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, 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. AGAIN! I thought I’d be able to fix her earlier attitude. I PLANNED on fixing her earlier attitude. And then… this happened.
Chapter Word Count: 4449
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 Six: Return to Work
Two weeks later, Tony was sitting in Ecklie’s office comparing notes with what he’d been told happened while he was gone with what had been officially reported. The Trio were scheduled to start back to work later that same day, and he needed to touch base with the Undersheriff before the beginning of his shift. There were decisions that needed to be made. Some much more difficult than others.
“Tony, thank you for coming in to see me,” Conrad said and Tony nodded smiling. He knew the reputation that Ecklie had as an uncaring hardass. Fortunately, Tony was an expert at dealing with such individuals, and because of that had so far gotten along just fine with the man.
“No problem,” Tony replied taking a sip of his coffee. “I’d planned on touching base with you anyway, and doing it before shift start makes sense.”
Conrad smiled and nodded as he seemed to settle in his chair more comfortably. “How’s the new house? Did you all get everything set up the way you want it?”
Tony nodded enthusiastically. He was absolutely in love with their new house. It was built in a Classic Colonial style, which was unusual for the area they were in, but Tony’d immediately fell in love the first time he’d seen it. The property was quite a bit larger than what they’d been looking for, but beyond their property was nothing but a vast expanse of wild desert. They were going to spend a fortune on electricity paying for the air conditioning, but it was completely worth it.
The home was two stories with a basement, and several outbuildings. It looked more like something that belonged in New England than in Nevada, but Tony had been enchanted by the building. One of the outbuildings was actually a guesthouse, and the trio had immediately declared that it would belong to Spencer and Aaron.
Thinking of the genius gave him a pang of worry, but quickly he felt soothing vibes sent along the bond he shared with Greg and Nick, which helped settle him. Their fellow Tribemate was safely ensconced in Honolulu with the 5-0 team. During the day he spent his time with Aaron in the Swing’s room reading to him or just telling him what was going on in the world. at night, he was staying at Lt Commander McGarrett’s house. A member of 5-0 was with each of them at all times. it was the best solution that Tony had until they could find the right place for Aaron in Vegas. Where that was, they would not know until Tony had time to talk things out with his cousin once the Elite Protection Team arrived that evening.
“The house is wonderful,” Tony gushed turning his thoughts back to a happier subject. “I am more thankful than ever fir the money my Uncle Clive left me when he died. Without it, we wouldn’t have been able to get things done so fast. I hear there was an issue while I was gone between Catherine and Warrick over who was running the shift?”
Undersheriff Ecklie nodded sighing. “I appointed Warrick temporary supervisor as per our discussion over the phone given that Nick wasn’t available, obviously. By the way, he has started attending his mandatory sessions for his gambling addiction as per your order. Anyway, Catherine was less than thrilled about the decision, needless to say, and made her displeasure known. Warrick asked that I let him handle it, and promised me that he’d contact me if he couldn’t deal with the situation. There was apparently an incident at a crime scene yesterday, and he called me to let me know he wanted her sent home because she was trying to cause a disruption with the other shift members. I talked to the two of them and the officers on the scene and quickly agreed with his request. She is to be coming in today to find out what is going to happen as a result.”
Conrad sighed and took a sip from his coffee mug before continuing. “Honestly, I am highly disappointed in her. She’s letting Sam’s prejudice ruin her career. I’ve always known Catherine to be a good woman. While it is true that she’s incredibly headstrong, she’s never let it get in the way this much before. The Sherrif and I reviewed that course that you suggested we set up that your friend runs, and we agree that it would be good for not just lab members but for the PD as a whole. We also would like to see you add two more members to your team, and one of them to be your co-SIC along with Nick. Warrick advised me that he doesn’t want to be put in a lead position again, and Sarah advised me she also wasn’t interested at this time. I think that with yourself, Nick, and Greg being a bonded pairing that your shift will need extra people on it.”
Tony nodded making a note on his phone. “I will look into it, and I think you are right. Nick and I had already discussed he may need to step down from the position, but I like the idea of having two SICs long with a couple new team members. From what I have seen of this team’s case load, they are almost always running more cases per person than I would like to see. I will review the details of the incident last night, and then talk to Warrick as soon as he comes in. my initial thought depending on the severity of the incident that there be a suspension and that the training courses will need to be completed before she comes back if Warrick’s Sentinel status was a factor.”
“It was,” Conrad said sighing. “She basically accused him of fabricating evidence because he righteously wanted to use his Sentinel abilities on the scene. It’s something that we’re authorized to do, and he’s been licensed as being ranked high enough to use his enhanced eyesight and hearing in the field. She raised such a fuss that the officers on the scene had to come in and separate them because they were afraid that she was going to attack him, Warrick for his credit had refused to engage her beyond ordering her off of the scene. Brass was there and told me that he was afraid for a second that they were going to have to physically remove her.”
Tony sighed and ran a hand over the back of his neck as he considered the situation. “This isn’t good, Conrad,” Tony commented frustrated. “Forget the Second in Command position, If she’s going to act like that, I can’t even allow her onto a crime scene. Surely this isn’t the first time that either Nick or Warrick have wanted to use their enhanced senses at a scene before. If I recall from when I reviewed their personnel files, both Sentinel CSIs have licenses to use all or part of their enhanced senses at scenes, and Hodges is licensed to use his enhanced smelling and taste both in the lab and to be called into the field as Sentinel Specialist if needed.”
“It’s not,” the Undersheriff confirmed. “Brass came to see me last night. Apparently, she’s getting a lot of pressure from Sam not to give in. He’s even trying to convince her that she needs to sue, which is ludicrous, and she won’t win. So, I hope that she doesn’t go through with it. The law is very definitely on our side in this, every law enforcement agency in the country requires minimum S&G training to be hired. Frankly, I don’t know how she got in without it. I have a feeling that Grissom was involved in it though.”
Tony shook his head and suspected from what the former Lead had told him that Conrad’s guess was the truth. “Well, she’s not going to get away with it any longer. You are correct that the law is on our side. One of the areas I specialized in for my Criminal Justice degree was S&G law as it relates to law enforcement. I will talk to Warrick and the Catherine. As long as Warrick’s statement matches what you’ve told me then she will be placed on indefinite suspension until she completes a series of training, which will now be added to from the original list. I feel for her. I know what it’s like to be manipulated by your father, but she’s a grown woman. I can’t allow her attitude to put cases and team members at risk because she won’t stand up to her daddy.”
Conrad nodded and held out his hand as Tony stood. “I agree with your assessment Dr. DiNozzo. Let me know if you need my assistance further, but I have nothing but faith that you’ll get this all worked out satisfactorily.”
Tony was in his office talking quietly with Greg and Nick when Warrick knocked on the doorframe and walked in. “You wanted to see me, Boss?”
Tony nodded and waved him in as Nick and Greg made their excuses, and then left patting Warrick’s shoulder on the way out shutting the door behind them. “Please, have a seat. I need to get your account of what happened yesterday at the scene. I’d also like to hear your thoughts on how things went while I was gone.”
Warrick let out a deep sigh as he took a seat in front of his new boss’ desk. “Man, I don’t wanna do that, again. I have a new appreciation for you and Griss after that let me tell you. Seriously man, I don’t know how you do it.”
Tony smiled as he settled back into his chair. “Leadership has its good points and it’s ‘why the hell am I doing this, again?’ moments. That is for sure. Let’s start with the issue last night so that we can get it out of the way.”
Warrick nodded and began explaining things from his viewpoint. “Catherine and I were at a scene in one of the suburbs investigating the death of the single male homeowner. It appeared that he had been killed in his living room, and that there was a struggle. As I was processing my area, I kept hearing a ticking sound from the other side of the room where Catherine was. When I would ask her about it she kept saying there was no ticking, and it must be in my head. I wanted to use my enhanced hearing that I am licensed to use on scenes to track the sound down, and I need her to be my witness that I wasn’t doing anything shady. And, that’s where it went crazy!”
Warrick shook his head in obvious confusion and disgust as his mouth turned down into a frown. “The thing is we’ve done this probably a hundred times or more. She watches me do my thing, and makes some comment about me playing games. I find the evidence, and then she finds some way to justify how it’s something other than my Sentinel senses. It’s annoying, but Nick and I are both used to it by now. For some reason though this time she chose to take serious issue with the whole thing.
“She started bitching that she knew how to do her job, and that she didn’t need me coming in behind her looking over her shoulder now that I was Team Lead. And, I needed to remember that once ‘that super freak with the degrees’ returned with Nick and Greg that I’d be knocked down to being a nobody again just like her.”
Warrick ran a hand over his mouth before continuing. “When I tried to reason with her, she just… I don’t even know, Boss. It just kept getting worse no matter what I said or didn’t say. At some point Brass and the two officers on the scene came in, and Brass ordered her to get her shit together. That didn’t help though, because given that he’s a low level 2 sense Sentinel she just accused him of being part of the conspiracy against her.”
Tony cocked his head at the last statement, and he began to worry that there was some psychological issue to the whole thing. He decided though that he’d let Warrick finish before he asked questions. “Eventually, Brass ordered the officers to escort her off of the scene, and called one of the stand by CSIs to come help me. While we waited, he watched me as I tracked the ticking sound, and found a high end men’s watch hidden behind a table and underneath a floor length curtain out of view. We think it must have gotten thrown or something, hit the wall and landed on the table.
“There was evidence to suggest that the table was bumped at some point, because there was a lamp and a couple glasses that were turned over. I think the watch most likely at that point slid off the table and fell onto the floor behind the curtain. Where it landed you couldn’t see it, and had to move the table to get to it. I’m sure Catherine would have gotten around to it, but…” Warrick broke off at that point, and just shook his head again.
Having decided he’d heard enough, Tony spoke up. “A couple things. First off, you and Nick should not have to ‘get used to’ someone mocking your abilities. I don’t even know how someone who works in a laboratory could not believe something that has been scientifically proven. This isn’t some theoretical mumbo jumbo like is Bigfoot real. This is actual proven fact, and the mocking and bullshit will be ending. I will not allow an environment where people are treated like that. It only fosters hidden resentment that will eventually blow up in all of our faces.
“Secondly, Brass and the two officers on the scene all complimented how you handled the situation, and I wanted you to know that you have my thanks for keeping things professional in the face of that mess. I have some questions I would like to ask you, because you know Catherine better than I. If you don’t want to answer, I will understand.”
Warrick nodded his understanding and Tony proceeded with his first inquiry. “I am concerned by the comment Catherine made about there being a conspiracy against her. Do you think that she was just throwing that out there, or does she really believe that there’s a plot in the lab against her?”
Warrick sighed. “I like Catherine. Probably a lot more than is wise, or than I should, but fortunately, not enough to act on it and make a really stupid mistake. Enough so, though, that we’ve spent quite a bit of time hanging out in the off hours. I know everyone blames her issue with Sentinels and Guides on Sam Braun, but they forget that he wasn’t around when she was a kid.
“She didn’t even know he was her father until she was a teenager and almost out of high school. While she did have contact with him before that it was only on occasion, so I can’t see how he had a huge impact on this. Not to mention that I’ve heard her tell Sam off when she feels that he’s wrong. No, personally I think this issue is more from her mother, whom she is incredibly close to.”
Warrick scratched his chin and resettled in his chair before going on. “I’ve met her mom a few times, and to say the woman doesn’t like me is putting it nicely. At first I thought that she was racist, but lately I am wondering if this whole thing is because her mom doesn’t like Sentinels and guides. ‘Cause while everyone knows Sam isn’t fond of them, he employs Sentinels and Guides in his casino willingly even. From what I’ve heard he won’t hire a head of security that isn’t at least a 4 sense Sentinel, and he prefers guides to be working the tables so they can feel if someone is cheating.
“So, it seems to me that he’s willing to put his personal bullshit aside for business, and I can’t see him wanting Catherine to tank her career over a group of people he readily employs. Now, how he treats those Sentinels and Guides is a whole other thing, and honestly, I can’t see him even wanting to be in the same room as you without his personal security there. I think to be honest that Catherine doesn’t know what she thinks or feels about Sentinels and Guides. Some days she seems almost completely on board about the whole thing, and then some days she will barely even admit they’re real and treats them like unicorns. I do think though that if she thought that her job was going to be in danger that she would pull her head out and at least be on board enough to be civil about it. I umm…”
Tony arched an eyebrow at the other man at the pause and what felt like a change in the subject. “After the… after Holly died, Grissom did chew my ass. So, when you brought it up again after all this time I wasn’t… happy. I want you to know though that I get it. Maybe more now after being in charge of this place at night for the last few weeks, but I get it. I won’t be giving you a hard time about it.”
Tony eyed the man on front of him thoughtfully, and after a few minutes of contemplation decided to let him in on a few things. “When I got out of college, I went directly into the Peoria Police Academy. I then spent the next six years and some change working in three different PDs. I started out in Peoria, but eventually moved to Philadelphia PD where I did undercover work. I ended up having to leave there because it was found that the Police Chief and his three most senior captains were getting paid off by the Vicca mob family that I was investigating. I had to leave Baltimore PD when I found out that my partner was dirty and taking bribes from another mob family.
“When I was at NCIS my boss Gibbs got amnesia for awhile and I had to lead the team. My director at the time refused to do anything about the reprimands I wrote up for my team members when they came in late, left early, or refused to follow commands. She then tried to get me to work an unsanctioned undercover job at the same time, until I told her I would quite and take everything I knew straight to SecNav. My father is a conman and a criminal and I despise everything he is and represents. You are still on my team because Grissom stuck up for you. He assured me that you had learned your lesson, and asked me to give you a chance. So, I am doing that. Prove him right, and I will fight to the death for you. Pull any BS like you did that cost Holly her life and I will personally see to it that you’re put behind bars.”
After Warrick nodded his understanding, Tony asked one final question, “Are you sure about not wanting a Co-SIC position with Nick?”
“Yeah, man,” Warrick assured. “That shit is crazy. I’m not ready to be in charge of anything yet. Besides, I am hoping one of these days that I’ll find my Guide, and I think that I want to keep my options open, ya know?”
Tony nodded smiling. “I do, and I respect your decision. Should you change your mind, please let us know.”
Instead of answering right away, Warrick stood and held out his hand. “Thank you for the chance, Dr. DiNozzo.”
“You’re welcome,” Tony offered as he stood and shook the mans hand. After the CSI left, Tony sat back down and began his review of the current case files. Several hours later aftr the reviews were done, and new assignments were passed out, Tony was reviewing some cold case files when he heard someone come into his office. From the scent of the perfume, he guessed that it was Catherine before looking up to confirm that he was right.
“Ms. Willows,” Tony greeted, settling back in to his chair again. “Please shut the door, and have a seat.”
“What for? Just tell me whatever bullshit punishment that you’re going to dish out so that we can get on with this,” she spat back and he forced himself to take a deep breath and hold onto his temper.
“This can go two ways, CSI Willows,” Tony began calmly but firmly. “You can take a seat, be civil, and we can have a discussion, or you can turn in your resignation, and the Las Vegas Crime Lab will wish you luck on your future endeavors. Let me make myself very clear though. I will not tolerate your attitude. You’re no better than anyone else in this lab. I absolutely will not apologize for getting this position instead of you. I busted my ass to get here just as much as you did…”
“Yeah right,” Catherine sneered. “Poor little rich boy who’s ridden daddy’s coat tails his whole life.”
“And frankly I don’t care if you believe it or not,” Tony continued on as if she hadn’t spoken. He wasn’t going to get sucked into her name calling game. “Sit and talk, or leave and find yourself another job. Those are your only choices here. While I have some sympathy for you, it’s really not enough that I am willing to put up with the abuse you are heaping on me and your coworkers because of your deliberate ignorance. Sit. Leave. Decide now.”
Opening a folder, he slid a piece of paper toward the front of the desk. “Should you chose to leave, please sign that first. It’s your termination papers, as well as your acknowledgement that you’ve been advised that your anti-Sentinel and Guide actions will be reported to the S&G Center. From that point they will be made available to any future employer who inquires with them about any negative actions on your part toward the community.”
“Whatever,” Catherine snorted as she came forward and signed the paper. “You’re not the only game in town, and your threats don’t scare me. You’re nothing more than a playboy who’s conned his way into this position. When they figure out what a con you are they’ll come and beg me to come back. I won’t be gone long.”
With that the woman stomped out, and Tony was left to stare after her feeling like he’d failed somehow. It was absolutely not the resolution he wanted, or even expected given what everyone had told him. Shaking his head, he put the form in the folder, and woke his computer up. He had some reports to file with the S&G Center.
After the shift was over, Tony was sitting at his desk wrapping up some paperwork. Nick and Greg were sprawled over a couch he’d brought in waiting for him so that the three of them could meet the rest of the team at a local restaurant for a team breakfast. No one had expected Catherine to leave, and Tony felt like they needed something to remind themselves that everyone else was still there.
Just as he was finishing his last report, he heard a knock on his door, and looking up saw Detective Brass standing there. “May I come in?”
Tony nodded and stood to shake the former shift supervisor that he hadn’t had time to meet yet. He knew from his talk with Grissom though that the man was honest and someone he could put his trust in, and therefore had been planning to introduce himself.
“Detective Brass, it’s nice to meet you,” Tony greeted shaking the man’s hand.
“I’ve heard good things about you so far,” Brass acknowledged as he sat in front of the desk. “I wanted to come and make sure that you weren’t taking this exit of Catherine’s on yourself.”
Tony signed and as he tried to figure out what to say both Vallo and Caan appeared with Caan in his lap, and Greg’s spider monkey on the back of his chair. “I will admit that I feel like somehow I messed something up. Everyone I talked to said that in the end she’d come around, and yet instead I ended up having to file an incident report with the S&G Center and termination paperwork with the crime lab.”
“The S&G Center contacted me about your report because I was listed as a witness, and I agreed with your assessment that there was some outside stress and possibly parental manipulation contributing to her actions. I also saw that her paperwork listed her as having left voluntarily, and that she was eligible for rehire under certain conditions. Catherine is a good woman, and was Grissom’s right hand woman for years. She knew how to play the political game better than anyone, and would absolutely not be driven off any path she’d chosen to follow. This was not your fault, so cut out the bullshit guilt. You have done everything you could to do the best for both her and your team, and frankly, you were a hell of a lot kinder to her than I would have been.”
“We’ve been trying to tell him that for an hour, Brass,” Nick pointed out, and Brass just shrugged keeping his eyes on the new Team Lead.
“Doctor DiNozzo and I had a common friend,” Brass admitted offering a sad smile. “And, if I know Leroy Jethro Gibbs, which I did, I am guessing the good Doctor here will respond best to the blunt approach.”
Tony straightened eagerly. “You knew Gibbs?”
Brass smiled nodding once more. “I did. We went through Basic Training together, and served together on my first tour. He was a damned good man, and the world lost one of it’s greatest protectors that day. Some morning after shift we’ll go out and raise a glass to a hell of a fine Marine.”
“And you’ll tell me Gibbs stories?” Tony asked eagerly, and Brass chuckled nodding.
“Only if you do the same,” Brass negotiated, which Tony was happy to agree to. Without speaking further, the grizzly detective stood and headed out leaving behind a man much happier than he was when the older man arrived.