Title: Swingin’ on the Vegas Strip
Fandoms: NCIS, CSI, Criminal Minds
Story Characters: Tony DiNozzo, Spencer Reid, Nick Stokes, Greg Sanders, Blair Sandburg, Jim Ellison, Various other Characters from Multiple Fandoms, Various OCs
Story Relationships: Nick Stokes/Tony DiNozzo/Spencer Reid, Leroy Jethro Gibbs/Aaron Hotchner/Spencer Reid, Various other background pairings
Story Warnings: Non-Canon Compliant, NCIS Post Director Sheppard’s Death, CSI Post Grissom’s Exit, Angst, CHARACTER DEATH IN THE PROLOGUE, Prologue CAN be skipped and not miss much, Angst, Bitchy!Catherine, Sentinel & Guides are Known and Common, Sentinel & Guide Discrimination, Additional Warnings May Be Added, Attempted Murder, Characters Used from multiple fandoms
Notes: The prologue of this story will contain character death! If you’ve read this here on WP or on Rough Trade then you know who dies. I’m not adding that character to the story header because IMO while he is a popular character, he isn’t a major character in the story. Once the story is posted you WILL be able to skip the prologue and not miss much. I have three stories that I think will end up around 100K that I plan to post this yr. This is the last of the three. All of the first 3 stories for EAD are 100K stories. They’re all also partly written. (I know this is already posted on this sit, but I’m trying to keep my EAD postings consistent. So, since this is going on AO3 its going on here again as well.)
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?
Chapter One: Dr. DiNozzo, Undetermined No More
Eight Weeks after his tough love talk with Fornell in the basement, Tony sat in his office in the Las Vegas Crime Lab as the new night shift supervisor. He had multiple job offers once he started putting his name out there. His dual doctorates in Criminal Forensics, and the new one in Criminal Justice that he’d just finished while serving aboard the USS Regan had opened doors that he’d never considered before. Once he’d given all the offers a fair consideration, Vegas ended up being the one that intrigued him the most. For most people the overnight position would be a deal breaker. However, Tony had always been the most productive in the middle of the night, and hoped that it would continue with his new shift. So far, things were working out well.
He liked the idea that the skills he’d honed at NCIS would be of good use, but it would also be a new challenge for him to conquer. He 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. Vegas was also where Tony believed that Dr. Spencer Reid was, and he was determined to help the young man in any way he could. If he could just find the man.
Tony had come in early. Some things hadn’t changed and most likely never would. He lived at his new job as much as he had his SFA position in DC at NCIS. Normally, he spend time reviewing active cases, and seeing if anything jumped out at him on ones that were getting stuck. Today though his lone bonded Sentinel and Guide duo 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 already had arranged to take two weeks off, and left the week before he’d arrived.
There were other Sentinels and Guides working in the lab on his shift and others, but there was only one bonded pair in the whole crime lab. Tony felt fortunate that the pair was 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 working on his Criminal Forensics doctorate. 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’d seemed despite his out of touch tendencies that he was someone who was fiercely protective of those that were close to him, and that feeling would be returned by those around him. He also knew that it was harder to give the new guy a chance when you liked the previous person in that position 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 by the older man.
The Undersheriff had made it clear that Tony could pick a new SIC if needed. He hadn’t wanted to deliver another blow to Catherine Willows so soon after she lost the spot she felt was hers though. Because of that, he’d told the Undersheriff that he was going to leave things as they were for the moment. Tony sympathized with her, but there were some issues raised that hurt her. There was one that both the Undersheriff and the Lab Supervisor Conrad Ecklie had felt important that he venomously disagreed with, there was another concern on their part which he wholeheartedly agreed with, and the rest of what they’d seen has issues he was completely indifferent about.
He absolutely hated the notion that a 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 in itself automatically put her at a disadvantage. She had experience. She was determined. She was damned good at her job, and had fought hard for her position. The problem was that, well… so was Tony. There was unfortunately no category she excelled at, which Tony didn’t meet or 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 wasn’t sure what to call it. 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. The problem was that he wasn’t quite convinced that Catherine was as able to separate her relationship with her father from her job when needed. Grissom hinted that 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. From what Grissom said the man skirted the line between legal and illegal too often for him to be comfortable with her allowing his thoughts and ideals to influence her investigations. Hell, even if he was a living saint he still shouldn’t have any sway in the outcome of a case. It just wasn’t good for her or the lab. Only the evidence should determine guilt or innocence.
Thus far, the only mandate he’d given her for her to remain as his second in command was that she needed to complete a shit load of Sentinel and Guide training. At the moment, 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 before he lost his patience with her completely and looked for a new Second in Command. The bigger problem seemed to be that her upset with him left the other two CSI’s upset with him, and defensive on her behalf. Especially one Guide Warrick Brown, the next highest ranking CSI after Catherine with Nick and Greg out, who was someone that Grissom had passionately defended to Tony during their talk.
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 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 spot on the team. While Tony wasn’t sure he could have fired him, he knew for a fact that he could have the man transferred to another shift, as Ecklie had already told him he could move anyone he wanted to off of his team. What disturbed him the most when reviewing Brown’s file was that he didn’t see any counselling requirement for the gambling addition 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. That list had been made up of Bonded Guides whom would not be as susceptible to his manipulation as a Sentinel as an Unbonded Guide or a mundane. There would be no BS’ing his way out of this, which might be what pissed the CSI off the most. He’d have to actually face what he’d done and why he’d done it.
Then there was the weird dynamic between the two CSI’s. 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, and most of the research he was aware of supported it. Relationships between a Sentinel or Guide and a Mundane only worked if the Sentinel or Guide was of a low level or in a Dormant state, which would signal they would never come online. All things considered though, there was nothing he could do about their personal relationship as long as it didn’t interfere in their jobs in a way he could prove. So far it hadn’t and he had to content himself with that. It didn’t mean though that he wouldn’t worry and keep an eye on the situation.
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 for. 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, fortunately, 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 and therefore had managed to evade the emotional pull he felt from her. He had admitted though that his resolve had been weakening, which had been part of his reasoning for leaving.
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 that served to protect her from her own longing for a Mate and a place to belong. 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 from what would have been an unhealthy relationship, but that wasn’t much of a consolation prize for the often abandoned Guide Sidle. Both Grissom and Tony hoped that distance would, in this case, not make the heart grow fonder.
Tony 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 someday he’d find out who the person was behind those walls she’d built. He was willing to wait as long as she needed, and to do whatever he had to in order to help her along the way as long as she kept doing things the right way.
Tony rested his elbows on the desktop to rub 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 for his next shift it returned. Tony was also pretty sure that it was building a little every day. He’d had headaches on occasion, but nothing like this. This was… he didn’t know what it 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 from their personnel files as Nick Stokes and Greg Sanders. His returning 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, as the other clenched 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 protective ear muffs. Only it was the sound of what felt like every fucking person in Vegas. The Sentinel friendly lights in the office still felt like they were burning into his skin. 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. 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. 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.
Hearing a whimper from across the room he peeked around the grizzley, and saw 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. Even with the assistance he was getting from the animals, it was all too much though. Shutting his eyes tightly again, Tony just clung exhausted to the cat and Gibbs’ plainer. Hopefully help would come before he lost his mind.
Instead it just got worse.
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. You’re pathetic. This is your idea of leadership? You’re a complete joke. Don’t think I’m keeping my mouth shut about this. That position should have been mine, and I’m gonna make sure I get it.”
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 and making his office into one wasn’t practical. When the door was shut though, it would give enough of a barrier between the Sentinel and the rest of the lab that he or she would 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 as all of 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 one who had been standing 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 Guide, his Guide something in him corrected, inside the office. Unfortunately, Catherine took that as a sign that it was free to go in.
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 was trying not to think too hard on why his Guide and Greg’s as well were in the room with the Doctor, but none of the others from the lab were in there.
“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 two weeks now that he isn’t wrong about those classes he mandated you to take. Had you done so, you’d know 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 S&G 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 and the strongest in the city of Vegas as a whole. 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… A unicorn had come to Vegas in the shape of their new Shift Manager.
EndNote: All stories are also posted on AO3. Should anything posted for EAD be completed, the EAD preview will be deleted without warning.