Title: Swingin’ on the Vegas Strip
Ratings: R to be safe
Pairings: Nick Stokes/Tony DiNozzo/Greg Sanders, Established Nick/Greg, Catherine Willows/Warrick Brown
Characters: Tony DiNozzo, Greg Sanders, Nick Stokes, Catherine Willows, Warrick Brown, Others to be added later.
Warnings: CHARACTER DEATH, Angst, Bashing of NCIS characters, Mental Illness & Made Up Mental Illness, Warnings may change or be added to.
Chapter Note: Catherine didn’t come out as I expected when I planned this. I have a love/hate thing with her, but I didn’t plan on her coming out like this.
Chapter Word Count: 3555
Summary: In a world where Sentinels and Guides are commonplace, Tony’s always been labeled “Undetermined”. When he’s brought back from his Agent Afloat position, a friendly question makes him wonder what he’s doing. In the end, he accepts the Vegas Crime Lab night shift lead position. He’s shocked when the sight of the returning S&G pair sends his world into an explosion of sensations and feelings.
Note: This story is a WIP and not completed at this time. Please see the WIPs Master Listing for more information on the stories in this category. Character Death only occurs in the prologue and it is not Tony.
Prologue: Death and Leaving
Aaron Hotchner and Spencer Reid stepped out of the FBI building in Quantico, VA. Spencer was smiling up at one of his two sentinels. They were always both Sentinels in his mind. He never thought of Aaron with his true title. They’d all three agreed the day they’d bonded that the secret of what Aaron really was would be a secret. Gibbs had been immediately worried about what people would do with the information, and Aaron had agreed. Because of it, they’d lived their lives without the close contact most bonded pairs enjoyed.
Oh, Aaron and Spencer got to see as much of each other as they’d like. Gibbs however still kept his own residence, and only told very few about his bonding. The oldest of the three of them claimed that there was someone close to him that he could use as a Guide when needed. He’d refused to explain further, though, and Aaron suggested they let it go. Because he trusted his boss and mate, he’d let it go for the moment. Spencer hoped daily that things would change and his family could finally be whole, though.
Unfortunately, that would never come to be for the three of them. Spencer was looking at Hotch, laughing at a story the older man was telling from the budget meeting he’d attended that day. There was nothing that felt out of the ordinary for him, but abruptly, Aaron stopped and started to move Spencer behind him. Before the genius could even take a step, though, there was a shot. One second Aaron was alive and happy, and the next minute his blood was all over him.
He had no idea he was screaming, crying, begging for his boss and mate. He couldn’t feel the warmth of hid hands as they covered the wound. He could hear people around him shouting. He could feel someone trying to separate him from Aaron, but he wasn’t giving him up. Bodies were surrounding him. Emotions were battering at his now fragile shields. All he could do was scream and cry and beg. All he wanted was to go back, five minutes and find a new ending. Unfortunately, his pain wasn’t even close to being over.
172 miles away at the Navy Yard in DC, Tony DiNozzo was chasing his boss across the parking lot. They were arguing over what had happened on Tony’s protection detail assignment for Director Shepard. Gibbs kept insisting that he wasn’t mad at Tony, and he didn’t blame him for her death. Tony though didn’t believe him. Granted Gibbs’ was extremely hard to read ever since he returned from his amnesia. Tony knew the older man had come online during the blast that temporarily cost him his memory.
When his boss had returned to work, though, it was as if someone had taken possession of his body. Gibbs’ already intense hard driving need for justice seemed to only be amplified. Prior to the accident, he’d been a hard-driving boss who had been hard to please, but willing to dish out praise when earned. He was the kind of boss that Tony loved to work for and had been willing to lay down his life for without question. Afterward, though it seemed as if Tony couldn’t do anything right.
Everything he did was wrong.
Supposedly the man had bonded while he was gone, but Tony had never seen either of his mates. He knew their names. He knew what they looked like because he’d done a little investigative work and researched Unit Chief Aaron Hotchner and SSA Dr. Spencer Reid. He’d never met them, though, and he knew for a fact that Gibbs still lived alone. He also knew that the older man spent most nights alone in his house. Tony was not only baffled but scared for his friend.
Despite the almost abusive conditions he sometimes worked under, he did count Gibbs as a friend. He had enough faith in the man to know these changes wouldn’t happen without cause. Something had happened. Something seriously dangerous had happened. This Gibbs was a man protecting his family. Tony just wished he knew how he knew that and what he was protecting him from.
Tony was just about to launch into another avenue to try and get Gibbs to open up to him when his boss stopped in his track. Confused, Tony stopped and turned just in time to see all of the color leave the older man’s face. When his knees buckled, Tony took a step toward him in case he fell. He heard the older man shout, “Aaron! Spencer!” and then saw his head turn to look off somewhere outside the yard. “Tony!”
His name would be the last thing Gibbs would speak. For the second time in his career, Tony had a coworker’s blood splattered over his face.
Seven months later, Tony was sitting down in the basement of his former boss’ home studying a wood plane that Gibbs had left on the bench. He’d been back on dry land for only a few hours and had come straight there as soon as he got off the ship. Director Vance had sent Tony away the second he’d laid eyes on him after Gibbs’ murder. He said that he knew Tony wouldn’t stay out of the investigation, and he was absolutely not allowed to be involved.
Somehow the team, or former team as it were, had taken the assignment as if Tony had requested it. For eight weeks straight, he’d gotten daily scathing emails from Abby and Ziva screaming about how he’d let Gibbs down by following orders. He’d received not so passively aggressive ones from McGee who was pissed off that he had not only not been immediately made Team Leader of MCRT, but he wasn’t even made Senior Field Agent status. Instead, Vance had sent him back to Cyber Division and didn’t seem inclined to move him back anytime soon.
After eight weeks of constant abuse from his former team, Tony had forwarded every one of the correspondences to the Director, HR, and Internal Affairs then immediately blocked the email addresses of the terrible trio. He had a meeting early in the morning with Vance, but Tony was less than enthused about it. The only thing that he really wanted to do at that moment, was sit in the basement and mope. It felt like no one in his world cared about what Tony had suffered through. Didn’t it occur to any of them that just maybe Tony was having trouble dealing with a second teammate’s blood sprayed over his face? Apparently not.
“I should have known that you were here. What the hell are you doing here, DiNozzo?”
Tony’s head snapped up to see Tobias Fornell standing at the bottom of the stairs. “Where else would I go? This is the only home I have.”
Tony had been surprised to hear that Gibbs had left him the house. He’d expected that it would be given to his mates. While Aaron Hotchner had been shot and killed, or so they said, on the same day, Dr. Spencer Reid was still alive from what Tony could find out. The DiNozzo Network ran slower when Tony was surrounded by miles of water, but the best he’d been able to gather was “he’d been sent home to Vegas to live with his mother”. A very oddly worded sentence that Tony was still trying to dissect.
Tony turned his attention back to the wood plane and heard Tobias sigh. He heard his footsteps as he crossed the short distance to the work bench. Lifting his eyes, Tony brought the object closer to his body knowing he was being slightly irrational, but he didn’t want it taken from him. Instead, the older man just rested his hip against the side of the bench and looked at him.
“I don’t mean the house, Tony. I can guess why you’re here. I know you sold your apartment at a loss when you got shipped off. When I heard that you had returned from your assignment today, I figured this is where you’d come. I tried to meet you when the ship docked, but I got hung up in the office.”
Tony frowned turning the original question over in his mind. “I don’t understand then. Why are you asking me why I’m here if you already know the damned answer?”
Tobias sighed, and Tony stubbornly ignored the look of pity in the man’s eyes. “I also know that you got your second doctorate while you were gone. You could get a job anywhere, kid. Why the hell are you still in this fucking town? You could write your ticket? Why are you hanging around hoping for scraps of affection from people who treated you like crap? ‘Cause that’s what you’re doing here, right? Hoping that at least Abby or McGee will come around with their tales between their legs to begging for forgiveness? Only we both know that won’t happen. They’re too self-absorbed to do something like that.”
Tony hung his head and studied the plane turning it over in his hand. He’d watched Gibbs use it a million times, moving it slowly and steadily across a piece of wood bringing out the vision he had in his head. Kinda like he’d done for Tony. He’d seen a rough piece of wood in an alley in Baltimore then taken it home and cared for it with patience and sometimes tough love. Maybe he was hoping that Abby or McGee would pull their heads out and care again. What else did he have, though?
“This place, this town,” Tobias started hesitantly knowing he was about to break the kid’s, heart. He didn’t know what else to do, though. Jethro would have wanted him to keep an eye on his star pupil, and by God, that was what Tobias was gonna do. “This isn’t your home anymore, Tony. These people don’t deserve you. We both know nothing good is going to come of your meeting tomorrow with Vance. He can’t see past your undetermined status to realize your value.
“We also both know that Gibbs would not have wanted this for you. The last thing he’d want is for you to spend the rest of your life in this basement buried in memories of dead people like he did. So, I ask again… What the hell are you doing here, Tony?”
Tony lifted tired, sad eyes to look at the man who had been his mentor’s best friend. For the life of him, he didn’t know. What the hell was he doing there? And, if not here, then where?
Looking back to the wood plane, Tony thought about Gibbs and quietly asked… “What do I do, boss?” Unfortunately, the only answer was silence. Probably because Tony already knew what he needed to do in his head, but his heart wasn’t quite ready. “How do I move on when no one will give me answers, Tobias? I’m not fucking stupid. I know there’s something shady going on with this whole deal. Why the fuck was I shipped off to the middle of the goddamned ocean?”
“Because it was the safest place for you,” Tobias offered sighing. Tony frowned and pulled out his cellphone. Tony watched the older man shoot off a message to someone, and he remained quiet until he got a response.
“I told them that this whole keeping you in the dark thing wouldn’t work. The agent afloat position wasn’t Vance’s idea. He wanted to put you on an investigation that he was going to have Gibbs handle to find a mole within NCIS, but the higher ups at the Sentinel and Guide Council insisted that you be protected until we could get some answers. You’d probably still be there but they were worried about your mental health, so Blair demanded they recall you.”
Tobias pulled a stool that was used for visitors near the bench and took a seat. “We don’t know for sure that Gibbs was the real target the day that he was shot. The simulations we ran to recreate what happened were 50/50 on who the target was, but there is a chance that the shooter was aiming got you, kid.”
Tony opened his mouth and then slammed it shut almost immediately trapping in the sound of horror that was trying to break free. When he felt like he could speak without shaming himself, he tried again. “I don’t understand. Why would they aim for me? I don’t… it’s my fault that Gibbs was murdered?”
“No!” Tobias snapped, and then took a breath before continuing. “It is not your fault, even if you were the target. The only people at fault are the one who pulled the trigger and anyone backing that person. So, knock that shit out right now. Now, I can’t fill you in completely, because there are still living people in danger. How much do you know about Gibbs’ bonding?”
Tony shrugged before answering. “From what I could find out he bonded with Aaron Hotchner and Spencer Reid from the BAU. Hotchner was killed, and Reid was sent to Las Vegas to be with his mother. For some reason, they didn’t live together or acknowledge the bond publicly. Gibbs was pretty damned mum on the whole thing. He was also an even bigger irrationally grumpy asshole than normal. Other than that, neither myself nor my contacts could find out any more information. I still don’t understand why someone would want to kill me.”
Tobias nodded. “Well, thank heavens for that. I’d be worried if they were able to. The answer to the why you would be a target is related to Gibbs’ mates. Before he bonded with Gibbs and Spencer, Aaron Hotchner was an Undetermined status just like you are. After meeting Gibbs, Hotchner came online as a Swing SentinelGuide. Gibbs was positive that you would also if you ever found your mates. He was concerned for Hotchner’s safety, and Aaron agreed. So, they decided to keep things quiet, and Gibbs would stay on his own.”
“So, Spencer Reid has lost Gibbs and Hotchner, and what… he was just… sent off into the sunset? Gibbs wouldn’t have wanted that!”
“There isn’t much else to do with him right now, kid. Like I said, there are things I can’t tell you. I also know that Gibbs would have shot me if I’da let you languish here in this basement and become him.”
Tony frowned at Tobias, and then let his gaze fall to the wood plane in his hands. Taking a deep cleansing breath, Tony let it out slowly knowing what he needed to do. Gibbs had one family member left, and Tony was going to do his best by him.