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Chapter One: Hollywood DiNozzo Finds His Guide
Tony walked off of the elevator in the FBI building in Los Angeles that Colby worked in, and immediately felt an effect on his senses. While he was considered active, he didn’t have access to the full measure of what his abilities would bring once he was bonded. They had discovered quickly after The Sentinel & Guide Activation that unbonded Sentinels did immediately experience an enhancement over what a mundane human had. However, the full range of their abilities did not come until they were bonded to their guide.
Blair felt that this was especially important for high level Sentinels, like he expected Tony would be. The guide felt that it would put a strain on their mind if they weren’t bonded to someone who could help them regulate themselves. When Tony felt Lon’s fur under his fingers, he realized that he had stopped just outside of the elevators. Murmuring his apologies, he stepped aside and let others pass, as he tried to fight the bubble that he could feel forming around him.
“Can I help you? Are you alright, Sentinel?” He heard a woman ask, and shaking his head looked up to see a tall dark haired woman looking at him with a worried frown on her face.
“I’m… I’m looking for Colby Granger,” Tony muttered wishing he could rub his forehead, but his one good hand was buried in Lon’s fur trying to find his balance again. Even when he’d come online he hadn’t had many issues with his senses. Lon was already there after Tony woke up from his activation, and had always helped to keep Tony on an even keel since then. Now ,though it felt like he was wrapped in some kind of pressure bubble that was slowly getting smaller.
He could hear the woman talking to him, but couldn’t differentiate her words from the others that were growing louder and louder, the smells that were becoming unbearable, and the brightness of the lights above them. He had just fallen to his knees when a single voice came through the chaos.
“Sentinel, I need you to focus on my voice. Come on, Agent DiNozzo. You can do this.” Opening his eyes, not realizing he closed them, Tony turned his head to see a man whom he guessed would be slightly shorter than he was with brown hair, and hazel eyes kneeling in front of him. “Come on, Tony. No, do not focus on my eyes. I need you to listen to my voice. We gotta get your dials turned down, buddy.”
“Buttons,” Tony murmured trying to focus on the instructions. “Movie buff. Not dials. Buttons. Like…”
“Like on a TV remote? Cool that will help. Thank you for that. I’m going to take your hand, alright? I am hoping that the touch will begin to ground you to me. I need you to let go of the panther. What’s his or her name by the way?” Colby requested hoping to finally get his Sentinel back under control.
“His name is Lon. Like… Like Lon Chaney. I was going through a classic horror movie phase when I activated. I… You can take my hand.”
Colby waited ‘til the big cat shifted its gaze from him to his own spirit guide Payton. “That’s cool. Mine is a Mountain Lion. His name is Payton. I named him after the greatest running back ever.” Reaching out, Colby took Tony’s hand in his own. “OK, Tony. I need you to tell me where those buttons are at. If anything is over say a four I want you to turn them down.”
Tony nodded, even though he already felt better. The second Colby had taken his hand whatever bubble he’d been trapped in had popped. Making him feel instantly somewhat better. Once things were finally back to normal though, Tony shook his head before looking at his new guide as he stood. “Hi,” he offered, flashing one of his bright DiNozzo smiles unable to hold in his happiness.
“Hi back,” Colby replied smiling as well following Tony as he stood up. He was feeling pretty happy, and more energized than he should considering he had just been commenting he felt like he’d been hit by a bus.
“I am guessing that you’re Colby?” Tony asked glancing around to finally take in the people watching. When he looked back at his guide he noticed how tired the man looked. “You look beat. Hard case? I heard you guys were working something. Did you catch him, or do you need to get back to it?”
“We’re finished, but he has reports that he needs to finish before he can leave.” Locating the voice in the crowd, Tony frowned taking in the obvious hostility in the man’s voice and stance. There was also a faint smell of jealousy, and his guide’s scent coming from the man. As if he’d been in regular physical contact with him. More regular than he should be, even with them being on the same team.
“Don,” the woman he remembered trying to help him earlier protested. “He just found his Sentinel. The bad guys are in jail. I think the reports can wait a day or two. All things considered the brass is gonna understand.”
“Well I won’t, Agent Reeves,” the dark haired man shot back. “You trying to tell me how to run my team?” Tony felt his back straightening, and involuntarily took a step around Colby to put himself slightly between the man and his guide. Jesus, did every agency have a Gibbs?
“Don, come on man,” Colby tried to plead, not trying to move around his new Sentinel, though. Normally he wouldn’t allow himself to be treated as if he was some fragile creature, but this was new, and they weren’t even fully bonded yet. This was not the time to get picky about minor details. “I need to get him out of here. There’s too many people.”
“Then I guess you better get that report done, Agent Granger!” The man snapped only to step back when he found himself face to face with an irate Sentinel.
“You know,” Tony began shaking his head at Colby when the guide tried to calm things down. He needed the man to let him deal with this. He wouldn’t always insist on stepping in and solving his guide’s conflicts for him, but he just simply couldn’t let this pass this time. The betrayal of his team, and his pain over Gibbs’ carelessness as to Tony’s feelings was too fresh.
“I know guys like you, Agent Epps. That’s who you are, right? Agent in Charge ,Don Epps, who has his little brother solve his cases for him? You’re a cowboy right? One of those ruthless, and reckless bastards who expects his people to behave one way then acts completely different himself. Hell, I worked under someone just like you for nearly five years at NCIS. Lemme tell you, you’re good, but you’re nowhere near Leroy Jethro Gibbs level of bastard.”
Tony deliberately stepped even closer, his chest touching Don’s slightly. The air around them was thick with tension and anger, but this was no time to back down. His guide would always be someone worth fighting over.
“What’s wrong, Sentinel? Jealous? Yeah, you’re jealous alright. I can smell its stench on you. You liked having a strong unbonded guide on your team. You liked having Colby on your team, because he let you take advantage of his abilities. He let you ground yourself on him, even though you aren’t his Sentinel, even though you have an assigned guide for that very purpose. I do believe his name is David Sinclair.”
“You keep his name out of your fucking mouth!” Don spat angrily. He could feel David behind him, but the man was basically worthless. The FBI had very little understanding how Sentinels and guides worked. They insisted that any guide should be able to help any Sentinel. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Therefore Don had preferred using the stronger guide in Colby, who was technically too strong for him, over the weaker guide in David like he was supposed to be letting help him.
The center had been trying to get him to bond with his Perfect Match for years, but Don stubbornly refused to do so. He refused to even hear anything about this person. He told them that he felt that it was a risk that he would be putting their life in danger by bonding with him but… the truth was he just didn’t want to be tied down like that. He liked the freedom to be able to pick and choose guides at will until he grew tired of them. Then he’d move onto a new one and start all over again.
“You’re a little defensive there about your assigned guide, Agent Epps. I only pointed out the facts. Let me point out another fact that has you practically foaming at the mouth with jealousy over. I am a five sense Sentinel. You are a three sense Sentinel, with one of those senses being fairly unhelpful, unless you’re gonna go around and lick things at crime scenes. See, though, here’s the problem, your three sense status isn’t my problem. Also, Colby Granger isn’t yours.”
When Don growled, Tony just laughed. “You don’t scare me Sentinel Epps. You’re unbonded. You’re a weaker Sentinel than I am, and you’re nowhere near as intimidating as my last boss. Colby is a person. Not a thing for you to play with when you need a rush. ‘Cause that’s what you got off him, right? A little buzz? A little… feel good because he’s a stronger guide than you are a Sentinel? Frankly, you don’t deserve either Colby OR David.
“It isn’t Guide Sinclair’s fault that he’s better suited for a one or two sense Sentinel. It sucks that the FBI, and other federal agencies can’t pull their heads outta their asses and treat us like people. Instead they choose to act like we’re weapons they don’t want to understand how to use. They just wanna point us at things, and pull the trigger.
“Frankly, though, it’s assholes like you that are part of the reason why that’s so. You could be a damned fucking good Sentinel and leader of a team if you got over your own ego, and remembered basic things like how to treat people with respect. Unfortunately, you never will. Your kind never does, Sentinel Epps. Now get the fuck out of my face. I am taking MY GUIDE out of here. Your reports will just have to wait.”
Tony could tell that Don was winding himself up to take a swing. Honestly he hoped that he did. He had done some research while he was making his way from DC to LA, and was less than impressed by Colby’s boss. Tony could see the second that Don convinced himself that he could take Tony, and was bracing himself for the punch, when he heard a voice.
“I think that will be perfectly fine, Sentinel DiNozzo.”
Don turned his head to growl at the person who had dared to interrupt them, only to find himself face to face with Assistant Director Helmsley who was in charge of the west coast FBI operations.
When Tony took a step back, and smiled at the man, Don wanted to follow. It was only David’s hand on his arm, and the urgent whispers in his ear, that kept him in place. “AD Helmsley, I apologize for the scene. It’s… the bonding I think.”
Hunter snorted, and just nodded. Being a bonded Sentinel himself he was aware of not only the chaos the process made of your emotions, but also the bullshit that Tony was giving him. He couldn’t help but smirk at the man, and could feel the humor his guide Dave Batista was passing through the bond. Personally he agreed with Sentinel DiNozzo’s stance on the FBI’s treatment of Sentinels and Guides. He hadn’t gotten to where he was by voicing those feelings though, and chose to just ignore them.
“I am sure it is,” Hunter offered smoothly. “Sentinel Epps, I see no reason why Colby can’t submit his reports after the bond has settled some. I understand you aren’t aware of what a strain the bond puts on your emotions until it’s settled, but for the good of the building, I will have to override your order.”
“Sir,” Don growled, and Hunter just arched his eyebrow. He agreed with more than just Tony’s view on the treatment of Sentinel and guides. Making a quick decision he thought that it might be time to have a talk with the Agent in Charge. While he liked the results his team got, he disliked how he ran though the female guide population like they were disposable, and Sentinel DiNozzo’s accusations of him misusing both Colby and David’s abilities was troubling.
“Sentinel Epps!” Hunter growled well aware who the bigger cock in this fight was. He outranked Don both in the FBI hierarchy, as well as in Sentinel ranking. There was no way he was going to allow his subordinate, and a weaker Sentinel to start a pissing match with him in front of the whole floor. “I think that you and I need to have a talk in my office. Guide Sinclair you are in charge of wrapping things up on your case. Guide Granger will be leaving for the day.”
Nodding one last time to Sentinel DiNozzo, Hunter glared at his rebellious Agent in Charge. “Come along little doggie.” Turning, Hunter marched toward the elevator not waiting for his guide, and the unbonded Sentinel to follow, but knowing they were there nonetheless. If Colby Granger was still employed with the FBI at the end of the week, he would stop going to the gym. He was fairly confident though that his favorite pastime was safe.
The AD’s departure seemed to be an unspoken signal, and most everyone cleared out. When the dust settled Tony found himself left still holding Colby’s hand, with Agent David Sinclair, and the woman he now recognized as being Agent Megan Reeves, in front of them. “Colby, are you sure about this?” David asked, and Tony couldn’t help but narrow his eyes. Surely someone else wasn’t trying to take his freaking guide away from him.
Feeling a touch on his back, Tony kept quiet this time. After all this was a guide and guide confrontation, and therefore no reason for him to get worked up. “David, come on, man.” Colby complained stepping around his Sentinel.
“It’s my Sentinel, man. Do you really expect me to turn this down? You know how much I want this.” Colby pointed out, annoyed that he had to be dealing with this. All he wanted was for his Sentinel to bury himself so far inside Colby that they’d never be separated again.
“How do you know this is really him though? Just because the Center said they ran some test that’s never been done before? For all you know, you’re just being played. I mean why would they use you as one of their first test subjects, and not someone like Don?” David’s scoffing snidely at this whole thing might just be the knife that severed the last thread keeping him with the FBI. His secret undercover assignment was just gonna have to work itself out.
“I’m done,” Colby said softly running his free hand through his hair. “You’ve treated me like crap since I got assigned to this team. You act like I have absolutely no investigative background, despite the fact that you KNOW I worked with Army Intelligence when I was in the service. Don acts like a freakin cowboy. It’s as if he thinks that bullets won’t kill him. Megan, I’m sorry about this. You, I really like. Please tell Charlie and Larry that I will miss them, but… Jesus I am so out of here.”
Turning he looked at his Sentinel, not missing the understanding in his eyes. “Can we just… can we please just get out of here? I can’t… I can’t breathe in this place anymore.”
“I’ll pack up your things for you,” Megan promised softly. She really liked the young agent, and wondered if maybe it was time for her to move on as well. There were other opportunities for her out there after all. “I don’t want them to get lost. Just let me know when you’re gonna come in and do your reports, and I will make sure it’s all here waiting for you.”
Colby nodded his thanks, and looked at his Sentinel once more silently begging to be taken away from this mess. Quietly, Tony nodded, and turning, pulled his guide toward the elevator. It looked like they’d both need new homes after today. That was a worry for tomorrow though, today… today he was going to bond with HIS guide.