Title: Deny Thy Heart No Longer
Fandoms: NCIS and Stargate Atlantis
Characters: Tony DiNozzo, Patrick Sheppard, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, Jack O’Neill, and John Sheppard (mentioned)
Relationships: None Really. Pre-Tony/Ronon Dex hinted at the end.
Warnings: NCIS Post SWAK, Non-Canon Compliant, Discussion of Murder
Word Count: 2962
Author’s Notes: I did no canon research for this because the original idea was less than 1K. Kate didn’t die after SWAK. So, Ziva was never on the team. I’m pretending that SG-1, SG-A and NCIS line up in the timelines I want them to. Tony’s background has been changed to incorporate the Sheppard’s. This fic is for the April FA challenge, which has a 1K max per pic used. I stacked 3 pictures to get a 3K max.
Summary: Tony can’t get the image of the dead body at their latest scene out of his mind, and it’s left him shaken. At the encouragement of Gibbs, he goes after the offer of a lifetime and is reunited with the brother and the family that he’d allowed Senior to shame him away from.
Deny Thy Heart No Longer
As Gibbs finished giving out orders to finish wrapping up the crime scene before they headed back to the Navy Yard, Tony wandered away and entered the old church where they’d found the body. Gibbs was outside directing Kate and McGee making sure that they’d found everything around the old building that could be considered evidence, but Tony needed a breather before he was stuck in a car with them as they traveled back home.
As he stepped inside of the building, his eyes were automatically drawn to where they’d found the dark-haired Marine face down on the floor. With a shudder, Tony fought to keep his hand at his side. He was by no means a religious man and had never bought into the notion that there was some higher being directing his every movement. That didn’t mean though that he hadn’t been exposed to it. His mother had been quite religious before meeting Senior and had tried to instill some of her beliefs onto her young son. Tony sometimes wondered if maybe it was her violent death at the hands of the drunken monster that was his father that had the biggest hand in his religious cynicism. It was hard to believe in something that she’d put so much stock in but had in his eyes let her down so fucking spectacularly.
Regardless of that, when he stepped into the old building that had been desecrated as badly as it was imaginable when someone dumped a dead body into it. That was after the gorgeous structure had been left to (word) as nature overtook it. Still, that wasn’t nearly as bad or offensive as the body dumped onto its floor. Then there was the fact that the dead Marine looked so fucking much like his brother in all but blood. It was why he was struggling so badly with the scene. He was sure that Gibbs had figured it out because instead of being ordered to take pictures, as he normally would, he was allowed to do the sketching. It was a task normally given to Kate but would allow him to not have to focus on the body so closely.
Even now with the body gone, safely ensconced in Ducky’s van, it was hard not to see John lying face down on that floor. John Sheppard had been his brother in every way imaginable since almost the second they met at military school as teenagers. They’d both been angry and rebellious, and even for similar reasons. Both of them having lost mothers that they nearly worshipped had left a deep mark on each boy that hadn’t faded easily. Because of that, the bond that formed between them was as strong as any other they’d formed in the rest of their lives, and something that still stood strong between them. Thus, despite the fact that Tony knew for a fact that John was hidden at some top-secret base on the ass end of the earth, supposedly, his heart had stopped for a few moments when he laid eyes on the body that looked so much like his brother.
He was itching to dig out his cellphone and call David or Patrick, just to make sure that John was really ok. He didn’t want to worry them with his silly neurosis though and thought that he should be able to get the image out of his head. He wasn’t sure if maybe the mysterious offer he’d received from one General Jack O’Neill for an assignment that he hadn’t been able to offer much information on was weighing heavily on Tony’s mind.
The older man had been understanding in Tony’s hesitation to take something he couldn’t get information on without practically signing away his life. He was also understanding about Tony’s loyalty to his boss. Leroy Jethro Gibbs had thus far left a deep mark on both the Agent that Toy was as well as the man that he was trying to become. It felt like Gibbs had reached into the darkness that was Baltimore and dragged Tony into the sunshine again. Tony had been struggling with the self-imposed separation from the Sheppard’s, who were as close to family as Tony had since the death of his mother, and the stacking of one bone deep betrayal after another.
Tony was ashamed to say that a lot of the reason he’d so far said no was that he was terrified to say yes in places in his mind that the NCIS Agent didn’t like to acknowledge existed. HE had so fucking much to lose by saying yes and had no idea if he had anything at all to gain by giving the acceptance. The General had tried to leave some breadcrumbs, and Tony thought maybe he could see where they were headed, but the problem was that the only person he could verify it with had been physically out of touch for so long that Tony was beginning to wonder if he was really still alive. Sure, there were still letters, but that wasn’t the same as hearing John’s voice or seeing the smirk on his face.
Suddenly, Tony’s very soul ached for the safety of John and the rest of the Sheppard’s.
“Tony?” Gibbs called, and for once Tony’s startled jump was real, and not something fabricated to make the junior officers feel better. “This one really has you shook up.”
“You ever walk onto a scene, and swore that the dead body was someone that you lived more than maybe you loved yourself?” Tony asked in lieu of a direct answer and Gibbs studied him quietly for a couple long minutes before giving a quiet nod.
“This have anything to do with that job offer that you turned down?” Gibbs asked, and Tony wasn’t even a little surprised at his boss’s ability to see to the truth of what was going on. “As much as I think the team needs you, if it’s affecting you this much, maybe you should rethink it. Somethings are just meant to be.”
“I didn’t see you as a religious man, Boss,” Tony murmured quietly, and eventually gave in and crossed himself, still able to hear his mother’s whispered instructions in his mind.
“Doesn’t have anything to do with that, DiNozzo,” Gibbs grumbled softly as he stepped up to stand next to his Senior Field Agent, and Tony appreciated the feel of the man’s presence. “Sometimes it’s just fact. You’re the best young Agent I’ve ever worked with, and I think this team won’t be the same without you. However, even I can read between the lines, and see that there’s something really big to that offer that isn’t being said. Somethings are bigger than the team or the state or even the country.”
“You know something,” Tony said part accusation and part understanding. Gibbs for his part just shrugged.
“Nothing concrete. Just some rumors and speculation. I’ve tried to stay out of it, but from the pallor of your complexion and the way you’ve truly been distracted, and not that manufactured distraction you normally throw at Kate and McGee, I think you need to call up O’Neill and tell him you’ve changed your mind. He’s a good man. I’ve worked with him. I think he’s offering you the thing you need the most.”
Tony studied Gibbs until he heard Kate call out to both of them. Her unspoken questions were painfully easy to hear in her tone. Giving the bloodied ground where the body had lay one last look, Tony turned and after giving Gibbs a nod, headed back to the truck claiming the passenger’s seat and ordering Kate and McGee into the back as he passed them. For once, the duo didn’t argue, and Gibbs left him to his thoughts on the way back. If Tony attacked the rest of the case with a fervor and intensity that they’d rarely seen from him, no one commented.
His resignation was accepted by Morrow with a quiet understanding, and Tony was in his Mustang headed to the Sheppard mansion before the sun had set as soon as the case wrapped up.
Tony stopped at his apartment just long enough to pack at least a week’s worth of clothes and make sure that he knew where Patrick Sheppard was before heading off again. If his pseudo-father was surprised to hear from him, you couldn’t hear it in the man’s voice.
When he stepped into the family mansion, he took just long enough to take in the older man, to make sure that he was still healthy and happy before falling into a bone-crushing hug, and ignoring the wobble in his voice as he whispered his apologies to the older man for staying away so long. Quickly, he found himself whisked away to Patrick’s home office and it wasn’t until he was seated in front of the familiar wood desk with bourbon in his hands that he realized he’d begun to relax. Gibbs was right. This was the right move.
“You look distressed,” Patrick observed, and Tony didn’t even try and hide the truth from the man who was more a father to him that Senior ever had been.
“We had a tough case,” Tony informed with a shudder. He knew he wouldn’t be able to get the image of that dead body out of his mind or stop the nightmares that it really was John until he could see the man for himself. “When I first saw the body, it was face down, but I would have bet everything I owned and everything I care about that it was John. I was already distracted. I got a weird job offer that I can’t stop pondering, which was already annoying Gibbs. The second I saw that body though, I just couldn’t get the idea that it was him out of my head, even after I saw the face and knew it wasn’t. Do you know where he is, Patrick? I feel like this General was trying to lay breadcrumbs, but I’m too cynical these days to follow a trail into the forest just so a witch in a candy house can try and eat me.”
“I believe it was Hansel and Gretel that laid the bread crumb trail,” Patrick observed with a smile, but Tony just huffed his annoyance at his question being ignored. When the older man swerved and asked a totally unrelated question. Tony knew he shouldn’t be surprised though. He’d always thought the elder Sheppard would have made a lethal interrogator.
“Why have you been avoiding us, Anthony?”
Tony sighed and ran a hand over the back of his neck. Patrick was one of the very few people in the world that could call him Anthony and not have their head torn off. The other one was a mostly harmless but deceivingly sharp ME that Tony would miss like a limb now that he’d quit NCIS.
“I was ashamed,” He finally announced, and studied his hands, too afraid to look up and see the expression on Patrick’s face. “After what Senior did to you and SI. After the bullshit that he gave to the press and all the shit you guys were forced to reveal because of him, I don’t deserve any of you.”
“Someday I will remember to stop doubting my wives,” Patrick murmured with a heavy sigh that drew Tony’s attention. “It never worked with Melinda when she was alive, and it certainly has never worked with Caterina. At no time, has anyone in this family held you responsible for what that man did. I have considered you one of my sons since the day John brought you home, and you will continue to be one of my sons until the day I die. I am sorry that I didn’t listen to Cat’s wisdom and reach out to you.
“As for John, I do know where he is. In fact, Aiden is about to ship out to join him. I can’t give you much information, but if your interest is real, I know that the offer you were given was genuine and you still have time to accept. I don’t know that I will enjoy three of my sons being so far away, but at least I will have David and Spencer to torment with my over protectiveness.”
Tony snorted and felt a smile form on his face. “I’ve missed you, Patrick, and for what it’s worth, I’m sorry for the distance and for what that fucker did.”
“I know son, and that is the last we will speak of it,” Patrick ordered, and Tony accepted it with an ease that spoke of the lessons he’d learned under Gibbs’ tutelage.
Bright and early the very next morning, Tony found himself sitting in an office in the Pentagon waiting on this General O’Neill. Since the man was Air Force and not from the Navy or Marines, Tony wasn’t familiar with him beyond what Patrick had been able to share the night before.
Hearing the door shut, Tony saw a grey-haired man headed toward him with a younger dark-haired man following. Standing, Tony offered the General his hand and quickly made his apologies for the last-minute acceptance, which was waved off by the man with the stars on his shoulder. “We knew that it was a long shot. We were told that you were quite happy where you were, but you were the best candidate.” When a sealed envelope, the size that you’d send a letter in, was pushed across the table at him, Tony lifted an eyebrow in question but accepted it.
“I was advised that this would help settle your nerves, and I am to give you the sender’s apologies for it not being present the first time,” General O’Neill offered, and Tony pulled the envelope closer to him with a nod of acceptance at the apology. When he opened it up and pulled out a picture of a cactus that looked like it was flipping him off, Tony let loose a loud bark of laughter that almost sent him to tears with relief.
“He’s ok then?” Tony asked lifting his gaze from the picture to the General, who nodded with an understanding in his eyes that said he’d spoken to Patrick.
“Patrick called me and explained that you were a little sensitive to John’s welfare at the moment and why,” Jack offered with a gentle understanding that spoke to the concern he had for those under his command. “Generally, I’d have to have you sign this stack of NDAs first, but given the circumstances, I think it would be cruel to not soothe your worries as quickly as I can. I can tell you I talked to John myself this morning to confirm his health. He said he’s in tip-top shape and looking forward to seeing you. Aiden was there and is waiting out in the hall for you as well. John thought that seeing him might help you.”
Tony gave a quick nod and fought to pull himself together. The nightmares hadn’t subsided yet, but he knew that they would once he saw John and seeing Aiden Sheppard would definitely help. Aiden was the youngest of the four Sheppard brothers. The oldest two, John and David, were the sons of Patrick’s first wife, Melinda. The third son was the product of an affair Patrick had with a Professor Diana Reid, and the youngest, Aiden, was the only child of his union with Patrick’s second and current wife Caterina.
“Lay it on me, General O’Neill,” Tony requested as he took a deep steadying breath determined to do whatever he needed to get to John.
After the forms were signed, and a Doctor Daniel Jackson, the General’s husband, had explained Stargate Command, what their mission was, and just where John had been stationed at, Tony couldn’t accept the offer fast enough. The next couple of days were a rush of getting his house closed up, getting the things he needed to take with him gathered, and saying what few goodbyes he needed to. Aiden’s presence helped, and having the younger man sleeping in his guest room the previous night had helped soften the nightmares.
Tony still wasn’t sure that Abby would be kept from trying to find him, but it had been stressed to her what would happen if she did. So, it was no longer his problem. The SGC doctors had a field day with Tony’s lungs, but the good news was that they were confident that once he got to Atlantis that the scaring from the Plague and the old football injury to his knee could be fixed. Tony was looking forward to it but wasn’t depending on it.
All he really wanted was to see his brother so that he could know for sure the man was still alive and well.
Seeing the Stargate for the first time was a mind fuck and stepping through it for the first time was an experience that Tony knew would be hard to compete with. Seeing John on the other side though waiting patiently and most importantly alive was a moment in his life that Tony knew could never be measured.
If he maybe held onto John longer than was necessary, and if he maybe got more emotional than could be explained the absence caused by John’s posting, Tony didn’t care. His brother in every way that mattered was alive. Tony’s fears had been soothed, and he was starting an adventure that he had never been able to imagine possible. If the first time he met one Ronon Dex, Tony’s heart skipped a beat and his dick stiffened, well, as they say on the MasterCard commercials, that was just priceless.
End Notes: I first read the idea of John with extra siblings from Jilly and Keira. (I read Jilly’s fic first then read Keira’s who I believe wrote it first.) So, I credit them with the idea of extra Sheppard siblings. Aiden Sheppard is mine. (and the actor is probably based partially on who plays Keira’s OC Matthew Sheppard although I adore Jared Padalecki.) Spencer Reid as a Sheppard belongs to Rivermoon1970, and I love the idea too much to leave him out.
I write fanfiction for fun. It’s a hobby and a stress relief. I refuse to stress over my writing. What you see is what you get. Errors, plot holes, and all. Thank you for reading my story!