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Chapter Three: Strengthening Bonds and Future Endeavors
Tony was lying in bed watching his guide as he slept. The cloud wall that represented Colby’s guide was higher around the Sentinel in his head than it had been the day before. The sexual part of their bonding was definitely complete. They dozed on the couch for a while the previous night before the urge for a more physical contact grew too great.
Colby had seemed surprised when Tony said that he wanted to feel him inside of him. The Sentinel had always enjoyed both ends of his sexual encounters with men. He hadn’t bottomed a lot, mostly because of trust issues, but he enjoyed it when he did. It was odd though, Tony felt less of a sexual need for Colby than he’d always imagined there would be. Not that he didn’t want to have sex with Colby, because he did. Tony had never hid the fact that he had a healthy sex drive. Somehow though suddenly it felt… less.
Which was odd, and maybe should be freaking Tony out. Only it wasn’t freaking him out, and it didn’t feel wrong and… Maybe he should just… be. Before Colby sex had always felt… not necessarily a compulsion, but… it was always as if he was… maybe searching for something. Something that he’d never found. Every time when it was done he felt… empty… disappointed… incomplete.
With Colby ,though, there hadn’t been that urge to perform. There had been none of the previous need to impress like a peacock showing off its feathers to the female. He hated being the entertainment. With Colby he didn’t have to be. He didn’t have to impress Colby, because the man was his, and he was Colby’s, and they were each other’s. Colby was his in a way that no one else could compete with. Tony was Colby’s in a way that was impossible to break. He didn’t have to have the most amazing sex of his entire life every fucking time because… well, because he didn’t have anything to prove anymore. And, wasn’t that life altering.
Instead there were other things that he wanted to do. He wanted to run his hands through Colby’s hair, and memorize how soft it was. So, reaching out he did just that. When he was satisfied, he wanted to lock his guide’s scent into his very own soul, so that no one could ever steal it from him. Rolling forward he lay his face in the crook of Colby’s neck, and inhaled. He inhaled as deep as he could. Deeper than he ever had in his life. Deep enough that a part of his heart that held the space for his new guide was filled with the most fragrant cologne he ever smelled in his life. The very essence that was his guide’s scent.
When he was done with that he wanted to touch more. He wanted to touch him all over everywhere. He wanted to touch every little inch. So, he pulled back the covers and did just that. He ran hands over his guide’s face ignoring beautiful hazel eyes that were now watching him. He ran hands over muscular pecs, and flat rippled abs. He trailed his hands down his thighs and around is calves. Every so often he’d stop to smell. To commit the scent of that particular area to mind.
He didn’t understand that he was worshiping this man, this guide, this forever in a way he never did when he was having sex. This… this man, this body, this soul was Tony’s religion. This was the alter that he worshipped at, and the God he would pray to like he never had to the other that he never believed in. This person, this human being, this light in the dark made it all worth it. It healed all the wounds and soothed all the seconds, minutes, hours, lifetimes of loneliness. This was worth 23 years.
Slowly, he worked his way back up again smelling, touching, and maybe a little taste here and there. Committing marks and scars, and any irregularity he found to memory. Every beautiful thing that made his guide who he was. When he got back to the top, back to those hazel eyes, he was breathless. He had a million things that he wanted to say, and not a single word for any of them. He had no urge to have sex, to fuck, even to make love. He knew what he could do with his dick. Colby knew what he could do with his dick. This… this worship, this sermon, this pilgrimage was more than that.
“I have waited a lifetime for you,” he breathed taking in the widening searching eyes, the increased breath, awe that poured over the bond. “I waited a lifetime, and every second was worth it to have you in the end. I can only hope and pray that someday you feel half as lucky as I do. I swear on my soul. and my life, and my honor that I will always put you first. That you will always be before all others. That I will worship you above everything else in the universe. From this day forward you will always be my guide, and I will be your Sentinel. Together we will be untouchable, because no one will ever know a love like ours. You have my word, you have my honor, and you have my vow.”
Colby lay in bed almost unable to speak. He had his fair share of sex partners, and what had just happened to him was so far beyond anything that had ever happened during intercourse. “Jesus, I can’t believe that you’re mine,” Colby whispered awed.
“I feel like… I think if we never had sex again I would still be complete. I waited so long for you. My mom would take me to church, and I would pray and beg for God to send me my Sentinel. I gave up believing after my dad died, because I didn’t understand how if this… being was so all powerful, and benevolent that he could take my father from me.”
Colby swallowed heavily, and lifted a hand to touch his Sentinel’s face. “Now I understand. I don’t need someone else’s higher being, because I have you. You don’t need a God, because you have me. You are my life and my universe just as I am yours. You are the one whose threads are making me whole, and I am the one protecting you from the crap the world throws at you. I don’t think that losing my dad will ever stop hurting, but finding you makes it bearable. Finding you makes me a complete person again. For that I will never leave your side.”
“Is it crazy that I already love you?” Tony asked softly lowering his head to rest it against Colby’s shoulder. He didn’t think that he would ever get enough of that scent.
“I hope not,” Colby replied softly as he lifted a hand to run his fingers through Tony’s hair. “If it is then we’re both insane, ‘cause I am pretty sure I am already in love with you. If I’m not then I’ll never know what love is, because there is no way anything can feel better than this.”
Stretching back out. Tony wrapped an arm around Colby’s waist, and entwined their legs together leaving his head on the younger man’s shoulder. Soon they were both sleeping again. Their guide and Sentinel finishing the bonds making them one.
Tony woke up, and smiled at his sleeping guide. The bond felt almost finished. It was certainly more complete than it had been when he woke earlier. Moving his senses outward from their little haven, Tony immediately felt Jim and Blair. When he got a ping of impatience and curiosity through his bond with Jim, Tony grinned. He knew that they would be getting visitors, and probably sooner rather than later.
Visitors meant food. Food meant that Tony had to get his ass out of bed. A breakfast casserole will not make itself, and put itself in the oven. Kissing his lover’s shoulder, he finally got up, and after grabbing some clothes for the day headed to the bathroom. As he washed his hair, he thought about their conversations the day before. He realized that somehow the conversation had all been directed toward him and his past. Sneaky, sneaky guide. Humming to himself Tony couldn’t help but smile, thinking about what a difference a few days made.
It wasn’t that long ago that Tony had felt like he was nearly alone in the world. The only person he could really count on no matter what lived thousands of miles away. Now ,though, now he had a guide. He had someone practically made just for him, and whom he was made for in return. He had forever. He was more grateful to Jim for not giving up the search, even though Tony had. He would never be able to repay his friend and brother for everything that he owed him.
After rinsing off, Tony stepped out of the shower and dried off before unwrapping the plastic he’d put around the stitches. They looked to be healing, and he didn’t see any sign of infection. It would be hard to put a new bandage on himself. So, instead of fighting with it, he just took the stuff he needed out to the kitchen with him along with the sling he would put on once it was covered. Hopefully, Colby would be willing to put them on for him later.
Tony was just taking the breakfast casserole, and biscuits out of the oven when he heard the sounds of his guide waking up. He felt the impatience through Jim’s bond growing, and knew that they wouldn’t have much longer before they were invaded. Hopefully Blair would withhold the interrogation for another time. He wouldn’t restrain the growly if the guide got nosey at the moment. Old friend or not. Prime Guide or not.
Tony smiled to himself as he listened to Colby’s breathing quicken, and listened to the sound of him moving around on the sheets. When he felt like the other man was sufficiently awake he called out, “Breakfast is ready when you are!”
Hearing the grumbling, he laughed. He knew he was smiling like a loon, but wasn’t going to try and hold it in. “You can take a shower. There isn’t anything that won’t keep, and the bacon is just going into the oven. Your coffee is being poured now.”
He was just putting the creamer and sugar on the counter when he felt a peck on his cheek. “You’re awesome,” Colby grunted before fixing his mug with a ton of creamer and a little sugar. Tony made sure to take note, and when Colby finally was done and ready for the day, his Guide had a new cup sitting in front of his plate.
“Wow, you a closet romantic, DiNozzo?” Colby asked sitting in his chair, and immediately taking a bite of the yummy looking casserole. “Dude, this thing is fucking amazing even if it does have green shit in it.”
Tony couldn’t stop his laugh, and nearly choked on the biscuit he’d just bitten into. “Colby, I am Italian. Pride in my heritage is one of the few things Senior and I agree on. I make homemade pasta. I speak the language. I am passionate, and very open about my romanticism. Don’t tell me you’re one of those ‘I consider french fries vegetables’ people,” Tony teased, and laughed harder when his new guide blushed.
“OK, so I won’t tell you.” Colby offered grinning as he took a bite of his bacon.
“Why Guide Granger, how very un-guide-like of you. Blair will be horrified.” Tony watched Colby’s blush brighten, and was delighted.
“OK, so let’s not tell him. Nothing like pissing off the new brother-in-law on the first day.” Colby wrinkled his nose as he bit into the asparagus in the casserole. It did taste good though. He hoped that this bonding thing wasn’t going to turn him into a damned rabbit.
Tony snorted. “There won’t be any telling needed. Blair has some fucked up sixth sense about that shit. Don’t worry though, I will protect your virtue from the resident Shaman. Only Jim is really honor bound to listen to Blair’s dietary demands anyway, and if we promise to share our junk food with him. he won’t rat us out. So, I noticed yesterday was mostly about me. Tell me about Colby Granger. I want to know everything about you.”
Colby huffed, and spent a few moments eating. He’d known this was coming. He didn’t know why he was so nervous about this. Except he hated talking about what happened to his dad, and he’d have to explain his undercover assignment. “Not much to tell. I grew up in Idaho. Wrestled in High School. Wasn’t Mr. Popular, but I wasn’t anti-social either. I liked science and math more than I will ever admit to Charlie Epps. My dad died when I was 15 in what they called an accident. We were pretty close, and it gutted me.”
Tony could feel the sadness over the bond, and reminded himself to tell his lover about his mother dying. For now he just sat quietly, and listened to the younger man speak. “I didn’t really have any life ambition when I graduated, so I enlisted in the army. Eventually I ended up in Army Intelligence where I stayed until I needed something new. Plus there was this… AD Helmsley needed someone and…” Colby stopped talking and sighed . “Just a sec.”
Tony frowned watching the man hurry out of the room. He heard his guide making a call, and turned down his hearing momentarily not wanting to eavesdrop on the conversation. He wasn’t going to start off a relationship with anything that might give his new guide reason to believe he didn’t trust him. When he came back Tony dialed it up again, as Colby sat down.
“I suppose you heard all of that,” Colby asked. The bond filled with an odd mix of emotions. Tony filed it away to process later when he wasn’t worried what someone had gotten his guide into.
“No, I dialed down my hearing to give you some privacy. I trust you to give me all the information you can, and I guessed that it was a confidential conversation with whomever got you into whatever undercover job you’re doing.”
“Wow,” Colby murmured. The surprise evident in both his facial expression and tone. “I don’t know what to say. I… thanks. I umm… I had to call AD Helmsley. I…” Colby took a deep breath, but it wasn’t until Tony reached across the table to take his hand that he calmed down.
“So, I got the job at the FBI because my CO used to work with the AD in Army Intelligence. After I went through FLETC, I got assigned to the LA office. The day before I started, he shows up at the apartment I was moving into, and tells me that he needs my help. He says that the FBI wanted to start a Sentinel and Guide unit, and they needed an unbiased opinion on if Don would be a suitable lead for the position.”
Tony frowned feeling the guilt coming through the bond. “They said I wasn’t there to spy on the team, but they needed an opinion from someone who had worked with the Army Intelligence’s team to know if Don was suitable. I wasn’t…”
“Colby you did nothing wrong.” Tony said softly, and moved chairs to sit next to his guide. Taking one of Colby’s hands between both of his own, Tony cradled it before kissing the knuckles. “It’s no different than any other undercover job we did, except in this case you weren’t there to dig up dirt. You were only there to judge someone’s competency for an important position. That’s an honor, and the only ones who will ever know will be us, and the AD Sentinel and Guide.”
Colby sighed, and Tony smiled softly still feeling worry and guilt through the bond. He could hear Jim and Blair making their way toward the guest house, and decided maybe his brother could help. He felt a questioning ping over his bond with Jim, and sent a welcoming one back.
“Blair and Jim are on their way here. Why don’t we run the situation past them? If you’re worried they might still pick Don, I am sure Jim would be happy to make a call and ensure that doesn’t happen.”
The words were no sooner out of his mouth than a knock came on the door to the guest house. The door opening almost immediately. Tony rolled his eyes when a voice was heard asking, “Who am I calling, and what am I ensuring?”
Tony shook his head, and smiled at his guide who lifted an eyebrow. Tony just shrugged a shoulder. “We’re lucky that Blair didn’t drag him down here the second I arrived last night. He’s a nosy little thing. I hope you’re not that nosy.”
“There better be food left. Chief, settle down. He’s right. You are nosy.”
Tony smiled and looked at his guide. “Do you mind if they come in?”
Colby shook his head, trying to settle the nerves that had just increased. Nothing like meeting the in-laws right off the bat. “Come in! Food’s on the stove. I ain’t your maid, so you have to serve yourself.”
Tony smiled at Colby as they walked past. “If you don’t already know, the short, curly haired one is Blair. The tall, ugly fucker is Jim.”
“He’s feeding you, Jim. Hey! There’s asparagus in this! Good job, T!”
Tony grinned at Colby who just signed, and took another bite of his casserole. When the two men got settled at the table, Tony finished the introductions. “Jim and Blair, this is Colby Granger my guide.”
“Man, it’s good to finally meet you!” Blair said bouncing happily in his seat. “It’s awesome those tests really work! Just imagine how many of our active Sentinels and guides that we’ll be able to help now, Jim.”
“I’m just glad we finally got Tony bonded,” Jim admitted biting into his casserole. “Colby it’s nice to finally meet you. We’ve been waiting a long time to find out who you are. Welcome to the family.”
“Thank you very much, sir,” Colby offered, and Tony wished he could calm his guide’s nerves. Reaching under the table he placed a hand on his partner’s leg squeezing lightly.
“Oh God, please no sir,” Jim protested before shoving some of the casserole in his mouth. Blair just grinned, and spoke around the moaning coming from his Sentinel.
“He hates sir. Besides you’re practically family. Jim and Blair is just fine. I hope we didn’t rush you too soon. I know your bond is still new.”
Tony shrugged almost shyly. “Actually it’s pretty complete.”
Jim just nodded, but sensed his partner was curious. Before the man could start on one of his question sessions that seemed as if they’d never end, Jim shifted the conversation. “So, what were you talking about when I came in?”
Colby cleared his throat, hoping they couldn’t hear his nerves. “I was telling Tony about this… assignment I was on. Tony said that maybe you could call AD Helmsley, and make sure they aren’t putting Don on the S&G team they’re building.”
“Aah.” Jim turned his attention to his plate trying to decide if there was any chance he could get out of this without getting killed.
“I know that ‘aah’, Ellison,” Tony said nearly growling with displeasure. “What the hell did you do?”
“Look, in my defense, I had no idea that Colby was going to end up your guide, AJ.”
“Explain, Ellison. NOW!” Tony narrowed his eyes at his old friend not relaxing until he felt his guide’s touch on his arm.
“Maybe we should hear what he has to say before we take the Prime Sentinel’s head off, huh?” Colby suggested. Tony just nodded grabbing the man’s hand in his laying them on the table. When he just lifted eyebrow, Blair poked Jim in the arm.
“I am thinking that you need to get to explaining, Big Guy.”
Jim huffed, and glared at his own guide. “Thanks, Chief. Look, AJ, there’s more going on than just creating the program to match up Sentinel and guide pairs. It’s come to our attention, mainly through all of your bitching and whining and dramatics over the years, that there is a serious problem with the way Sentinels and guides are treated by law enforcement agencies. We are also aware that there is a problem with how Sentinels and guides are treated when they are either a victim or a suspect of a crime. We want to change that.”
Blair nodded so hard his curls bounced as he took over the explanation. “Don’t forget that this whole Sentinel and guide thing is pretty new. It’s taken us this long to just get organized, get recognized, and get funded. We needed to do something that would affect not just the US, but all of our Sentinel and guide brothers and sisters around the world. Whatever happened when Jim and I met effected the whole planet. So, while it seems slow moving there is a reason. It isn’t easy getting one government to agree on something, let alone all of them. Or, at least the big ones.”
“We’ve made some good headway with this president.” Jim pointed out. “He’s fair and he’s open minded. Of course, our cause is helped by the fact that not only his brother, but also his twin son and daughter are all part of the S&G family. The first thing we needed to do was the matching. People shouldn’t have to suffer like you did for over twenty goddamned years, AJ. Once we can prove that this system works, other countries have already said they’d take part in it.
“The next thing we need to do is the crime part. That’s where you and Colby come in, and where his undercover assignment comes in” Tony frowned at Jim, but turned his attention to his guide for a moment. After several long moments of staring at the gorgeous man, he determined that he could neither see nor feel any upset that this job may not have been exactly as it seemed.
“Explain the undercover part first,” Tony ordered turning his gaze back to his brother, who nodded his understanding.
“Look, I don’t blame you for being pissed. If someone used Blair in a way that was not completely as presented, I would probably rip their head off, and we’ve been bonded for 23 years. The story AD Helmsley gave Colby was mostly true, it’s just that it won’t be an FBI department. It will be a new agency affiliated with the S&G Center, but run completely independently.” Jim paused to drain his coffee before continuing.
“It will do all the things that you’ve said were an issue. The initial hires will be all Sentinels and guides or those mundanes that have shown a strong understanding of Sentinels and guide relationships. We will handle, or at least be involved in, all crimes that deal with either a Sentinel or guide victim, or where the suspect is a registered Sentinel or guide. We will be able to cover all parts of the investigation. We’ll have field agents and technical analysts. We’ll have our own forensic and lab people. We’ll have undercover operatives, profilers… hell, if you can name it, then we’ll have it. We’ll also offer training to both federal and local law enforcement agencies on how to handle their S&G co-workers as well as victims and suspected criminals.
“Don Epps was honestly being considered for a position as a team leader. I used the word was because when AD Helmsley called me and advised me of both your concerns and his own. Because of that I have taken his name off the list. AJ, it goes without saying that I want you to be a part of this. Right now we’re using the FBI’s command structure as a starting point. The Director that the president chose already knows I want you on the team, and it was actually his recommendation that you be brought in as a Unit Chief.”
Tony lifted an eyebrow. “Who…”
Blair giggled cutting him off. “He says, though, that he has the right to mangle your name anytime he wants, and you’ll probably be called DiNutso for the rest of your career.”
“Holy shit! Tobias Fornell is the new Director?”
Jim nodded, and when Tony lay his head on the table laughing, couldn’t hold in a smile. “I take it you approve?” He asked smiling feeling his brother’s happiness through their bond.
Tony nodded, and once he calmed down sat back up. “Yeah, I approve. What about Colby though? I don’t want to be separated from him, and what about field work? I ain’t sitting in a damned office for the rest of my life.”
“Lead positions will be dual spots when a bonded pair is involved. Your title will be Unit Chief Sentinel DiNozzo, and he will be Unit Chief Guide Granger. You will be equal in pay and authority. As for field work, you will be expected to go into the field. Tobias made it clear that you were too valuable to sit on the bench. He said that your department will run similar to Unit Chief Hotchner’s does at the BAU. He runs his own team, but also has others that report to him. So, tell me, AJ, does this interest you at all? If you tell me you wanna go back to NCIS I may kill you.”
Tony just looked at Colby and smiled at what he felt through the bond. It looked like they didn’t even have to think about it. After all, there was really only one possible answer.