When they got to the border of New York, Gibbs got tired of waiting, so he asked, "Who was it?"
Jason, who had been reading on his phone, winced. "Do we have to have this conversation?"
"Yes," Gibbs insisted. "Who hurt you?"
"My Uncle Monty," Jason sighed. "He thought that Tony was...well, he thought Tony was very pretty, and effeminate as a result, and liked to pass the time trying to turn him 'into a man.' Spoiler alert, he didn't: he just made me and the others."
Gibbs winced. "Did your father know?"
"I always thought so at first, but no, he didn't," Jason said. "When Tony confronted him years later about it, Senior was horrified. Never knew anything about it. He had assumed that all those times Uncle Monty volunteered to 'babysit' us involved playing some ball in the backyard or watching movies past my bedtime, the usual fun things."
"How would he try and turn you into a man?" Gibbs asked, sincerely hoping nothing sexual came into play.
"Mostly through a beating or five," Jason said with a snarl. "I hated that man and I hope he's rotting in hell."
"And you're sure your father never knew?" Gibbs pressed.
"You can't fake throwing up from sheer disgust, Gibbs," Jason said with a twisted smile. "Trust me, he didn't know."
Gibbs nodded. That, at least, eased one knot in his chest, even if it created a few others. He would have hated to force Jason's hand and leave Tali in the hands of a man who had hurt his former SFA so horribly. The two of them got out of the car the second Gibbs parked, and Gibbs followed Jason's lead, heading to the apartment complex in front of them. When they got to a specific door on the third floor, Jason knocked and called, "Anyone home?"
There was a squeal of delight that was muffled through the door, as well as an excited voice yelling, "Abba! It's Abba, Pop-pop!"
The door opened and Senior was on the other side, with a very excited Tali. "Hey, kid," Jason said, a genuine smile on his face as he picked Tali up and kissed her forehead before setting her down again. "How was Pop-pop?"
"Good!" Tali said. "We made spaghetti!"
"Spaghetti, huh?" Jason asked. "Think there's enough left over for me and your Grandboss?"
Tali looked confused for a moment, until she looked past Jason to see Gibbs, and she squealed in delight again. "Abba, you found Grandboss!"
"He found me, more like," Jason said, crouching down. "That's why you had to stay with Pop-pop; I needed the time to talk to Grandboss and make sure everything was okay in DC."
"And everything's okay?" Tali asked.
"Yep, we might even get to go down and visit sometimes," Jason said.
Tali squealed and tackled Jason in a hug. Gibbs didn't miss how Jason tensed up and his eyes widened before he forced himself to calm down. Senior looked Gibbs over with a smile. "Gibbs," he said. "I'm surprised to see you here!"
"Yeah, well, someone needed a ride back from DC, and I didn't want to stick him with McGee round-trip," Gibbs said.
Senior gestured them all inside. "Well, come in! No use sending you away without getting to eat, first!"
Gibbs and Jason made their way inside, and Jason followed Tali to where she appeared to be coloring, while Gibbs and Senior went to the kitchen. "Gibbs, have you noticed that Junior has been acting...different?" Senior asked.
"What do you mean?" Gibbs asked, guarded.
"He went to Paris, and I was fine about that, I got to visit them often enough, but...when he came back he seemed changed. A little angrier, more tired. Do you think something happened?"
"Chief, I think this is a conversation you need to have with him, not me," Gibbs said.
"It's just...I've done some research, on things, since I learned what Junior had to deal with when he was a kid, and I'm worried. What if he has...some sort of PTSD and it's going untreated?" Senior asked.
Gibbs didn't know what to say without revealing Tony and Jason's secret, which could be way worse than leaving Senior to speculate. "Like I said, Chief, this is something you need to talk about with your son. It's not my place to tell you anything."
"But you must know something?" Senior asked desperately. "He used you as a confidante more than he ever used me."
"Yeah, I guess I know a small bit about what's going on. But it's something I don't feel comfortable telling you about. It's not my place to share." Gibbs added, "It's not hurting him, and he's not in danger, it's just not my place to say," at Senior's distressed look.
Senior nodded, and went to reheat the spaghetti. "I'll make dinner for the two of you and maybe afterwards all three of us can talk when Tali's asleep."
Gibbs nodded. "I'll go talk to Tony now, see if that's okay."
Senior grimaced. "Don't call him Tony, Gibbs. He's very particular about being called Jason."
"Good to know," Gibbs said. "Either way, I'm letting him know."
Senior waved him off, and Gibbs walked over to Jason. "I think you're going to have to tell your father about this," he said.
Jason sighed. "I know. I've been putting it off but every time I get angry he pales and looks at me like I might die at any second. I think he's halfway ready to fight for getting Tali out of my custody," the last part was whispered, as the girl was only three feet away from them, albeit absorbed in her coloring.
"He's ready to confront you after dinner, I'd think over what you need to say," Gibbs advised.
"What am I supposed to say? 'Hey, Dad, sorry I never told you but I'm actually not Tony, I'm part of a group of people in one body caused by Dissociative Identity Disorder and Tony has been literally gone for two years'?"
"That works," a strangled voice from behind Gibbs said.
There was a second of time where nothing happened, and no one moved. Then Gibbs whirled around and helped Senior into a chair, taking away the plates of spaghetti he was holding. "You okay, Chief?"
Senior looked at him and said, "No..."
Jason cleared his throat awkwardly. "I'm not good with emotions," he muttered. "Look, uh...it's nothing personal, Dad, really. I was just...worried you'd react like this, or worse."
Senior looked at Jason like he grew a second head. "So all those times when you said you weren't Tony..."
"I meant it. I never have been. My name's Jason," Jason said. "I'm the person who protected Tony from Uncle Monty. Well, one of the two people."
"I...had no idea," Senior murmured. "It really got that bad?"
"Unfortunately," Jason said with a sigh.
"I-I've done research," Senior said. "And I saw a few things on this, and I was just...relieved that Junior didn't have to deal with that, because it sounded so difficult..."
Jason shrugged. "When it's the only life you've ever known it's not so bad."
"I can't imagine," Senior said. "To go all those years, not telling anyone...how did you stand it?"
"It helped that I wasn't the main person out and about at all times," Jason said. "That was Tony's job. Then, one day in Paris, he just...stopped. And slowly, he started to disappear. When it was clear he wasn't coming back, I changed our name to my name, and got a job I would like, and established myself as the main host. It was that or Lila, who is a woman, like her name suggests. And I would not have been able to stand a sex change."
Gibbs shuddered at the thought of one day waking up to find that any sign of you being male was gone. Senior wasn't much better off. Jason, however, continued. "Tony has since, as of today, resurfaced, and we're going to have to figure out who gets how much time out, because I know he's going to want to be around again, even if he can't be out when I'm working."
"You can't just let him out during the off hours and he can't leave you alone at work?" Senior asked.
Jason opened his mouth to respond, but closed it. Frowned. "Elaborate, please."
"Well, I've seen you with Tali. And while you care for her, it's clear that there's something there that makes you uncomfortable. Junior never had that problem, and he loves taking care of her. He wouldn't last a day in your job, I was shocked when you chose that in the first place. So you get to be in control, you're the one who responds to your own name, and behind closed doors, Junior gets to be Junior again."
"Not to mention that everyone who matters at NCIS now knows, so either of you can call us at any time and we'd happily help settle any arguments that come up," Gibbs offered. "Like I said, you never have to go through this alone again."
Jason ran a hand down his face and shook his head. "You barely know me," he laughed. "Neither of you knew who I was before today."
"You're still my son," Senior said. "You may have a different name but you're still family."
"And I've trusted you and Tony both with my life more times than I can count," Gibbs said. "The name you go by doesn't matter, what matters is who you are."
Tali came over and hugged Jason. "Love you, Abba," she said firmly. "You're always my Abba."
Jason laughed, though it could also have been interpreted as a sob. "I told myself I wasn't going to cry today," he muttered, wiping at his eyes.
"Eat your spaghetti before it gets cold," Senior suggested. "We can work everything else out after dinner."
Jason nodded. "All right," he sighed. "This is going to be...a mess, but we'll work through it. It's what we've always done before, it's what we'll do again."
"And this time, you have help," Gibbs pointed out.
Jason smiled. "Yeah. This time, I'll have help."