Title: Swingin’ on the Vegas Strip (SotVS)
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, Spencer Reid, Various other CSI:Vegas characters, OC-Edward Paddington, OC-Christian “CJ” Robertson, OC-Moss Dougal.
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: 3618
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.
Nick and Greg are equally shocked when they feel a pull they never expected to feel again. After all, you can only have one Sentinel or Guide, right?
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.
Chapter Seven: Help Arrives
When the three mates reached their new home with Nick driving, the car hadn’t even been turned off yet when Tony felt other people on the property despite not seeing any other vehicles.
“Do you guys,” he started to ask and was immediately cut off by Nick.
“Yeah, you have your weapon on you, right?”
Tony nodded as he slipped out the door on his side as Nick and Greg did the same.
“There’s something about one of them,” Greg offered quietly as he stood next to his Sentinel to help anchor him as he spread out his senses over the property.
“Yeah,” Nick agreed as his eyes scanned the desert area behind their property. “Almost feels like…”
He stopped speaking when a man came walking around the far side of the wraparound porch at the front of the house. Tony saw his two mates raise their weapons, but he was already putting his in his holster as he began moving across the lawn in long strides.
“It’s ok!” He called back, as the man on the porch stepped off and headed his direction. Tony knew the wide grin on the man’s face would match the one on his own. “Edward, thank God that you’re here.”
The two cousins met midway across the lawn with a hug, and Tony felt himself relax. Having something familiar like his cousin present helped make him feel secure. When the two pulled apart, Nick and Greg had moved to stand near them, and two men were coming from the direction of the out buildings.
“Edward, these are my mates Sentinel Nick Stokes and Guide Greg Sanders.”
He got distracted from the introductions as he heard Brando making a crumbly greeting to someone. Turning his head to find the animal, he saw the large grizzly checking out a smaller sun bear. Dwight was sniffing at what Tony recognized as Edwards polecat Agent P. He heard the roar of a bobcat as it made its presence known before trotting over to size up Brando. Vallo must have determined that Agent P was OK because he’d appeared to look for bugs to pick from the animal’s fur. When he felt Caan twining himself between his legs, Tony belt down to give the cat a scratch behind the ears before it strolled off to sniff at Agent P.
As the two strangers reached their little group, Edward began introductions. “Tony, Nick, and Greg, this is Sentinel Moss Dougal and his bonded Guide, Christian Robertson. We typically just call him CJ though. The other half of the team is in Hawaii getting Aaron transferred to Bennington where Dr. Reid’s mother is located at. We felt it was the most secure place for Aaron. When they come back, Dr, Reid will be accompanying them. It seems that karma is on our side, as two of Dr. Reid’s former BAU team members are part of this team. So, Guide Emily Prentiss and Sentinel Derek Morgan have gone to Hawaii along with Sentinel Jasmine Mirandez to escort them back here to Vegas.”
“Let’s go inside and get comfortable. Then we can lay everything out.” Nick suggested feeling prickly about hanging out on the lawn. Feeling his Sentinel’s unease, Tony looked to him but saw that Greg had already taken his hand. As they approached the porch, Tony noticed a pile of bags hidden behind the row of bushes, which the protection team picked up on their way inside.
Nick led the newcomers upstairs to show them their rooms, as they indicated they would prefer to stay inside. Tony and Greg followed them up only long enough to change, and then the two men headed downstairs to get drinks and settle into the study/library. There was a mini fridge in there with water, tea, pop, and beers that Tony grabbed a bottle of peach tea, while Greg grabbed a water for himself and a tea for Nick when he came in. Greg then settled on the couch, while Tony prowled around the room with Brando and Dwight following.
By the time the others made it to the room though, the two animals had herded Tony to the chair where Greg was with Dwight resting at his feet and Brando sprawled over the end resting his head on Tony’s chest.
“Shouldn’t the cat be on your lap?” Moss asked coming into the room and heading for the windows to keep a watch outside.
“There are drinks in the mini fridge there,” Tony offered before answering. “Brando thinks he’s a lap dog and likes to sprawl out all over me. Caan thinks he’s a mini-lion and is probably stalking something outside.”
“Leave it to you to have Spirit Animals with identity issues,” Edward commented as he came in followed by CJ.
Tony arched an eyebrow at his cousin when the man took a chair across from him. “And where is Agent P?”
Edward’s lips twitched as he admitted, “Most likely stalking behind Caan.”
“Hmm,” was all Tony offered in response drawing a snort from his English cousin. “So, let’s get down to business, shall we?”
“Agreed,” Edward replied nodding for emphasis as he placed a tablet on his lap. “Let’s get all our cards on the table, and make sure we all have the same information. T, give us a rundown of things on your side if you will?”
Tony sighed and then nodded, but didn’t respond right away. Instead, he spent several moments running his fingers through Brando’s fur and scratching behind his ears trying to decide where to start. “I guess it all starts just after Director Shepard died. Ziva David and I had been assigned to be her protection detail on a trip she was taking to LA for a funeral. Everything went according to plan until the funeral ended. At that point, she told us to take the rest of the trip off and asked for the keys to the vehicle.”
Tony paused to look down at his water bottle. Director Shepard’s death would always be what he considered his greatest failures. He wasn’t sure he’d ever be able to completely bury his guilt over not being there.
“At some point after that, she met up with Mike Franks and ended up in a shootout at an abandoned diner in the desert. Ziva and I were sent home while the NCIS LA team investigated her killing. I could tell that Gibbs was upset with me when I got back, and since I knew that I was at the very least partially to blame, I gave him a few days before I was going to go to see him. Only we got called in for a case before I could have that conversation. We were headed across the parking lot to the car to head to the scene, and I wanted to clear the air. I knew that it wouldn’t be a good idea to go to a crime scene with us, not on the same page. He kept telling me that he wasn’t mad, but given his past, with Jenny, I found that hard to believe. We were arguing about it when…”
Tony stopped and ran a hand over his face feeling Nick’s hand on his arm to offer some comfort. “The last thing that he said was my name. I don’t think I’ll ever get that out of my head. That and the feel of his blood on my face. That’s the second time. First Kate and then…”
“We have evidence that shows Jennifer Shepard was part of the organization responsible for Gibbs’s death. We also have evidence that she was to have brought you to the dinner so that you could be killed before coming online. We don’t know why she didn’t for sure. Ashcroft’s theory is that she had a moment of clarity and realized what she was doing and knew that killing you was wrong. We’re not sure why she didn’t call off the whole thing, or if Mike Franks knew what the truth was, but we believe that it had something to do with Svetlana Chernitskaya. We also have evidence to show that Ziva David was involved somehow. We just don’t know her exact role.”
“So, she was…”
“Jenny Shepard participated in a plot that would have resulted in the murder of an offline Swing SeintinelGuide. At the last minute, she had a change of heart, possibly because of her impending death.” Edward said firmly waiting for his cousin to connect the dots for the death that would truly haunt him forever.
Edward nodded carefully and tilted his head to one side. “We believe that you were the true target. Gibbs was concerned that you would be a target and theorized that whoever was behind the death’s of the Swing SentinelGuides was tracking the Undetermined statuses. We believe he heard something and… Tonio, we think he was saving your life.”
Tony felt like a ton of bricks had been dropped on him. Jenny Shepard had been out to kill him, and Gibbs had died saving his life. He was responsible for Spencer and Aaron losing their Sentinel.
“There’s more, T.”
“Jesus Christ, Eddie!”
“I don’t know how familiar you are with Spencer and Aaron’s team or their original True Sentinel, but the BAU tangled with a serial killer named Frank Breitkopf. He was a psychopath serial killer and abductor who liked to make people watch as he cut them open and remove their rib bone. We have evidence to suggest that he was paid off to prevent Jason Gideon from changing his mind about his True Mates. He had informed a few people that he was regretting his previous decision just before Frank popped up onto the BAU’s radar.”
“What are you saying?” Greg asked speaking up for the first time since they’d moved inside.
“We believe that Breitkopf was hired by this group to drive Jason Gideon to the point where he would no longer be able to bond with Aaron and Spencer. The bonding would have already been difficult due to the extent of damage done during Jason’s first breakdown. At this point, it’s impossible. Jason Gideon is now dormant, and unable to form any kind of bond with a Guide or a Swing SentielGuide.”
“How do you have all of this information?” Nick asked scratching behind one of Brando’s ears.
“I have been working on the Swing SentinelGuide deaths since I moved from MI6 to join the S&G Center after my friend Alec Trevelyan was mentally manipulated and then killed by this group. My cousin Ashcroft is the Quartermaster at MI6 and works on this with me along with their top agent 007. My current team was formed exclusively to put an end to what is going on.”
When Tony moved to get up, Brando made a sound of worry but moved and the others watched as the former NCIS agent left the room. When the front door slammed, Moss hurried out to follow the Swing outside. When Greg got up to follow, Edward shook his head slightly looking sad.
“I would give him some time. I am not trying to interfere in your relationship, and there will be no hard feelings if you feel that you need to follow him anyway. Anthony generally needs some time alone to lick his wounds before he is willing to receive any kind of comfort. Especially when he feels he was in the wrong and caused the ill deed. This revelation about Gibbs will hit him hard. I wish I had not had to tell him that bit of information, but unfortunately to hold it back would have put him in a greater danger.”
“So, do you think that these people are still targeting Tony?” Nick asked as Greg scooted over to curl up into his body.
“I do,” Edward confirmed as CJ moved to the window to watch the front lawn area.
“In fact, I feel so strongly about it that I have had CJ and Moss here in Las Vegas since the day after Anthony came online. They have been watching the three of you when you were all together, but their primary responsibility was Anthony.”
“Have they seen anything?” Greg asked softly. His words filled with concern.
“Not thus far,” Edward admitted reluctantly, “however, one thing that I did hedge the truth on was Ms. David.”
Edward shifted in his seat and took a drink before continuing. “We believe that Eli David and his children are not just heavily involved with this scheme, but that Ziva was placed with Anthony’s team to keep an eye on both Anthony and then Gibbs once Aaron came online and they bonded. The biggest question is where they are getting this list of Undetermined statuses. The list of people who have access to this information is quite… small.”
“Suddenly, I’m not sure this really is the best place for Spencer and Aaron,” Greg admitted softly.
Edward gave a sign and nodded his understanding of the feeling. “Believe me when I say that it was heavily debated. However, Blair was concerned with Spencer’s mental health, and how Anthony would react should Aaron not be brought here. Blair feels that Anthony is the future of our community, and doesn’t want to do something that will impede his growth and faith in the SS&G Family.”
There was something in that statement that caught Greg’s attention. He wasn’t sure what it was though, and for the moment filed it away until he could discuss it with Nick and Tony in private. Unable to wait any longer, he kissed Nick on the cheek and then headed outside to find Tony. He had a mentally hurt Swing to soothe.
Once he got outside, Greg headed toward the outbuildings. Besides the former guest house that was being given to Spencer and Aaron, and their new Sentinel if they found him, there were two other buildings. One was being used as a large man cave slash home theater where they could watch various sports events or one of Tony’s many movies. The other had been given to Tony to set up as a workshop. After their Swing had told them just what Gibbs meant to him and admitted wanting to take up woodworking as a tribute to the man, they encouraged him to bring the tools to Vegas and try his hand at the woodworking. He confessed that Gibbs’ basement had been something of a sanctuary for him and he hoped to find something soothing to
Tony had been reluctant when he’d first heard the idea insisting that he would be no good at it. Nick though had pointed out that no one is good at something when they first try it, and that if that was how he wanted to honor Gibbs than he should. Eventually, after a few hours spent curled up on their bed with a room full of Spirit Animals, Tony agreed to accept the offer.
Nodding to Moss who was pacing around the area like his bobcat Spirit Animal, Greg went into the barn and was unsurprised to see Tony sitting at the work bench. He was a little surprised to see him sketching something out.
“Whatcha workin’ on?” Greg asked softly as he walked over grabbing one of the stools Tony had bought for when he and Nick came out to watch. Before he sat he peered over Tony’s shoulder seeing some kind of a box being drawn with what looked like the Marine logo in a corner.
“Making a box for Gibbs’ flag and his metals to display out here,” Tony finally admitted. The way he peeked at Greg quickly supported the nerves that Greg could feel along their bond.
“That’s a great idea!” Greg responded enthused, and took a seat on the stool giving the Swing some space. “Does he have a lot of them?”
“Seven Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Awards from NCIS, plus a purple heart and his various other awards from the Marines. He has a silver star also, but… I don’t have that one. He gave it to someone else.”
“Wow!” Greg considered that for a moment before replying. “He must have been a hell of a man.”
“One of the best,” Tony said hesitantly. When it looked like he was trying to make his mind up about something, Greg just remained quiet waiting to see if he’d continue. Eventually, his patience paid off when Tony continued speaking softly with equal amounts of pain and reverence in his voice.
“Gibbs was one of the biggest bastards I have ever met in my life. We used to tell people that the second B was for bastard, and they’d laugh like it was some joke. If they spent more than 15 minutes around him though, especially when he was in case mode, and they would figure out that it wasn’t a joke. We’d have to earn basic things like the right to eat or take a break when working a case. He constantly played the team against each other, and even though I was his Senior Field Agent he never treated me like I was anything more than another agent on the team.
“He was forever going off all halfcocked by himself or keeping secrets that weren’t necessary making it nearly impossible to watch his six. Some days I would go home and question whether I had brain damage because it was the only thing that would explain why I stayed. But then…”
Tony trailed off for a moment, and Greg once more remained quiet as he waited to hear what he was hoping were the positives. There better be positives coming because at the moment Greg wasn’t feeling too positive about Tony’s former boss.
“When I was laying in the isolation unit at Bethesda sure I was going to die from the plague, he stormed in, gave me a pat on the top of my head, and ordered me not to die. Not even a minute before I’d been sure I was toast, but the second his order came I knew that there was no way I could disobey. I’d never let him down by outright disobeying an order and I wasn’t starting then. When I met him in Baltimore I’d already had to leave one PD because of corruption, and by the end of that investigation it was apparent that it would be happening for a second time. Gibbs swore to me that he’d have my back, and that wouldn’t happen if I came to work for him. Rule #5: You don’t waste good. There might have been times that I hated his guts, but I always knew that if I was in trouble he’d scorch the earth to find me.
“When my father made an appearance last year in the middle of a case after mostly ignoring me for about 30 years, Gibbs did his best to help me keep my head on straight. Even when I was fucking up, he stood by me and tried to keep me on track. When he was all done, he ordered me to his house and cooked me a cowboy steak and let me vent. He understood that no matter how much I hate my father for how he’s treated me that a part of me will never be able to stop wishing that he’d love me. Whenever I felt lost or had something in my head that I couldn’t work out or even if the walls in my apartment just felt too small, I’d go over to his house and sit on the bottom step of the stairs down to the basement.
“Sometimes I’d talk and sometimes I wouldn’t say a word. Sometimes I’d bring food, sometimes I’d bring beer, and sometimes I wouldn’t bring anything, but he never bitched. He’d just sit there and work on the boat or whatever project he had going on and let me be. He was my first safe haven. He was the first person who made me feel like I belong, like I could mess up and it was ok. He might get pissed, and he might head slap me into the middle of next week, but he always forgave me and always wanted me to be the best me I could. We didn’t agree on everything, and sometimes I just wanted to tell him he was being an ass, but he was my big brother and my best friend and every fucking thing I had… And he died because of me.”
“No,” Greg said softly but firmly making Tony look up. “He died for you. He died because some asshole wanted to kill you because you’re different and you’re special and that makes them feel threatened. He died because he took an oath to his country at the very least, but more likely he died because he loved you and wasn’t about to let some asshole steal you from the world because we need you. He died a hero, and I will give my thanks every night for the rest of my life that you had him to watch your six. We’ll find these motherfuckers, and we’ll take every last one of them down and we’re going to do it for Gibbs because he deserves that. At the very least, he deserves that much.”
When he got done, Greg held Tony’s gaze until the older man nodded and went back to his sketch. There wasn’t much outwardly change in his expression, but he could feel the change through their connection. It felt lighter than it had since he and Nick walked into Grissom’s old office and met the last part of their whole.