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. 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.
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 One: Dr. DiNozzo, Undetermined No More
Eight Weeks after his tough love talk with Fornell in the basement, Tony sat behind his desk at the Las Vegas Crime Lab. He was the new night shift supervisor. He’d had multiple job offers once he started putting his name out there. His dual doctorates in Criminal Forensics, and the new one he’d just gotten while serving aboard the USS Regan in Criminal Justice had opened doors that he’d never considered before. Once he’d given all the offers a fair consideration, the Vegas job was the one that intrigued him the most.
He liked the idea that the skills he’d honed at NCIS would be of good use, but the job was still something a little new. He’d had plenty of offers in DC, but the notion that he could move to the opposite side of the country, and basically reinvent himself was appealing. Everyone had questions about his undetermined Sentinel and Guide status, and it was Vegas who seemed to be the most understanding. Tony wasn’t sure what to think about what Tobias had told him, and therefore hadn’t mentioned it in his interviews.
Vegas was also where Tony knew that Dr. Spencer Reid was, and he was determined to help the young man in any way he could. So far all he’d been able to determine was that the man was in Bennington Sanitarium, but gaining access to the man had thus far been difficult. He had a call into Blair Sandburg to try and get assistance, but it seemed as if the Pentacle Guide was ducking his calls as he’d yet hear back from him.
Currently, he was sitting in his office at the Crime Lab having come in early. Some things just didn’t change. He lived at his job at the Vegas Crime Lab as much as he had in DC at NCIS. Normally, he spent time reviewing active cases, and seeing if anything jumped out at him on ones that were getting stuck. When that ran out, he pulled cold cases to see if he could see anything new that the original investigator hadn’t caught. So far, he’d closed a cold case already, and had Sara and Detective Brass running some new information on another.
Today, though, his lone bonded Sentinel and Guide team were returning from their vacation, and he would be meeting them for the first time. He’d only been on the job for a week, but they had taken two weeks off, and left the week before he’d arrived.
There were other Sentinels and Guides working in the lab on not just his shift, but the others as well, but there was only one bonded pair in the whole crime lab. Coincidentally, they were also the strongest Sentinel and Guide pairing in all of Las Vegas. Tony felt fortunate that they were on his team. He just hoped that they liked him more than their coworkers. So far, things were rough with the rest of the team. He hadn’t exactly expected that he would walk in, and they would just fawn all over him. However, he didn’t think the previous team leader would leave quite so much… baggage.
Dr. Gil Grissom was widely known in the forensics community. Tony had actually met him once while doing his doctorate for his first degree. The man was odd to say the least. He came across like every highly intelligent person that Tony had ever met in his life. Incredibly brilliant, completely out of touch with emotions and current… well current anything that wasn’t in their field of work. Tony had enjoyed the man thoroughly.
So, he could understand why they were upset he was gone. He also knew that it was harder to give the new guy a chance when you liked the old one so much. Dr. Grissom had been a part of the hiring process though, and they’d had a talk after he’d been selected for the spot. Needless to say, things were pretty much like he’d been warned they would be by the older man.
The undersheriff had made it clear Tony could pick a new SIC if needed. He hadn’t wanted to deliver another blow to Catherine Willows, though, so soon after she lost the spot she felt was hers. Tony sympathized with her, but there were some issues raised of which one he venomously disagreed with, one which he wholeheartedly agreed with, and the rest he was indifferent about. He absolutely hated the notion that an S&G status, even once such of his own as undetermined made him a better anything.
There was absolutely no reason why Catherine’s mundane status should automatically put her at a disadvantage. At least not with most candidates. She had experience. She was determined. She was damned good at her job, and had fought hard for her position. It’s just… so was Tony. There was unfortunately no category she excelled at, which Tony didn’t beat her in.
Both of his doctorates were obtained while on the job. His years on the job equaled hers, and his time at NCIS gave him CSI field experience. He had just as much leadership experience as she did, and damnit he was good at what he did. He also didn’t have the… Well Tony didn’t know what it was. He was labeling it as bias at the moment. Catherine didn’t seem to outright hate Sentinels and Guides, but considering how common they were, and how much training there was available, she seemed to be intentionally ignorant on the subject.
The thing that Tony agreed should work against her was her tight relationship with her father Sam Braun who owned one of the local casinos. Normally, Tony would be the last one to hold their parent against them. He wasn’t quite convinced though that Catherine was as able to separate her relationship with her father from her job when needed. Grissom had hinted there were a couple times where Catherine may have let Sam influence an investigation. That was a promotion killer in Tony’s eyes. It would also see her off his team the second he saw signs of it.
The only mandate he’d given her for her to remain as his second in command was a shit load of Sentinel and Guide training. So far, she was mulling over the issue very, very slowly. He hoped that she mulled faster, because he was only giving her ‘til the end of the week. Her upset left the other two upset, and defensive on her behalf. Especially one Sentinel Warrick Brown.
Tony had looked at CSI Brown’s file, and almost immediately demanded his release or removal from his team. The fact that a rookie had been killed while he was out placing a bet on the clock was inexcusable, in his opinion. Tony understood that there was no guarantee if he was there that he would have stopped her death and not just been killed himself. There were just some things Tony couldn’t overlook though and the gambling thing, leaving your job to support your habit just….
Grissom had practically begged him to give Warrick a chance to keep his job. When reviewing his files, Tony didn’t see any counseling requirement for his gambling addiction having been mandated. Despite the fact that it was years past, Tony hadn’t been willing to make an exception on that, and Grissom had been more than happy to agree. Warrick of course wasn’t very happy about it. He especially wasn’t happy that Tony had insisted on picking an acceptable list of choices. There would be no BS’ing his way out of this, which might be what pissed him off the most.
Then there was the weird dynamic between the two. Catherine and Warrick seemed to have a mutual attraction thing going on. Only with one being a mundane, and the other a level 4 Sentinel there was no way that it would work. Tony was pretty sure that it was unhealthy, but he wasn’t positive. Really there was nothing he could do about their personal relationships as long as it didn’t interfere in their jobs in a way he could prove.
Someday, Warrick and his Guide would find each other, and a relationship with Catherine wouldn’t be given a second thought. The bonding urge to be with your true mate simply overrode any other sexual relationship you had. For both of their sakes, he hoped that their mutual longing remained an unresolved sexual tension. He was hoping that both Catherine and Warrick would come around, but it was looking dim at this point.
Sarah Sidle was the last person Grissom made a request of him about. Apparently, Catherine and Warrick weren’t the only ones sniffing at each other that would result in a doomed relationship. Guide Dr. Gil Grissom and Guide Sarah Sidle apparently had their own mutual appreciation society going on. Like Catherine and Warrick, they both had the sense to not do anything about it. Grissom was logical enough to understand things could only end painfully, if they explored their interests.
Sarah was… well Tony wasn’t sure what Sarah was in regards to Grissom. Out of everyone he’d met so far though Sarah was the one he understood the most. She was an individual who’d had a crappy childhood, which created an incredibly high need to protect one’s self from the entire world. She’d build a nearly impenetrable wall that she let very few inside. She hid behind a mask of anger and indifference. Tony had a feeling the anger wasn’t completely an act, but he was pretty sure the indifference was.
Gil Grissom had been someone she’d let in. She’d come to Vegas from San Francisco just because of him, and now he’d left her, again. Granted it was because he was concerned that he wouldn’t be able to hold himself in check. Therefore he logically decided that distance would in this case not make the heart grow fonder.
Tony hoped that he was right. He understood that what Sarah needed from him was time. So, time she was getting. She was basically respectful, and was very good at her job. She may question his decisions at times, but she always did so in an appropriate fashion behind the closed door of his office. She never acted up in the field or in front of the PD or even other lab members. He hoped that he’d find out who the person was behind those walls she’d built. He was willing to wait as long as needed, and to do whatever he had to in order to help her along the way.
Tony leaned his elbows on the desktop and bending forward rubbed his temples. Ever since the first day he’d stepped foot into the lab, he’d had a mild headache. It would dim slightly when he went home, but the second he stepped foot back into the lab the next day it returned. Tony was pretty sure that it was building a little every day. He’d had headaches on occasion, but nothing like this. This was… He was about to take another dose of highly unhelpful headache medicine, when he heard a knock on his door. Looking up he saw two men coming in, whom he recognized as Nick Stokes and Greg Sanders his missing CSIs.
Tony stood to greet them, but the second that the two of them crossed the threshold into his office, Tony’s world exploded. Screaming, Tony put his one hand over his ear, and the other was clenching something tightly to his chest. He squeezed his eyes shut as his life erupted into a whole barrel of too much. The sound was awful. It felt like he was at a Guns N’ Roses concert standing right in front of one of their big speakers without headphones. Only it was the sound of what felt like every fucking person in Vegas. The Sentinel friendly lights in the office felt like they were burning into his skin and retinas despite the fact that his eyes were squeezed shut, Tony swore he could still see things, and he was pretty sure it was literally the insides of his eyelids. The smell was worse than any dumpster or landfill dive he’d done in his entire career.
And the feelings…
Jesus, it felt like he could feel the emotions of every person in Vegas inside of his head. On top of everything, he could hear someone screaming like they were being murdered. He was pretty sure that it was him, but he couldn’t make it stop. This wasn’t right. He knew enough about Sentinels and Guides to know that this wasn’t right. It was like someone had given him all the traits of a top level Sentinel and added in all of the traits of a top level Guide just for fun. That wasn’t supposed to happen. It wasn’t supposed to be even possible, and it was tearing him to pieces. Jesus fuck, Fornell had been right.
If something didn’t change soon he was pretty sure he was going to lose every ounce of his sanity. Scrambling back, he heard a door shut as he found the darkest corner of the room, and settled in rocking back and forth as he screamed and cried. He felt something crawling into his lap, and involuntarily his hand covering his ear dropped and buried itself into its fur. The emotions didn’t go away by any means, but they did dim slightly.
He felt the light being blocked and opening his eyes slightly to see that his office had turned into a zoo. On his lap was a Cinnamon British Shorthair Cat that was not small by any means. In front of him was a huge Brown Grizzly Bear. Leaning forward, Tony rested his forehead against its fur. His senses dimmed slightly as they had with the cat, but again didn’t go back to normal.
Across the room he could see a grey wolf with a spider monkey on its back. The office door was closed, but he could hear mixed in with everything else some kind of argument going on outside. It was all too much. Shutting his eyes tightly again, Tony just clung exhausted to the cat and Gibbs’ plainer. Hopefully help would come before he lost his mind.
He was watching the wolf and spider monkey, trying to determine what they were doing there when the office door opened abruptly, and Catherine came storming in. “What is going on in here? Why are you hiding on a corner? Come out and act like an adult.”
The office itself was a safe haven for a Sentinel. Grissom made sure his office was some place that his Sentinel, if found, could go to get away. It wasn’t quite an isolation room. The lab already had one, but when the door was shut, it would give enough of a barrier between the Sentinel and the rest of the lab that he’d get some relief from whatever was stressing him or her. The second the door was opened though that barrier was destroyed. All of the pain came rushing back, and Tony found himself curled up in a ball clutching the cat and planer as he screamed, again. It felt like someone had hit him in the head with a metal baseball bat while throwing acid into his eyeballs. All he could do was scream and hope the pain would end. Not long after the door shut again, he passed out the animals huddled around him to protect him from the world beyond the room.
The last thing Nick had expected when he walked into his new boss’ office was to feel like he’d met his Guide. Especially since he already had a Guide, who had been right next to him. “Nicky, what was that?” He heard Greg ask sounding strained, and slightly panicked.
Turning is head Nick opened his mouth to respond when Catherine and Warrick came running up. “We heard the screaming. What the hell is going on?”
“It’s Dr. DiNozzo. Something… I think he came online when we walked into his office.” Greg admitted softly, still sounding shaken. Concerned, Nick moved away from his position in front of the door to hug his Guide. It never occurred to him that anyone would be a threat to the (his) Guide inside the office. Unfortunately, Catherine took that as a sign that it was free to go in, and barged inside the room.
Nick heard the door open, and turned his head in horror as he listened to her start snapping at the man. The screaming had only just stopped. Nick knew that was thanks to the measures Grissom had taken to make his office Sentinel friendly when the door was closed.
Angrily, he quickly moved forward as Catherine berated the doctor, and clamping his hand around her arm yanked her out of the office. He practically threw her at Warrick, snarling as he once more closed the door. The urge to go comfort the Guide was great, but something was telling him not just yet. His understanding was that the doctor didn’t have an S&G status, and it seemed that when closed in the room with the Spirit Guides he was getting some relief. He stubbornly ignored the fact that he’d seen Valo and Dwight huddled protectively around the man with two other Spirit Guides.
“What in the fuck are you doing? Have you lost your goddamned MIND?” Nick snapped angrily, as Catherine struggled to get out of Warrick’s grip.
“Settle down, Catherine,” Warrick said shaking her slightly as she continued to fight. “That was probably the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen you do. I have been telling you for a week now that he isn’t wrong about those classes he says you have to take. HAD you taken before now them you’d know just what you just did to that man. Nick or Greg, you’re the bosses right now since this is an S&G issue. What are we doing? We can’t just leave him in there to suffer.”
“The hell they are!” Catherine snapped struggling in Warrick’s grasp.
“Actually, Catherine, Warrick is right.” The four turned to see Sarah standing there with her arms wrapped around her middle. Sentinel David Hodges and Guide Mandy Webster standing behind her.
Mandy nodded her agreement with Sarah’s proclamation, frowning at Catherine. Normally she liked the woman, but sometimes she let her ambition and her daddy’s name go to her head. Sam’s hatred for all things Sentinel & Guide were famous in Vegas. His refusal to let his daughter go through any of the mundane S&G classes had hurt her more than once. Her own stubborn refusal to see he was wrong hurt her even more.
“This isn’t a lab matter,” Hodges pointed out. The unbonded Sentinel didn’t usually take to others well, but somehow he and Dr. DiNozzo had clicked right from the start. Even though he wasn’t Dr. Grissom, Hodges was at least willing to follow the new boss’ lead for the moment. David’s dislike of Catherine was well known. So, no one was really surprised that he wasn’t taking her side. “Just because it’s happening in the lab doesn’t mean the Las Vegas PD has authority over the situation. Not when a Sentinel or Guide is involved.”
“I felt him come online,” Sarah added, still speaking softly. Of the group of Guides in the lab – Greg, Sarah herself, Mandy, and Henry – Sarah was the most emphatically sensitive. “He’s… I don’t understand what’s going on, but this is definitely an S&G matter. That makes Nick the responsible lab member. Even when Ecklie shows up Nick and Greg would outrank him. Not only are they individually stronger than any of the other Guides or Sentinels in LVPD they’re the strongest bonded pair in all of Vegas. Nick, I… we need to call Blair. This… what’s going on in there with him…”
Sarah took a deep breath, and David put a hand on her arm to try and help. Sarah smiled at the sometimes irritating lab rat. “I’ve never felt anything like him before. I had David call Ecklie right away. I just… it felt right. I’m sorry if I overstepped bounds. I… I like Dr. DiNozzo. He’s been great with all of us, being patient and giving us our space since he took over for Griss.”
Nick frowned not understanding what Sarah meant. “Don’t worry about the Ecklie thing. You made a right call. As for DiNozzo, I don’t understand what isn’t clear. He’s a Guide. I don’t understand what’s so confusing about that?”
Mandy immediately disagreed. “He’s not a Guide!”
Greg unintentionally spoke on top of her disagreeing with his mate. “No he’s not, Nicky. He’s…”
Greg immediately shut up, and Nick could feel a spike of panic through their bond. He also felt one of Greg’s bursts of inspiration similar to when he solved a puzzle in the lab. “Sarah’s right, Nicky. I am going to the isolation room to call Blair. This is… do NOT let anyone into that room.”
Glaring at Catherine, Greg ran off to the Iso room to make his call. He’d thought they were only a myth. Something to be whispered about on conspiracy sites, and treated like unicorns. If he was right though…