters from the back of the truck carrying the missile.
For a few seconds, all was silent…and then Barney’s team was falling out of vehicles like ants exiting an anthill, cursing and checking on vehicles, teammates, and cargo.
“Where’s the little shit?” Barney finally gasped out, relieved that his team was alright, but still extremely worried about the kid- his kid- who had done something so dangerous and possibly deadly. His eyes followed Lee’s outstretched arm as the man wordlessly pointed toward the edge of the road where Marty was propped up against one of the trees and trying to look small and inconspicuous. “Call Drummer. Have him bring another truck to transfer the nuke into so we can get it to the plane- he should only be five minutes away…” he growled, not even glancing toward his best friend since he knew Christmas would take care of getting it done. He then stalked his way to the form of his son.
Marty tried to stand up to face the irate man coming his way, but he’d managed to hurt his ankle in his bid to stop the truck and it didn’t want to hold his weight. Luckily he was still against the tree, so he was able to use the rough bark and sturdy trunk to keep himself in place…hopefully not appearing as wounded and vulnerable as he felt. It must have worked to some degree because as soon as Barney Christmas reached him, the man had pulled him forward in a sideways grip and landed five extremely hard smacks to his ass.
Marty was in too much shock to say or do anything, instead staring at the other man with wide eyes as he quickly tried to step away lest he be given another five hard smacks. Of course that meant stepping onto his ankle and falling to the ground with a cry of pain.
“Shit…you’re wounded…I’m sorry kid…” Barney’s change of temper from punishing authority figure to worried care-giver would have given Marty whiplash if he’d not been in too much pain to pay attention to it. “Just lay still, son… Christmas! I need help here!” he yelled to his oldest and best friend, knowing without looking that Lee was coming to them.
“You both have the same last name…” Marty said in an attempt to take his mind off the pain of his leg and the shock that he’d actually just been spanked by the mercenary who he had attempted to stop from stealing a nuke. His life was unbelievable sometimes. “You must be brothers…” he finished lamely and then gasped as Christmas had arrived by that time and was prodding his leg.
Lee ignored the younger man’s rambling, talking to Barney instead. “It looks broken, but we don’t have time to set the bone. We’ve gotta get out of here...” he pointed at the truck that had just arrived from the airfield- the rest of the team loading the nuke onto it and preparing to take off again. “…Can’t leave him either. Tuggle will be here soon and he’ll likely shoot first, ask questions never. He’s going to have to come with us if you want to take care of him….”
“Just leave me!” Marty groaned. He needed to return to Tuggle and finish his op. The fact he’d been wounded in the attempt to stop them should gain him at least a little bit of trust from the dealer. He could tell immediately that Barney wasn’t enamored of the idea. “It’s obvious I tried to stop you- he’s not going to believe I betrayed him like you did….” He glared at the mercenaries – not because he was overly upset at them betraying Tuggle but because they had managed to screw his mission to hell and back.
“Not gonna happen kid…” Barney made to pick the younger man up so that he could carry him to the truck when he suddenly found a gun pointing at his face.
“Leave me behind…” Marty managed somehow to keep his voice even and threatening. He hoped either of the Christmases didn’t try and call his bluff- he couldn’t pull the trigger on a man who was actually concerned about and trying to help him. But he really couldn’t go with the mercenaries. He had to finish his mission.
Barney frowned and would have argued if Lee hadn’t pulled him back and away from the kid. “He wants to stay we don’t have time to argue…” he said, giving Marty an indecipherable look. “C’mon boss…”
Barney swallowed hard. The thought of leaving his child wounded for a man like Tuggle to find and retrieve- when he wasn’t certain Tuggle wouldn’t take out the anger of his loss on the boy, even if the boy had tried to stop them- it made leaving physically painful. But Lee was right. They had to go before Tuggle got there. And he knew Tuggle wouldn’t hesitate to kill him and Lee, so if he had any hope of getting his boy back later, he would have to leave him now and hope that Tuggle didn’t just shoot him in the head before Barney had a chance to get him back.
“Yeah. Fine….” He finally ground out. The look he gave Marty was stern though, almost a promise. “Take care of yourself. I’ll be seeing you again real soon…” he said before standing and running to the waiting truck, Christmas tugging him up and into the back, even as it was tearing away down the road.
Marty swallowed hard wondering just what that look and words meant. “Damnit…” he moaned and leaned back into the tree again. About five minutes after the mercs had disappeared, Tuggle’s crew arrived. Marty passed out before he could plead his case.
*I'm on the front line
Don't worry I'll be fine
the story is just beginning
Tuggle hadn’t been happy. He’d allowed all the other men to take out the loss of the money that the nuke would have brought on Marty- even though Marty had tried to stop it from happening. The only concession Tuggle had made for the fact that it in fact it wasn’t Marty’s fault that the nuke had been stolen from him, and was actually his own fault for not listening to Marty’s warnings, was that he forbid any of his men from killing Marty or from doing permanent harm. They could make him hurt- but if he became unable to do his job, the one that caused him to be unable to do his job would receive a shot between the eyes courtesy of Tuggle. He’d said so to the entire group and in front of Marty, so Marty was fairly certain he wouldn’t die at least. Not unless his cover got blown.
In a way, being wounded in the attempt to prevent the mercs from taking the nuke had helped him. Until his leg had healed enough that he could walk on it again, Tuggle had assigned him to office work. This enabled him to hack into the computers without having to be afraid of being caught in an area he wasn’t supposed to be in. He just had to be certain that he didn’t leave any trail or trace that he’d been hacking them. He’d gotten quite a lot of information in that way. A little over three weeks later and there was really only one more piece of information he needed. He just wasn’t certain how he was going to get it, since it wasn’t on the computers and Tuggle kept it in a safe in his personal room and not in the office.
“You’re leg is doing a lot better…” Tuggle commented off-handedly toward the end of the second week. “Think it’s about time you started doing your share around camp. The rest of the fellas are getting jealous you get to sit all day…” the man chuckled softly but it was obvious he wasn’t joking.
Marty nodded. “Yeah. May not be able to walk fast, but I should at least be able to do what needs doing…” he agreed. If he was lucky, he’d find a way to sneak into Tuggle’s rooms and locate the last piece he needed.
“Good. You’ll start tomorrow,” Tuggle’s instruction was brief, but it wasn’t like Marty didn’t know what needed to be done.
“I gotta go back and get him…” Barney said for the twentieth time in as many minutes.
Drummer sighed. “And if you go back and get him, what then? You know the info I pulled up on Tuggle. The guy is one of the worst of the worst and the fact he didn’t kill your kid the minute he got to him after you took the nuke…” he stopped talking though. He had enough self-preservation to know better than to suggest Barney’s kid was as bad as the arms dealer.
Barney just shot the other man a dark look before sighing. “I know the chance of him being beyond saving is high- given what we know of him and given his background. But I also know that when we were there- it was obvious he wasn’t as cold and callous as so many of the men working for Tuggle. Hell! He isn’t as cold and calloused as some of us!” He motioned backwards to where the rest of his team stood and waited for further instructions. “I can’t help but think that if I can get him out from under Tuggle’s thumb, I can straighten him out….”
Drummer sighed again. “Fine. They moved base a few days after you took the nuke- but we have a location. You go in, grab the kid, and get out. If you’re caught you’re on your own. I’ll tell whoever asks that you stole the plane and equipment….”
“Thanks Max…” Barney said with a hint of relief.
Drummer rolled his eyes. “You can thank me by getting the kid out and getting him under control….”
Granger was beyond pissed and had passed beyond worried three weeks before. He was supposed to be the kid’s handler- the only point of contact he had to what was going on outside the camp that he was currently holed up in- and somehow connections had gotten screwed up to the point where he hadn’t been able to make contact at all for three weeks. Considering the last bit of information he’d received from Deeks was information regarding a stolen nuke that somehow Lawrence Tuggle had gotten hold of and was planning to sell, he wasn’t optimistic.
The worst of it was- if he wasn’t able to make contact with the kid again, Hetty would have his head on a pike outside her office door. And the rest of her team would most likely split the rest of him up amongst themselves to warn off any other deluded sons of bitches that wanted to take members of their team and send them on highly dangerous, highly classified ops that had little in the way of support. Oh- he could always point to Vance and SecNav as being the ultimate responsible parties- but since they were in D.C. and he was here….
And yeah- all of Martin Deeks team had been led to believe that he’d flipped sides. That he was a traitor. But he could tell none of them really wanted to believe it. If he told them the truth, they’d be more than willing to accept it. It would likely be easier if he never told them. But if something happened to the kid- he deserved to at least have his friends remember him the right way- even if the rest of the world wouldn’t know. Taking a deep breath, he walked into Hetty’s office.
Hetty had connections. Of course she did. He had connections too, but nothing like Hetty’s connections. All he’d had to do was explain what was really going on with Deeks…and then explain that the kid hadn’t checked in for entirely too long…and she’d made a call. Next thing he knew he was on a plane with a group of men that he hadn’t even known existed before, going after the kid. Oh…and the kicker? The leader of the men was Deeks’ father. How was this, his life?
Shaking his head, he glanced toward Barney Ross. “So you took care of the nuke he was worried about?”
“Turned it over to someone who could. Didn’t ask questions. It’s someone friendly to America if you’re worried.” Ross commented, leaning back into his seat.
“Not worried. I know who you gave it to. Pissed that they compartmentalize everything so much they don’t feel the need to let the rest of us know our ops are about to be derailed by them…but getting used to it by now.” Granger sounded resigned and tired, which drew a chuckle from Barney. “I am worried about the kid. He hasn’t contacted me like he was meant to. I don’t know how the hell I’m supposed to help him stay safe or get him out when he needs if he doesn’t let me know what’s up….” This time Granger sounded frustrated. Barney could relate.
“If it helps, last intel I got on him he was still alive and in Tuggle’s inner circle. Him trying to stop us from taking the nuke convinced the man that he could be trusted with more sensitive jobs.” Barney shrugged and if Granger hadn’t been looking closely he wouldn’t have noticed the fleeting look of worry and irritation on Barney’s face.
“You seem upset by that…” Granger couldn’t help but sound confused. If Barney Ross was Marty’s father and if he was going in to retrieve Marty from what he believed was a bad situation, you’d think he’d be happier at finding out Deeks had made himself important to the arms dealer. Tuggle was less likely to kill Marty that way.
Barney shook his head. “Not upset that he’s ok and in Tuggle’s good graces. Upset that he’s still there at all. I tried to take him out with us when we got the nuke- and he refused to go. Held a gun to my head and told me in no uncertain terms he was staying. Of course at the time I thought he was actually working for the man…not undercover.” Barney smiled a crooked, unhappy smile. “Now that I know he’s undercover, I’m happier that he isn’t a scumbag…but more worried that he’ll get caught and irritated that he didn’t take the opportunity to get out- even if he was doing his job.
Granger grimaced. “If I’d been able to contact him- received his message before everything went down- I would have told him to get out with you. The fact he had a nuke that he wanted to sell and that Marty had proof of it, would have been enough to bring Tuggle in and interrogate him to get the other information we needed. He was trying to prove something, but what or to whom I don’t know.”
Granger turned toward Ross. “So…does he know you’re his father?”
“No. I gave him a false name when we first met. Wasn’t sure if he was truly on Tuggle’s side or not. Wanted to get an idea if he actually would want to meet me before letting him know who I really was.” Ross sighed. “Not sure how he’s going to take the truth when I finally have a chance to sit him down and have it out- but if there’s one thing I learned watching him…he needs me. He takes entirely too many risks…and this coming from a man who lives life on the edge almost constantly….” He snorted.
Granger snorted as well. “Yeah. Good luck taming that….”
*Hey! it's like deja vu
a suicidal maniac with nothing to lose
Marty had been trying really hard to not become discouraged or do anything foolish. He needed to get out of this camp. He needed to get away from Tuggle and his gang of thugs- their cruelty was wearing him down and there was only so many times he could step in and try and help the innocents caught in their crosshairs before someone started questioning his own involvement with Tuggle. As a result he’d had to let many things go that he would have preferred to stop- and it made him feel dirty and hollow inside.
And he had yet to figure out a way to get into Tuggle’s personal rooms. The last bit of information he needed was there- and he could never catch enough of a break so that he could go get it. He was so ready for this whole situation to be over. So when the distraction came- in the form of those mercenaries returning to avail themselves of more of Tuggle’s hidden weapons cache- Deeks thought it was a godsend. He’d quickly headed in the direction of Tuggle’s rooms while Tuggle and the rest of the camp went out to fight against Barney Christmas and his crew.
At least that had been the plan. The fact that he ran into Christmas on his way to the rooms and the older man grabbed hold of him and made to drag him to some unspecified destination, sorta threw a wrench in the works. And then he saw Owen Granger and he wasn’t sure what to think or do. “Granger?” he finally asked in completely confused bafflement.
“It’s time to come home kid…you did good…” was all Granger would say as he began to lead Christmas and Deeks away from where Deeks needed to be.
“No…wait…the cipher. I need to get it…” he tugged free of Christmas’s grip and turned to head back toward Tuggle’s rooms.
“Deeks…no. There are too many of them. We’ll find another way to get the information from the cipher without you putting yourself in more danger…” Granger frowned. “…get a move on agent. That’s an order.”
“Sorry…” Deeks shook his head. “…I can’t just leave it. I’ll meet you at the transport…” and then he was taking off before Barney or Owen could grab him.
He had moved too quickly for Granger and Barney to follow him, Marty noticed. He didn’t slow down though- this was the only opportunity he was going to have and he was determined to make the most of it. Barely glancing around to make certain no one else was in the room, Deeks began to search Tuggle’s private quarters, hunting for the cypher.
“Where is it…?” he muttered to himself, getting more and more nervous and frustrated the longer it took him to locate the safe he was looking for. He’d looked in every place in the room he could think of. Had he been wrong? Had the safe with the cypher in it been somewhere else completely? He’d been so certain that Tuggle would keep it close to him and not somewhere away from him- the man’s ego knew no bounds so he would have been sure he could protect it. It made sense that it was somewhere near…but Marty was having no luck finding it.
Just as he was about to give up and admit defeat, he noticed a framed photograph inside a drawer. It was of Tuggle and no one else, so it made Deeks wonder, why frame it if Tuggle wasn’t planning to display it? Quickly pulling the frame out and removing the backing from it, he let out a tiny huff of happy excitement. There, taped to the back of the picture, was a thumb-drive. Hopefully it was the cypher. If not, it likely had other useful information on it. Quickly replacing the backing on the photo and putting it back into the drawer, Deeks pocketed the drive and made to leave the room…only to be caught by Tuggle on his way out the door.
“You brought this down on me boy…” Tuggle growled as he raised the gun he carried. “You’re gonna pay with your life….”
Deeks was more surprised than he should have been when the gun discharged and he actually was shot.
*Every night of my life
I watch angels fall from the sky
Every time that the sun still sets
I pray they don't take mine
The beeping of machinery was the first thing Marty registered when he came to. The second thing he registered was that Barney Christmas was sitting next to his bed. He frowned in confusion. “I’m alive?” he said with some bit of surprise.
“Yeah. No thanks to you running off and leaving any sort of back-up behind in the dust…” Barney’s voice was anything but impressed.
Deeks let out a tiny sigh, still drowsy enough and confused enough from the meds and everything else to ignore the other man’s tone. “What happened,” he croaked out through dry lips.
Barney poured a tiny cup of water then held it to Marty’s lips, pulling it back before the younger man could make himself sick by gulping it. He ignored the tiny whimper of disappointment from his son as he held the water just out of reach. “Sip…not chug….” He waited to get a nod of acknowledgement from Marty before holding the cup to his son’s mouth again and answering him at the same time.
“Tuggle pulled his gun and was going to shoot you in the head. Caesar happened to have noticed Tuggle heading away from the main fight and thought he was going after something that might be useful…followed him. He saw as you came out of the room at the same time Tuggle did.” Barney gave Marty a disappointed and disapproving look. “He jumped on Tuggle just as he pulled the trigger. Instead of a shot to the head, you got a shot to the shoulder.”
“Oh…ow. That would explain why I can’t move my arm then….” Deeks winced. “Granger still around?” he asked not certain if he really wanted to see his boss or not, since he had disobeyed a direct order. “I’ve got to give him the cypher….”
“He has it. They found it when they undressed you to treat your wounds.” Barney snorted as Marty blinked and looked down as if just realizing he was wearing nothing but a hospital gown. “He’s not too happy with you trying to get yourself killed for it- against his express orders. I’m more than not happy with it….”
Deeks blinked. “Uh…I can understand Granger being upset, but why would you care?”
Barney settled back in the chair and gave Marty a grin. “Because I lied to you. My name isn’t Barney Christmas. It’s Barney Ross.”
Somehow, Deeks had envisioned meeting his real father as being more hands off and cautious; two strangers trying to make sense of a situation that neither of them had really prepared for. It hadn’t been like that at all. As soon as Barney had confessed his real name, he’d also admitted that he’d known Marty was his son from the very beginning. He just hadn’t been sure if Marty wanted a father or even needed one- and given the fact Barney had believed Deeks was a true member of Tuggle’s crew and he’d been hired to steal from Tuggle, he figured it would be better to wait until that situation was taken care of to make his move.
Of course that had all flown out the window when Deeks had attempted to stop them from taking the nuke. He’d wanted to drag his son back with him at that moment, but Deeks had made it clear his loyalty was with Tuggle and Barney had needed to come up with an alternate way of reaching the younger man. Finding out that Deeks was really undercover had eased his worry about his son’s loyalties, but it hadn’t helped him figure out a way to get Deeks out of the mess he was in.
And then Granger had come searching for his missing agent and notes had been compared and plans had been made and they’d almost gotten Marty out of Tuggle’s grip without any injury. Of course Marty had to completely throw caution to the wind and ignore a direct order to get information that Granger had told him wasn’t necessary. Barney- his father- hadn’t been terribly impressed by that.
Barney hadn’t been impressed at all. In fact he kept dropping hints about addressing his son’s behavior as soon as Marty was fit enough to be released from the hospital. Which Marty found very confusing. If he was going to be disciplined for disobeying an order, he figured it would be Granger doling out the discipline. Granger had only popped into the hospital for a few short minutes to let him know that the team was aware that he wasn’t a traitor and that his job was waiting for him when he got out of rehab. His handler didn’t say anything about leave without pay or suspension or being under any type of supervisory action for his disobedience. He acted like he wasn’t going to do anything at all.
No…Granger didn’t say anything; but his father- Barney- kept hinting at what he was going to do. It was confusing and finally Marty couldn’t help but ask, “What are you going to do? Granger hasn’t even done anything and he’s my boss- what exactly do you think you’re going to do?”
Barney smiled slowly. “Well, see son. Granger made a deal with me. I give him all the information that my team had on Tuggle- things that you wouldn’t have had opportunity to learn- and in exchange he let me handle your discipline. As for what I’m going to do- I think if you’ll think back to that day you threw yourself in front of a truck and nearly brained yourself on a tree, you’ll remember what I did. I’m going to do more of the same. Only it’s going to be longer, harder, and with less armor keeping my hand from its target.”
“You wouldn’t!” Deeks eyes were wide as saucers and if he hadn’t been connected to all kinds of wires and monitors he probably would have jumped out of the bed to put some distance between him and his father. As it was, the heart monitor sped up embarrassingly, telling his father just how nervous the promise (and he was certain it was a promise, not a threat) made him.
“I will…if you accept me. If you refuse, I can contact Granger and he can go ahead and reinstate the disciplinary measures he had planned on before I made the deal with him. I want you in my life son- I want to be your father. But part of being your father is making sure you are safe and healthy and when you deliberately take chances with your life that aren’t necessary….” Barney swallowed hard.
He continued. “I can’t be hands off and watch you do things that might take you from me. Not when I just found you. I’ve always wanted you, even before I knew you existed. So if you accept me into your life - you’re going to have to accept that I’m hands on and that risking your life without good reason- especially when your superior officer orders you not to- is not tolerated. And doing so will get you punished- at my hand….every time.”
Barney slanted his head and observed Marty closely. “Can you accept that? Or should I call Granger back and tell him our deal is off and you want an official reprimand?”
Deeks closed his eyes tightly and whimpered. He didn’t want his father to punish him. At the same time- the man had been sitting by his bedside for over a week while he recovered. They’d gotten to know each other better than he’d have ever thought possible. And he wanted Barney to be part of his life. He wanted it so much.
“You won’t want me if I don’t agree?” he asked in a tiny hesitant voice, afraid of what the answer might be.
Barney’s face held shock for a moment before he quickly schooled his features. “No son- I will always want you. But I won’t be able to be in your life as actively if I know that you are taking unnecessary chances and I have no voice or ability to stop you. Because if you died from one of those unnecessary things- it would kill me inside knowing that I might have been able to prevent it if you’d given me even a small amount of say.” He reached over and held Marty’s hand. “I will always love you and will always want you. All your choice does is lets me know how much distance I need to keep so that I don’t have to witness you self-destruct….”
Deeks groused, “I’m not that bad….”
“Then you don’t have any reason not to give me authority over you…you’ll have nothing to worry about,” Barney pointed out in what he thought was a reasonable manner.
Deeks looked down and finally nodded. “Ok…” he whispered. “I…I accept your authority over me….Dad.”
“Thank you son,” Barney said simply, reaching over and squeezing Marty’s hand again.
*I say goodbye to my weakness
so long to the regrets
and now I know that I'm alive
It had been another week before Deeks had been deemed well enough to leave the hospital. He was released into his father’s care with instructions on what medicines he needed to take and when, what he should or should not be eating or drinking, and a list of exercises and activities he either needed to do or avoid. It was all a lot of paperwork that Deeks didn’t want to deal with. Luckily Barney was more than willing to take care of it for him.
Now they were in Barney’s apartment. Marty was settled on the couch and his father had taken his bags into the guestroom that had been turned into his room. Barney was making it obvious in every way possible that he wanted Marty to be a permanent part of his life. And Marty was grateful that he actually had the chance to have a father that loved, cared about him, and wanted the best for him. Still…. He bit his lip and stared at his hands, not hearing as Barney came back into the living room.
“What’s wrong kid?” Barney asked in concern, although the look in his eyes indicated he knew.
Marty swallowed hard before forcing himself to look up. “You…you haven’t punished me yet. For my actions two weeks ago…” he cleared his throat. “…you said as soon as I was well enough to be released from the hospital…so….”
“I did. I had thought to give you a bit of time to adjust to your new living arrangements…but if it will be easier for you, we can take care of your behavior now…” Barney said gently, making it clear that he was willing to give Marty time to adjust if he needed.
“I want to get it over and out of the way…” Marty forced himself to say, looking down at his hands- unable to face his father when he knew what was about to happen.
Barney smiled crookedly. “Ok. In that case…” he carefully pulled Marty up and then sat where his son had been sitting seconds before. “The pants and underwear need to drop…” his voice was firm if quiet.
Blushing darkly, Marty quickly undid his jeans and then pushed them and his boxers down. He stood in front of his father, tugging the front of his t-shirt down nervously. Barney didn’t waste any time in tugging him down over his lap and he blushed at the fact that he was over his father’s knee, bare as the day he was born.
Barney couldn’t help but notice his sons blush- it covered his entire body. “Be ashamed you did something that caused this to be necessary- not that you are being punished for it…” he admonished gently, even as he tugged Marty in tightly against his torso to make certain he couldn’t squirm or flail too much. While he meant for this to hurt- he didn’t want his son to be hurt. Finally he tugged the t-shirt up so Marty’s bottom was on full display. Rubbing his child’s back for a few moments, he finally tightened his hand around Marty’s waist, raised the other hand up high, and let it fall with a resounding crack against the pale skin of his son’s backside.
Marty couldn’t help the gasp that escaped with the first smack. Each subsequent smack was as hard as the very first one- and the sounds of his father’s hand landing on his butt carried and echoed around the room. It made the experience even more intense and there was no way he couldn’t focus on what was occurring, the sharp sting of the spanking combined with the sounds of hand connecting to skin impressed upon him how wrong he’d been. He’d known he’d been wrong of course- but there was no way he could argue that he hadn’t been now. Each smack reminded him of his guilt and brought him closer and closer to breaking.
Barney just continued spanking, not saying anything until he had made every inch of Marty’s bottom and upper thighs bright pink. On the third circuit he began to speak. “I love you Marty. Loved you from the moment I knew you were mine. It’s not something I can explain, but you might understand someday if you have kids of your own. Watching you run off to get information that you didn’t really need to get- watching you run when I knew you could be running to your death- after I’d just got you- I can’t go through that boy.” Barney didn’t try to hide his emotions. He let Marty hear the fear that he’d felt and let him hear the tears he was barely holding back. “I will not lose you to stupidity! Every time you take an unnecessary chance with your life… every time…you will be over my knee just like this and you won’t be getting off again until you are proper sorry and reluctant to take unnecessary chances again. Do I make myself clear?”
“Y….yes dad….” Marty choked out. He’d been holding himself together until his father spoke. The combination of words (showing how important he was to Barney) and the pain of the never-ending smacking, worked together and he couldn’t hold himself together any more. When Barney began a fourth round of spanking, Marty let out a tiny cry…and then he couldn’t keep any of it back. He began to sob brokenly; apologizing over and over for making his dad afraid; apologizing for doing something he hadn’t needed to do (and disobeying an order so he could do it); squirming to try and get away from the relentless smacking that was making his bottom burn. He threw his hands back in an effort to protect his backside, but Barney just calmly moved them to the small of his back, holding them in place with one of his own warm hands. It was the gentleness in his father’s grip- even as he roasted Marty’s butt- that finished him off. His father loved him and would do whatever it took to protect him- even from himself. Marty let out one last tiny wail and then went limp, accepting the punishment- not struggling or even apologizing- just accepting what was being done as he silently cried.
As soon as Marty submitted, Barney carefully tipped his son enough to land four firm smacks (two on each side) to the under-curves of his son’s bottom before ending the spanking. He then gently rubbed Marty’s back while his son cried. “I’ve got you boy, you’ll be all right. I’ve got you and I’ll never let you go now…” he repeated softly.
Eventually his gruff but loving words finally broke through to Marty and the younger man calmed, still laying over his father’s knee, but not crying; instead waiting for Barney’s permission to get up. That permission came in the form of Barney carefully lifting his son to his feet, considerately righting his sons clothing, and then gently drawing Marty into his arms. He sat the younger man on his lap slowly enough that Marty was able to adjust to the sting quickly. “I love you son….”
“I love you too dad….” Marty whispered, putting his head on Barney’s shoulder and closing his eyes.
Barney smiled as his son fell asleep in his arms, kissing the top of Marty’s head and leaning back so that he could give more support to his boy. He had a feeling it wouldn’t be the last time he had to have a discussion with his child about unnecessary risk- but maybe, if they were lucky, it would be a very long time in the future.