Title: You Shape My Shift
Characters: Tony DiNozzo and Aaron Hotchner
Content: Shapeshifters and Skinwalkers, Lore from Supernatural, Angst, Tony Leaves NCIS, Existing Relationship
Word Count: 3983
Summary: BAU Unit Chief Aaron Hotchner comes home from a frustrating case wanting only his partner. Instead finds a trail of clothing and other things that makes him feel like he’s back at a crime scene. What he finds at the end is the last thing he expected. Little does his partner know though that Aaron has a secret of his own.
You Shape My Shift
Aaron came home unexpectedly on a Thursday. Their case ended rather abruptly, and given how frustrating it had been the unsatisfying ending was just the cherry on top of a crap topped sundae. It was late, but they’d all wanted to get home. Not a single one of them wanted to stay another night in Moose Horn, Montana, and he was pretty sure that none of them wanted to ever go back.
He was looking forward to seeing his boyfriend. The two of them had only been living together for six months. So, the relationship was still new and shiny. Their first fight had ended up in laughter and hours of glorious makeup sex that made Aaron feel 20 years younger than his actual age. After Haley was killed, he was sure that he would never love or be loved again. He was sure that it was a sign from a deity he didn’t believe in that he was meant to be alone.
His marriage had been as tempestuous as his life prior to it had been. Haley never really forgave him for not giving in on the having kids issue. He hadn’t been willing to risk passing on his… anomaly though. Because of this, he’d taken her anger as his just due. Looking back, he understood that he had taken a lot more from her than he should have. It had taken Tony coming into his life to understand that at times she’d bordered on abuse, and sometimes she drove over the line like a long-haul trucker at the end of his route.
The last year, four months and 23 days had been better than any other point in Aaron’s life, and he felt like Spencer knowing that information in such detail. He knew that it was all thanks to the Italian who refused to let him continue to believe others’ perceptions of himself. He almost thought that just maybe he could tell him his final secret. The one that no one outside of his family knew, and had earned him a childhood of abuse and scorn.
He later would blame the combination of the case and his mind being on Tony on not immediately noticing that something was off. Once he got home, he headed straight to the bedroom to get changed. When his lover wasn’t there, he’d changed into comfortable sweats and an old t-shirt, before heading off in search of the NCIS agent, calling his name.
As he headed down the staircase, he noticed the trail of clothes that he’d missed when he come in. Freezing on the steps, he, after a moment’s pause, turned back to get his weapon out of the gun safe in the bedroom that he’d just placed it in. Once he was armed, he followed the trail of clothes. When the last piece of clothing, a pair of socks, were found mixed with what appeared to be toenails and fingernails in a pile on the floor, Aaron almost froze again.
Letting his inner Unit Chief spur him on, he followed the train of gelatinous piles of what appeared to be skin, which led to teeth, and eventually eyeballs with irises the perfect shade of hazel that matched the ones he took pleasure in looking into and seeing his love returned. The sight of them almost made him stop and turn to call for help, but there was some part of himself telling him that it would be a bad idea. So, after taking a moment to get himself together again, he pushed on entering the mudroom that the trail had led him to.
Quickly, his eyes traveled over the area spotting the naked being huddled in a corner with its back to him. He could see it, him his mind corrected he’s still a person, shaking and the profiler in him said it was as much from fear as it was cold. He was trying to decide who this person could be when his eyes landed on those perfect hazel eyeballs lying on the floor just behind him. “Aaron, you’re a moron,” he muttered to himself.
Guessing words weren’t going to comfort his lover, Aaron started removing his own clothes to do the one thing he knew would put them on an even level and hopefully relieve some of Tony’s fear. He’d always wondered what others saw and heard when he transformed. When he was finished his change into his primary animal form, which was a German Sheppard, he noticed the man he believed to be his lover was at least looking at him.
Carefully, he trotted over, keeping his animal body in as much as a submissive form as his instincts would let him. Reaching the man, he noticed two things immediately, the face held no distinctive features. It was probably as close to a blank slate that someone could get. The second was that the irises were completely black with the surrounding whiteness glowing slightly.
“Don’t hurt me,” the man begged. The voice was deeper and containing an odd distortion that Aaron couldn’t place. Leaning in, he licked the trail of a tear running down a cheek noting how the skin moved under his tongue as if there was no structure underneath it. That close proximity though gave him several bits of information that he needed to figure out just who this was.
The taste on his tongue was the same as his lover’s. This was not the first time that Aaron had licked the man’s skin, although it was the first time Tony had seen him when doing so in his dog form. The second thing he learned was that he smelled like his lover. Tony had always had something in his scent that Aaron was never been able to place. Now, he wondered if it had something to do with his other self. The last thing he learned was that this being felt like his mate, and now that things were all out on the table he could let himself think of Tony that way.
His perfect other half that completed the empty shell that he’d been before one Anthony Dominic DiNozzo, Jr strolled into his life as if he was born to be there. He’d always suspected that his mate had been abused as a child, and with the amount of fear that he smelled he knew it to be true. He’d met Senior once by accident. They’d been at Tony’s place packing when the man showed up. Nothing about the interaction endeared the man to Aaron.
Just the way he introduced himself as being the “real” Tony DiNozzo made Aaron hate him. As if Tony was some pathetic carbon copy when the reality was that the NCIS agent was everything his lying, scheming, slimy, conman father wasn’t. Hearing a sound somewhere between a sob and moan of fear, he shuffled forward slightly to press his body against Tony’s with his head resting on his lover’s shoulder. Closing his eyes, he forced himself to relax and found it much easier when a set of not so familiar arms carefully wrapped around him.
“Aaron,” the strange voice uttered softly as he felt his fur getting wet, but ignored that in favor of another lick to the cheek before he settled into Tony’s body, again. Sensing it was going to take time before his mate was comfortable enough to move, Aaron settled in for the long haul.
He wasn’t sure how long it was before Tony spoke, but Aaron thought that it was at least an hour. “We can get up now,” His mate offered quietly. “I’m changed back now, and I am guessing you’re hungry. I have a lasagna in the fridge ready to go into the oven. It’ll give us time to… talk. I’m sure you have questions.”
Aaron gave one more lick before offering his best doggy smile and then moved back to change back to his own human form. When he finished, Tony was watching him with a blank mask in place, and suddenly he had a hundred new questions. “Does it hurt?” He heard his mate ask, and Aaron shook his head as he began re-dressing.
“Hurt isn’t the right word,” Aaron offered as he pulled his sweats up over his hips. “Uncomfortable, yes. The first few times that I did it intentionally when I was a child it did hurt. Does yours?”
Tony looked at for a long while before nodding. Aaron watched as he opened a cupboard and took out a pair of his own sweats and a t-shirt. “It’s painful,” he admitted and sensing that Tony wouldn’t move out of his corner, he moved back into the kitchen. He was pulling the lasagna out of the fridge when his mate finally followed him into the room.
Carefully, he set the casserole on the counter to come up to room temperature as the oven heated. The pan was ceramic, and something his mate admitted he’d gotten from one of the house chefs as a child and that it was rather old. The woman hadn’t had any kids of her own, and therefore taught Tony everything she knew.
He noticed the Italian hovering on the edges of the room, and couldn’t take the fear and uncertainty in his eyes any longer. “I love you today,” he began as he carefully moved closer to his mate. “I loved you yesterday, and I will love you tomorrow. These things I can swear to you will always be true. You saved me from myself and my past. You healed wounds that I didn’t even know I had. I’ve never felt loved as much as I do by you. I don’t care about whatever else you are. Obviously, you aren’t the only one in this home that is more than just a man. Please, Tone, you have nothing to fear here.”
“It feels like I’ve always had to be afraid,” Tony admitted hesitantly as he came closer and finally took a seat at the kitchen table. Opening the fridge again, Aaron took out two bottles of beer before moving to join him.
“Unfortunately, I think that it’s part of being who we are,” Aaron admitted as he sat and set one of the bottles in front of his mate. “Does anyone other than Senior know?”
“No,” Tony confessed wrapping his hands around the bottle. “I’ve thought about telling Gibbs a time or two, but with the way things are now, I’m glad that I never did.”
“Whose form do you use?” Aaron asked after swallowing a mouthful of beer. “It’s my understanding that you can only use people that are alive?”
Tony nodded as he began picking at the paper label on the bottle. “There’s this guy, Jason, who lives in New York City. I met him when I was a child during one of Senior’s attempts to get rid of me. His father and Senior were business partners of sorts. Or, maybe con partners would be a better description. Anyway, Jason was at his father’s cabin hiding and Senior dumped me there with him. Only, I couldn’t hold my form as long then as I can now, and he found out. He’s…”
Tony smiled nostalgically as he finally looked up at Aaron and there was something other than fear in his eyes. “I guess there is someone else that knows. I mean, Jason does. He’s a really smart guy. Has three PhDs in Psychology. He’s totally human, but nearly as fucked up in the head as I am. We meet up every couple of years or so. That way I can update the image of him and age appropriately. He’s probably the closest thing I have to a childhood friend.”
“He sounds like a good man,” Aaron admitted and arched an eyebrow at Tony’s resulting chuckle.
“Sorry,” his mate offered, grinning a happy smile, “it’s just that lawyers normally hate him.”
“Oh?” Aaron asked waiting for the punchline, which was delivered with an even bigger grin.
“He’s a trial consultant.”
Aaron shook his head at that but laughed easily. “Well, no one can be perfect.”
“You are,” Tony offered solemnly. “For me anyway.”
“You saved me as much as you say that I saved you, and tonight… I never imagined that you could accept me. Even with your other form.”
“You knew?” Aaron asked surprised and Tony shrugged.
“I saw you a couple times in the backyard when you didn’t know I was home or awake. Even amongst the known freaks of the world Shapeshifters are freaks. Most don’t like something that they can’t trust their eyes to be true. I know that it doesn’t help that needing to copy a human form turns a larger average of us bad than most supernatural humans. Maybe had I not had Jason I would have, too. God only knows that Senior wasn’t much of a counterbalance to the chaos that goes on in my head. To be honest, Jason was probably my one true beacon of goodness, and he’s certainly had his moments of questionable decisions. Fortunately, they were only questionable in human standards, so still not as bad as it could have been on my own.”
Aaron cocked his head to one side but smiled as he reached out to take his lover’s hand. The house they lived in was actually Tony’s. It was a big old farmhouse out in the middle of nowhere, or as nowhere as you could get around the DC area. It wasn’t something that you would picture his mate owning from the outside. However, when you walked in it was completely Tony. There was not a hint of wood paneling or any other country-style decorating. Instead, it was all modern with metal and glass. Clean lines and open spaces. All except the mudroom, which he’d never understood before today.
“What happened tonight?” Aaron asked carefully. “Was it just because I got home unexpectedly, or…”
“Gibbs has been on a tear,” Tony explained frowning as he went back to looking at the beer bottle. “He wouldn’t let me leave the office. Said that I wasn’t trying hard enough. Said that the lack of evidence I’d located showed I was spending more time messing around than working.”
“That’s bullshit!” Aaron snapped scowling. “I don’t even have to have been there to know you were working as hard as you could. Let me guess, you were the only one who had to stay?”
Tony shrugged before answering. “Tim found computer evidence, and Ziva got some information from one of her contacts.”
“That doesn’t matter,” Aaron pointed out unhappily. “You need downtime, and no one can contribute on the same level in every case. Hell, even with Spencer’s big brain there are cases that he doesn’t have much to bring to the group. I would never punish him though because he didn’t meet some imaginary quota of evidence that I expected him to achieve. I really wish that you leave that place. I know you feel loyal to him, but what happens if he pushes it even longer next time?”
“I didn’t exactly have permission to leave this time,” Tony admitted looking up once more. “I finally told him I had to leave. He told me if I did he’d suspend me. I replied to him that if he did he’d get my resignation. I can’t… I’m tired, Aaron.”
“Do it,” Aaron urged, “hand in your resignation.”
“You know that you can get a job at any of the agencies in town, including some off the books ones. I bet that SHIELD would love to have your contacts, and I know that we would offer you any position you wanted. Fornell’s regular offers aren’t to piss off Gibbs despite what people think.”
“If nothing else, Tobias will be much more understanding of your special needs,” Aaron said offering a small smile as his lover’s eyes got big.
“Tobias?” He questioned with disbelief and Aaron laughed as he replied.
“Jack Russell Terrier.”
Tony snorted covering his mouth and nose, and Aaron knew the mouthful of beer he had taken was trying to come out either his mouth or nose. “That’s so… awesome,” Tony said after he managed to swallow his beer.
“Remind me to find a way to hold that over his head like forever. The FBI really allows things like us?”
Aaron frowned as he looked at his partner. “We’re people, not things. You’d never allow a victim to talk about themselves like this, and since I have a feeling this negativity about yourself stems from Senior then you should know it’s bullshit. You’re a person, just like Jason is. To answer your question though, yes. S.H.I.E.L.D isn’t the only agency that hires supernatural human beings. The others just tend to keep it on the down low. Take the step, babe. If for no other reason, you know if you stay that your friendship with Gibbs will be ruined forever if you don’t put some distance and time between the two of you.”
“I feel like I’m always losing people,” Tony moaned quietly and Aaron moved his chair closer so that he could more easily comfort the man.
“You’re not losing anyone who doesn’t want to be lost,” Aaron corrected. “Abby will certainly understand. If she isn’t a real vampire I’ll eat my new suit. She smells just like the one I knew in college. Gibbs will come around. I think he just needs a jolt to see how far off track that he’s gotten. That guy loves you like his own kid. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s a supernatural human as well. The only pure humans on your team that I’ve sensed are Palmer and McGee. Ducky I can’t place, which tells me he’s got incredible shields, and that alone makes him at least slightly supernatural human or enhanced human. You need this for you, love. I’ve tried to stay out of it, but… please.”
“I love you so fucking much,” Tony whispered getting up and practically crawling into Aaron’s lap. He’d realized the other man’s intentions just in time to get his chair pushed back to catch him.
“I just want to belong somewhere. I want to be able to at least have a few people that I can be me around. I am so tired of feeling alone and isolated. My own kind hates me, and I’ve never understood why. Senior once told me I couldn’t even get being a Shapeshifter right, and I’ve never been able to find one on my own that I could trust. I think it comes from my mom’s side, but they haven’t spoken to me since she died, and I’m scared shitless to go find them and get told I’m not good enough for them too.
“How could I not love you and treat you like you’re everything? No offense, but Haley was a fucking moron. You’re literally everything I’ve ever wanted in my whole life, and I can’t imagine ever knowing you won’t walk through our door again at some point. I want so much from my life, and it feels like the only way I’ll get any of it is with you. I love you. I need you. Please, don’t ever leave me.”
Aaron closed his eyes and as if channeling his other self, rested his chin on Tony’s shoulder breathing in his scent. He hated smelling the distress. It was so hard not to hunt Senior down and use some of the horrible things he’s learned from unsubs over the years on the man. There wasn’t a doubt in his mind that the universe had made them for each other. Maybe that’s why their lives before meeting had been so horrible.
His grandmother on his father’s side used to tell him that nothing good came easy, and the better the reward the harder the road leading up to it was. There had been times in his past that, like Tony, he didn’t think he’d ever get the good again. Then this gorgeous, broken, loving man walked into his life, and he understood what his Nanna was talking about.
Turning his head slightly he placed small kisses and nibbles on his lover’s neck until he heard the man sigh just before his body relaxed. He’d been thinking for a while that maybe it was time to think of life outside team, but had fought it. Now though…
“Let’s go away together,” Aaron said softly. When Tony pulled back to look at him, he allowed it even if it was reluctantly.
“You quit NCIS. I’ll take a sabbatical from the FBI. It’s allowed. I can do it at any point after notifying them of my mating and take as long as I need. The team will survive. Between Rossi and Derek, they’ll be in good hands. Let’s do it. Let’s go away and see the world. Let’s go see your Paddington relatives and see what happened there. For all that you know Senior is the reason you lost touch with them. You told me once that Clive used to at least check on you occasionally, and then sometime after he loaned you the money in college he stopped. Let’s go find out what happened. We can go see Scotland like you’ve been wanting to after Ducky’s stories. We can see all of Italy and explore your roots and honor your Uncle Vincenzo like you want.
“I’ve always wanted to go see my family in Germany, or my mother’s family in Monaco or go to Australia. Let’s just go. I know we both have the money to do it. Let’s just leave, and if the people in our worlds wants us in it then they’ll still be there when we get back. It’s time that we took care of ourselves for a while, and trusted everyone else to take care of each other while we do it.”
“I’d need to go to New York to see Jason before I leave so that he knows I’m gone,” Tony commented without agreeing, but from the response it was obvious he was at least considering it.
“Perfect!” Aaron exclaimed pressing a quick happy kiss to his mate’s lips. “I want to meet this friend of yours. Maybe we’ll stop and see a couple of my college friends, too. Hell, we can go see anyone we want. Let’s just go!”
It took a bit, but eventually, that enthusiastic smile he loved so much came back, and his mate began to look and smell happier and more confident. “Ok, I’ll need a few days to wrap shit up at NCIS and make sure Abby knows I’m coming back. Otherwise, we’re gonna end up on the Most Wanted List and hunted down by every major Intelligence Agency in the world.”
Aaron snorted amused but was too happy he’d gotten his way to bring up how incredibly manipulative and illegal that was. Not to mention he knew that the woman would really do it. For someone who was as old as Aaron suspected, she didn’t act even a tenth of her age. “Deal! It’ll take me a few days to get things worked out at the FBI and make sure Spencer knows I am coming back as well. Then when you come back you can decide what you’re going to do next.
“This is perfect. Thank you.”
Tony shrugged and leaned forward to give Aaron a tender kiss. “It’s the least I can do for the man who shaped my shift, my life and everything in it. I love you, Aaron Michael Hotchner, forever and more.”
“I love you back, Anthony Dominic DiNozzo,” Aaron said softly and couldn’t help but feel like they’d just turned some corner. He just knew from here on out the road of life was going to be much smoother because they’d be traveling it together.