It was two weeks after New York City had been attacked by terrorists, and Tony was pacing his father’s study like a caged animal, fighting with himself about what he needed to do. The part of him that had dedicated itself to his country was screaming that he needed to get over himself and get back to active duty so he could help catch these bastards. The part of him that had become cynical and disillusioned by the Navy told him that there were other ways to help his country without going back to a negative situation.
The day before, his Uncle AJ called and said that someone would be coming to see him with an offer that he really thought Tony should accept. While he made sure Tony understood that he would support any decision he made, AJ didn’t believe that Tony would find a better situation than the one being offered. Thus, Tony was pacing his father’s study waiting on this mystery visitor whom he hoped would have the answers and solutions that he needed.
Hearing a knock on the door, Tony stopped his pacing, and turned to see his father standing in the doorway with an older man behind him. “Antony, NCIS Director Tom Morrow is here to see you. He said that the two of you have an appointment arranged by AJ.”
“I was expecting someone. I mentioned it at breakfast, didn’t I? Uncle AJ didn’t say who it was though. He thought I would be less likely to listen if I knew who they were and where they worked at.”
Patrick gave an encouraging smile and stepped to one side letting Morrow enter the room. “You did. I will leave you two to your meeting. Antony, if you need anything just holler. I will do my best not to listen. Your mother and I are going out to the garden just to be safe, but you might turn on the white noise machine.”
“Will do, dad,” Tony promised, and moved to sit down at his father’s desk turning on the white noise machine before standing again and moving to where his visitor was waiting.
“Director Morrow was it?” Tony asked holding out his hand for a handshake. “Now I know why Uncle AJ didn’t say who was visiting or where they worked at. Please, have a seat.” Tony waited until the NCIS Director chose a chair and then sat down in the seat nearest him waiting for the man to speak before commenting again.
“I am, Lt. Paddington, and I appreciate your seeing me. I know that you have good reason for leaving Naval Intelligence. You aren’t the first one that Burrows has chased off and I doubt that you will be the last. Frankly, he is, in my opinion, a relic from a time that is best left in the past, but he has friends who make sure he keeps his command. To be honest, I would be more upset if I wasn’t hoping that his fuck up will be my gain.”
“Why should I think that things will be any different at NCIS than they were at Naval Intelligence? Also, what are you going to do if I find my Sentinel? Burrows was pretty damned against it for some reason I can’t fathom. Usually the Navy insists on Partially Online Sentinels or Guides take every opportunity to find their mate, but he not only was against it, but he was so violently against it that it felt personal.”
“I am sure it was personal,” Morrow said frankly as he folded his hands and rested them on a knee. “He’s always been threatened by people that he thought would be more powerful than him but were beneath him in his command. I am sure he knows that some day one of those people are going to take his job. Eventually, he’ll piss off the wrong person and his friends will suddenly disappear. That is if it hasn’t happened already. There are many who are less than pleased that you left Naval Intelligence.”
“Well, they aren’t unhappy enough to do something about him. While I love my country, my father would kick my ass if I stayed any longer in a situation that was impacting me as negatively as the Navy was. I can’t have any more blood on my hands due to the people above me not wanting to listen to my warnings because they don’t have the brains to follow my intelligence trails.”
“So, come work for me,” Morrow offered leaning forward, resting his elbows on his knees. “There’s a session at FLETC starting in about 4 days. I pulled some strings and was able to get you into it. Once you’ve gone through FLETC you will come to NCIS and work with one of my Intelligence teams at NCIS to get used to the difference between working for the Navy and working for a Federal Agency.
“There will be an Agency formed to deal with terrorism amongst other things, and I am going to be a part of it somehow. I know it’s only been a couple of weeks, but there’s already been a mandate to get the best minds in Intelligence gathered for this new Agency. Frankly, Guide Lt. Paddington, that is you. Once I feel like you have the experience you need, I will move to this new agency and take you with me. There you can build your own team that will deal with our top issues and any special projects I need. We’ll do everything in our power to find your Sentinel. You have my word on that.”
Tony looked away from Morrow to stare at the logs in fireplace waiting to be lit as he tried to process what he was being told. Morrow though kept pressing and Tony forced himself to look back toward the man.
“Not only have you served your country, but you have two brothers in active duty, one retired, along with your father and many previous generations of Sheppard’s that have served. It’s my understanding that that tradition isn’t just limited to the Sheppard’s, but that your Paddington relatives have a history of serving England. So, I’m not going to lay some line on you about how your country needs you and you owe it to us to get off your ass and use your gifts. Frankly, I think you know that already or you wouldn’t look so agitated. I may be just a mundane, but even I can see how frustrated you are.”
Tony snorted as he looked at the man. “With all due respect, sir, you may be a mundane, but you’re probably one of the most Alpha sonsofbitches that I have ever met in my life. I am sure Sentinel Prime Ellison is thankful that you’re a mundane because you’d probably make even him stand up and salute every time you walked into a room. I should probably take more time to think about this, but my Uncle AJ already made sure I knew how he felt about this offer. If I can’t trust him, I don’t know who I can trust.
“So, I’ll accept your offer. Obviously, if I find my Sentinel any plans we make will depend on his wishes. If he’s not compatible with this new position, then I’m going to have to do what is best for my bond.”
Tom waved a hand in the air and stood holding out his hand for another handshake. “That goes without saying, Guide Lt. Paddington. I will have my secretary make the arrangements for your time at FLETC and forward them to you ASAP. For now, know that you’ll be expected to report first thing November 1st. Welcome to NCIS, Guide Lt. Paddington. I look forward to seeing that amazing mind of yours in action. I can find my way out.”
After the NCIS Director left the room, Tony sat down heavily in the chair, not surprised when Bagheera appeared in front of him. When the jaguar leapt to rest its front legs on Tony’s, he gave a sigh and pressed his face against the Spirit Guide’s neck. “I hope I know what the hell I’m doing Bagheera.”
The jaguar just gave a chuff of comfort, and Tony hoped that meant everything would be ok.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~
A little over two years later, Tony was stepping out of a Humvee at the base he had been sent to. Behind him he heard his partner Special Agent Erik Johansen thanking the Marine that picked them up and escorted them to base. Feeling a weight pressing against his leg, Tony looked down, and wasn’t surprised to see Bagheera there. Although, he was a little confused as to why his Spirit Guide was present. The jaguar had shown up in Director Morrow’s office when Tony and his team leader Special Agent Rose were going over the information they had to try and get permission for the trip.
While it wasn’t unheard of for his Spirit Guide to pop in now and then, he usually wasn’t as present and as visible as he had been over the last 24 hours unless Tony was highly emotional about something. Knowing he was going to see John because his team was stationed at the base he was visiting had Tony more excited than he would normally be while chasing a world wide wanted terrorist, he didn’t think that was enough to gain the Spirit Guide’s continued presence. It seemed that Bagheera knew something Tony didn’t, but for the life of him he couldn’t figure out what it was.
“Paddington!” Tony heard and stopped to look for the owner of the voice he was very familiar with, letting his happiness show on his face as his brother rushed his direction.
“Sonofabitch, I’ve missed you!” John shouted before pulling Tony into a bone crushing hug. “What’s Bags bein’ all protective about?” His brother asked lowering a hand once the hug was over to give the Spirit Guide a welcoming pet.
“He’s awful corporal. There somethin’ going on?”
“I dunno, John,” Tony admitted looking down at his Spirit Guide who was greeting John’s own Spirit Guide a Bald Eagle named Cash. “He’s been really attentive since we found out I was comin’ here with Special Agent Johansen. While I’d love to stay and chat, we should go see the base CO and let him know that we’re here. Think you can give us an escort? By the way, John, the Viking stand-in with me is Special Agent Erik Johansen. Erik, meet my big brother Master Gunnery Sergeant John Sheppard.”
“Sure can, little bro. Nice to finally meet you Special Agent Johansen and put a face to the name. Tone, you’re gonna be working with my team. So, I pulled rank to get to be the one to greet you. I can’t wait to introduce you to the guys finally. Luc’s excited to finally meet you.”
“I am excited to finally meet the infamous Lucian Kekoa. As much as you’ve talked about him, I feel like I know him already.” The two brothers turned the conversation toward the family as Tony caught John up on the latest goings on as they made their way through the base. Special Agent Johansen quietly trailing behind them. Tony really liked the tall blond who looked like he could have played Thor in some Avengers comic movie.
After introducing themselves to the Base CO and officially finding out that John’s 6-man team would be the ones to assist with the information Tony was trying to gather, the trio headed toward the tent Tony and Erik would be staying in. Tony’s team had tracked down information on a higher ranking terrorist that they had been chasing, and after reviewing the reports, Tony decided that he needed to talk to a local informant himself.
As they made their way across the base, Tony found his ability to pay attention to what his brother was telling him lessening, as his awareness of something else increasing. He’d noticed somewhere between leaving the plane that brought them to the base along with supplies and arriving at base that his Guide half had become aware of something heavy and intense. Somewhere close to that time, Bagheera had appeared again causing Tony to wonder what was going on. It felt like there was something happening, and he desperately wished that his bond to his Spirit Guide was stronger.
One common drawback with all Partially Online Guides was that not being fully online impacted the Spirit Guides ability to relay information with them. Fully Online Guides were able to receive an array of non-verbal information from their Spirit Guides that changed in complexity and depth depending on the strength of the Guide. Most of the Higher-Level Sentinels and Guides that Tony met in his life seemed to believe that he would be a fairly strong Guide once he was online.
What he wasn’t sure about was what he was supposed to do with it from there. The Sentinel and Guide community worldwide was in the middle of a massive expansion that seemed to not be ending. In the last twenty-five years the number of Sentinels and Guides in the United States alone had doubled. Tony knew that the scientists at Sheppard Industries that dealt with Sentinels and Guides believed that within the next twenty-five years the population specifically in the US, but most likely worldwide would near 50/50.
While Tony wanted to help people, he would never give up the position he had or the plans he and Director Morrow made for his career to take any kind of position within the Sentinel and Guide community. While having a leadership position doing Intelligence Analysis work was something that he imagined himself doing for years, he just didn’t want to be some kind of leader only for Sentinels and Guides. It held zero interest for him, and sometimes he wondered if it wasn’t a waste for someone to be given such strong Guide ability if he didn’t want to use it specifically for his own community. Jo always told him that it was one of those things he’d understand better when he was fully online, and because he respected and loved her, Tony took her word on it.
Tony wasn’t sure how long he’d been walking through base with John and Erik as his brother pointed out things, and honestly wasn’t sure why they were walking instead of riding. Vaguely he remembered John offering and him insisting they walk for some reason or another when Tony got the sensation that he was going the wrong direction. So, stopping where they were, Tony glanced around him to try and figure out where he needed to go.
“Tony? What’s going on?”
“We’re going the wrong way,” Tony answered John, aware of Erik stopping to watch them quietly. Special Agent Johansen was new to the team, and he was pretty sure that was why Rose had sent him with Tony knowing that despite being the newest member of the team, he would be the one most likely to say something if Tony got distracted by his brother’s presence. Although, maybe it was because of his newness and not despite it.
“Tony, we’re not going the wrong way. What are you…”
“He’s coming,” Tony said vaguely as he felt the presence of whatever that he’d been feeling coming his direction.
“Who’s coming? Tony, what are you talking about? You’re starting to worry me little brother. Wha… Lucian?”
Tony became less aware of John’s presence as a man who seemed like a giant came running their way. When the man came to a stop, Tony became aware of the fact that this new person was really only a couple of inches taller than Tony was, but for some reason he felt like a giant. He felt like the tallest, biggest, buffest, and most Alpha man that Tony had ever met in his life even though logically he was none of those things.
Tony had never considered himself a very submissive person. While he could be and could enjoy it, that type of thing wasn’t really what got him off. And yet, in that moment, he had to fight to stand upright in front of this man and not bare his neck or belly or get down on his knees or doing any other of a dozen things he could think of to do to show this man that Tony was his and he was Tony’s if the man would just accept him. Would just keep him. Would just claim him there and then so that no one could ever say that they weren’t one being split into two bodies.
He needed. He ached. He longed, and Tony wasn’t sure how much longer that he could bear to be separate from this person. Somewhere next to him, Tony was aware of Bagheera pacing restlessly as he watched the osprey that had come to land in the dirt in front of his jaguar. John had finally clued in and pulled Erik away from them, although Tony wasn’t paying attention to that as he desperately tried to figure out how to get this guy inside of him as quickly as possible. He was about ready to start begging when the man got almost impossibly closer burying his nose in the sweet spot between Tony’s ear and neck growling low and deep making Tony’s toes curl.
“Oh, ha.” That was all that Tony could think of for a response for an impossibly long time until one word pushed itself through his lips. “Yes.”
The next few days were a blur for Tony, spent in isolation on the base with his new Sentinel First Sergeant Lucian Kekoa. Tony had no idea how they got there, and barely remembered that bonding with his Sentinel was not why Tony had come to base. There had been a lot of sex broken up occasionally with the need to eat or sleep and showers often got interrupted by more sex lengthening the time spent in there.
Eventually though, things calmed down enough that the two could lay in bed wrapped around each other and hold an actual conversation about some important decisions that they would have to make very quickly. While Lucian knew all about Tony getting taken in by the Sheppards, he wanted to know things from Guide’s POV. So, Tony spent hours talking about his parents, how much he loved his mother, how much it meant that the Sheppards took him in and respected his feelings for his mom. He told him about the complexity of calling Patrick dad, but not being able to ever get over the guilt that he couldn’t bypass the disrespect he felt any time he contemplated calling Jordan mom. He told him about David and Aiden, and how much it cracked him up that the most Alpha Sentinel in the family was his little brother.
In return, Lucian told him about his parents, and his siblings, one older sister and one younger brother of his own. He told him about how much Hawaii and his culture meant to him, but also how he had come to terms a long time ago that his path in life was taking him a long way from his home and would keep him away from many more years to come. He told him how much he loved being a SEAL but had always known that he couldn’t be one forever.
Lucian admitted that when he realized how much he loved the intelligence gathering things his team did, he became aware that the thing he loved the most was trying to figure out how they think. Therefore, he’d altered the college courses he was taking to lean more toward psychology and profiling. Tony couldn’t resist pointing out how beautifully that would fit into his team.
Tony shared the plans that he’d made with Director Morrow for his career including taking over his current team within a year or less when Rose retired and then following Morrow to Homeland when he was finally ready to move. They discussed Tony joining the Marines, and while Tony was willing to do whatever his new Sentinel needed, in the end it was decided that Lucian following Tony to NCIS and then Homeland Security would be a better move than Tony going through the training to become a Marine and then make a Special Forces team when he’d never been on the front lines in his entire military career. That just wasn’t the path laid out for a Naval Intelligence Officer.
Rolling, Tony lay with his ear laying over Lucian’s heart wishing he could hear it beat. “What are you thinking,” his Sentinel asked, and Tony propped himself up on one elbow to look down into his green eyes.
“Thinking about how much I needed this and wondering how I didn’t understand that. I mean, I’ve wondered who my Sentinel would be since I was 6, but I don’t know how I didn’t understand just how desperate I was to find you.”
“One of the things I have learned in my classes is that sometimes children who come online as a child even partially as a Sentinel or a Guide often become desensitized to the longing sensation that adults and even teenagers feel when they come online. They think it’s a way nature protects them from wanting or longing for things that would be incredibly inappropriate for a child or putting them in danger of being taken advantage of by the creepy pedophiles and the like. For some reason as they age it just never kicks in, even once they advance to an age where it’s completely appropriate and safe.”
“Huh, that makes sense, I guess. I hope that John doesn’t kick my ass for stealing you. Although, maybe it’ll finally get him home so that I can introduce him to Rodney.”
Tony watched Lucian’s eyebrow lift and couldn’t help but grin at how stupidly sexy he thought it was. “Who is Rodney?”
Tony huffed and rolled over to stare up at the ceiling, and gave a happy laugh when Lucian rolled over so that he could look down on him. “Dr. Rodney McKay is the Lead Scientist at Sheppard Industries and works most often with the Aeronautics Department. He’s stupidly smart, snarky, sarcastic, and has a tongue sharp enough that it can not only make grown scientists cry, but also verbally tear non-scientist types to bits making them question all of their life choices.
“While SI hasn’t been able to perfect their testing to match up Sentinels and Guides just yet, when Rodney’s information was put into the computer system, John’s name was spit back out within like 5 minutes as a True Match. Knowing my brother as I do, I’d eat my brand-new SI Herculese Generation 2 tablet if he didn’t fall head over heels for the man. For some reason though John’s being a stubborn ass and won’t come home to meet the man.”
“There’s a lot of evil things going on in the world right now,” Lucian pointed out, and Tony was able to not roll his eyes only because he could feel it being a statement of fact instead of something he thought Tony hadn’t already figured out. “It would be impossible for me to step away from the Marines right now to be with you if we weren’t going to still be catching bad guys. If you were a scientist and I thought I was going to be stuck in a lab somewhere all day just watching you to important things, I’d probably have lost my mind.”
“I know, I do,” Tony insisted as Lucian leaned down and pressed a kiss to his forehead. “The thing is though we’re all working on ways for it to work. Hell, David has an entire Steno Book full of ideas for things that John can do at SI to help and another of ideas of things he could do not working for SI. Hell, I even talked to Morrow about John working for either NCIS or Homeland.”
“He could do that? Even if he was bonded to a Guide that wasn’t going in the field with him?” Lucian asked and Tony nodded fast as Lucian shifted to prop himself up on one elbow next to where Tony was laying.
“Yeah, he’d have two options. We could find him a Guide he was compatible enough to work with who was in a situation similar to John and Rodney’s, or we could get Rodney a consulting contract where he could go out into the field with John if needed or we could do both. Hire the Guide for the everyday situation and use Rodney under certain situation where only his bonded Guide would work.”
“And this Dr. McKay would agree to this?”
Tony rolled to press a kiss against his Sentinel’s lips as he ran a hand along his arm. “There is nothing in the world that Rodney McKay wants more than to find his Sentinel. There are a shitload of people willing to help John find a way if he’d just take his stubborn ass home and meet the man.”
“Well, maybe we should give him a nudge then,” Lucian murmured, and Tony gave a slight nod before stealing another kiss.
“Later,” Tony promised as he pushed Lucian over and rolled on top of him. “After we do this one more time.”
~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Tony stood in the doorway to Patrick Sheppard’s office looking at the man he thought of as his father. Dad, Pops, even Daddy had all been things he’d called the man since he’d been brought into the Sheppard beach house and wrapped in their love and security. Sometimes he hated the fact that his DNA said that Patrick wasn’t his birth father, but those times were dark days and lonely nights when something reminded him of the bastard that helped create him.
Then there were moments like the one he was in where Anthony Dante DiNozzo, Senior was nothing more than a fleeting thought in the dark recesses of his consciousness, and the only male parental figure on his mind was the one in front of him. This was the man that sat with him in the very early hours of many nights as he screamed and cried from his latest nightmare. He was the man who encouraged Tony in every interest and did his best to make it to as many recitals and games and whatever he could with his busy schedule. It was the man who never treated him any different than any of the sons that he’d helped create and bragged about Tony just as he did his other boys. Patrick Sheppard was the man who Tony had always believed saved him, and it was the man that he’d love and respect well beyond the days that they both died.
Standing next to Patrick’s chair looking over his shoulder was the woman who had made Tony feel equally grateful and guilty since Tony was aware enough to understand the difference in how he felt for Patrick versus how he felt for her. Jordan had always been Aunt. Unlike Patrick he’d never been able to shift her into the mom role. He’d even tried once as a teenager for two whole days. When he ended up anxious and shaking on his bedroom floor, she’d asked him why he was torturing himself for something that didn’t change how she felt about him.
Despite what he called her, Tony had always loved her. She gave the best cuddles, and as a child she’d been his favorite storyteller. She’d been the confidant he needed when he was afraid of disappointing Patrick too much to seek his advice. She was the one who explained girls, and then told him it was ok if he liked boys too. She had a way of making him laugh when no one else could. When he was a child and dreamed out loud about the Sentinel he found someday, she was the one that told him it didn’t matter who they were as long as they loved he or she loved him as much as she loved Patrick.
Together they had given him three brothers, one of them being the best friend that Tony ever had in his life. Tony wasn’t sure that he believed in concepts like soul mates. He’d served with a guy once who most firmly did, and one night deep into way too many hours being spent looking at documents and computer screens he’d learned that soulmate didn’t necessarily equal lovers.
“You know, Paddington, if you had a soulmate, I would be my life it’s this John of yours. I mean, sure you’re Sentinel will complete you and make you whole, but your brother John is the true other half of your soul.”
Rainbow Osborne was definitely a little odd, but he’d been a good dude who had truly just wanted to help people and serve his country. He had a mind like a steel trap and believed in a lot of supernatural and paranormal shit that made Tony question the man’s IQ. One thing that he didn’t question though that Rainbow believed every word he’d said, and sometimes, maybe more times than Tony didn’t want to admit even to himself, he believed him.
Feeling a hand settle on his shoulder, Tony looked back to see his new Sentinel smiling at him, and for not the first time Tony felt awe that they’d been able to find each other. Letting his hand slip into Lucian’s, Tony led him into Patrick’s office, giving his Father and Aunt a smile when they looked up at them. At Patrick’s urging, Tony and Lucian took seats in front of the desk, as Jordan perched on the arm of Patrick’s chair.
Looking around the room, Tony couldn’t help but remember all the times he’d been in this room, and the conversations they’d had. In the early years, he’d spent Saturdays seated at his own little desk that Patrick purchased just for him working on his own “project” because he’d been too scared to be away from him with John out of the house. There were decisions between sports and the arts. There was the college confession he’d been afraid to admit to, and the reason for leaving the Navy that he’d let out like a dark secret that he needed to get off his soul.
That night though Tony was there with his Sentinel at Patrick’s request after the subject of where he and Lucian would live came up at dinner. Unlike the others Tony hadn’t ever had his own place unless he was deployed. The Sheppard house was everything to him and while he knew he should have his own place, he hated the thought of being too far away from his family unless he was out trying to save the world, one terrorist at a time.
Fortunately, Tony found himself with a Sentinel who very much understood family, or ohana as he called it, and the need to keep them close. The scariest conversation Tony had with his new Sentinel had been telling him about how his mother died and what the Sheppards meant to him. He’d been worried about being mocked or misunderstood. Instead he’d found acceptance and understanding from a man who valued family as much as Tony did. It was more than Tony ever believed that he could hope for.
“As you know, son, our house sits on 120 acres. 40 from our original purchase, 40 from a couple of purchases around the time you came to live with us, and another 40 from Clyde McKlellean when they moved out. What you don’t know is that while you were overseas on your last assignment for NCIS, Guy Gallagher came over for dinner with his wife Phoebe to let us know that they’re moving to California to be with their oldest son and only daughter and of course all the grandbabies. He offered us first shot at his property and only asked that we not develop it any more than it already is. Of course, Jordan and I accepted, but that forced us to sit down and make a decision about what to do with so much property.
“David and Charlene have chosen to take 10 acres of our original property where the original house sat since it sits so close to our house. We are giving Aiden 10 acres of Guy’s property and his house because we know how fond he is of that property, having been friends with their youngest son. We would like to offer you and Lucian 10 acres of land to build yourselves a home. Now, of course you can choose wherever you’d like. If I can make a recommendation though…”
Tony hesitated from nodding immediately and looked toward Lucian only to see his new partner and Sentinel watching him in what seemed to be equal parts amusement and disbelief. Having grown up in the family sometimes he forgot how different his family was from the rest of the world. After getting a nod of approval and a comforting squeeze of his hand, Tony turned his attention back to his father and Aunt.
“Dad, please. You know I want to hear what you think. All I can say though is I would like to be close to wherever John is, or you think he will be.”
Patrick nodded smiling as Jordan wrapped an arm around his shoulders. “Jordan and I anticipated you and John wanting houses near each other. I also know how much you both like the water. So, we have two ten-acre plots that sit next to each other on the river. They’re close to the front of the property where this house and David’s will be. Aiden’s is the only one that will be more isolated from the rest of the family, but we agree that it’s what he will want. Of course, if that isn’t what you want you can choose something else…”
“No,” Tony offered hurriedly, and once more glanced at Lucian who gave him a reassuring nod. “That sounds wonderful. I can’t imagine having a house away from the family. I know most people think that it’s weird that a grown man doesn’t want to be out on his own. I just…” Tony sighed and huffed frustrated, but relaxed when he felt Lucian’s hand start to move over the small of his back.
“Tony, we understand and have always understood,” Jordan assured gently. “Anyone who doesn’t, honestly doesn’t matter to us. You are our child in every way that matters, and we have always understood and accepted your needs. They haven’t greatly impacted your life in a negative way. It isn’t like you didn’t spend large portions of your life hundreds and thousands of miles away from us being a highly productive and decorated member of Naval Intelligence Services. If now that you’re out, you need to come back and live near us, well, frankly your father and I couldn’t be happier to have you so close. We promise to do our best not to be annoying in-laws, Lucian.”
The big Sentinel gave a deep rumble of laughter and Tony felt himself relax further with the burst of amusement and acceptance that flowed over their bond. “Family is everything in my culture, Ma’am. My family all lives within minutes of each other back home. So, honestly, I like the idea and I know the thought of having to move away from you all was bothering Tony. So, whatever it takes to make him feel comfortable and safe is what I want.”
“Please, it’s Jordan or Auntie. That’s what Tony has always used. Patrick is just Patrick or dad or pops or something of the sort. You are now as much family as the rest of our sons and our daughter, David’s wife.”
“Thank you,” Lucian replied, and Tony found himself leaning against his mate. “I may slip and call you Ula and Makuakane. It is what we use at home.”
“We would be honored,” Patrick assured speaking up again. “You can call us whatever you wish. I know that Jordan has already ordered us several books on your culture, history, mythology and anything else she could think of so that we can learn and better understand your ways. We have always taught our boys to be accepting and open to other people’s ways of life and look forward to learning about yours.”
“Mahalo, Ula and Makuakane. I am always happy to answer any questions you may have. It means a great deal to me that you would go to such lengths to welcome me into your Ohana.”
Tony moved the hand that wasn’t holding Lucian’s to run lightly up and down his Sentinel’s arm. He could feel through their bond just how truly moved Lucian was about the whole thing.
“Thank you, Dad and Auntie,” Tony thanked and accepted a kiss from his Sentinel. “We will accept that plot as long as John agrees. I made arrangements this morning, for the two of us to go to Hawaii so that I can meet his family. I think we leave next Sunday. We’ll be there about two weeks and then come home and have a meeting with Morrow about where we go from here. Get our work options and make decisions.”
“Well, whatever you two decide you know that we will support you. Jordan and I look forward to meeting your family someday, Lucian, and we warmly welcome you into our family. Welcome to your second family, Son.”
“Mahalo,” Lucian murmured, and Tony quietly thought that his family was just about as close to perfect as it could get.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Six months later, Tony stood next to John watching as Rodney badgered their contractor and Lucian egged him on despite his insistence that he was there to make sure this one didn’t quit, too. They’d already had one contractor refuse to work with them any longer, but both Tony and John agreed that if the asshole couldn’t deal with Rodney then he didn’t deserve the job. The pair had decided to join their properties and build one house with two private wings and a large shared space in the middle for the kitchen and dining room on the main level, a large shared library/music room combination on the upper level, and a gym that took up the entire basement area of the shared space.
The private wing that would be Tony and Lucian’s would have not only their master suite and three extra bedrooms on the upper level, but also a private music room for Tony where he could write music and a small private library on the main level. The basement would hold a custom designed movie theater, a small dark room for Tony’s photography work, a workshop where Lucian could make surfboards, and a secure room where the pair could work on special projects for Director Morrow.
John and Rodney’s wing would match Tony and Lucian’s on the top floor, then also have a private library on the main floor along with a large sunroom whose back walls were made of glass and could be slid completely open. The basement would hold a private lab type area where John and Rodney could work on some private projects.
The rest of the family found it highly amusing that Tony adored Rodney almost as much as John did. It was just in that “almost like brothers” type of way instead of the “let me in your pants now” type of way John wanted him. Tony felt like he got Rodney and his insecurities. In some way Tony had been very similar for a lot of his childhood and sometimes it still could rear its ugly head when he wasn’t expecting it. Finding his Sentinel had helped though. Finding Lucian was helping a lot and it was sealing up a lot of gaps that had been left on Tony’s soul from what happened when he was 6.
“So, I know that I haven’t said it yet, but I need to thank you for kicking me in the ass about Rodney. You were right. I was being stubborn and would have lost something irreplaceable if I hadn’t come home. Rodney admitted the other day that he was just about to tell the Center that he’d take a lesser bond because he’d nearly given up on the idea that I might be his true match.”
Tony looked toward his brother and best friend and just flashed a lopsided smile before turning his eyes to focus on the river in the distance. “I figure I owed you at least that much, John. I mean, yeah, Patrick saved me, and I literally will never be able to repay him for that. Jordan has done more than anyone else to help me heal and piece my head back together after watching Senior… do what he did.”
Tony huffed aggravated and when he felt John’s hand on his back, he turned his eyes toward him, but it was seeing Lucian turn his way with a concerned expression that helped him settle down even further. “Look, John, it’s like this. What I just said may be true, but the one who really saved me is you. Not Patrick, not Jordan, not the conservator, but you. You were the one there that first night when I came home who wrapped yourself around me so I would know I was safe. You are the one who listened to every one of my nightmares those first couple of years, and you’re the one who’s been by my side every step since even when we weren’t physically together. I have a family because of you.
“That night when I was scared to death and everything was suddenly too much it was you that I wanted. There’s never been a doubt in my mind that you are the reason I connected to Dad and Jordan so strongly. I’ve always known and accepted that without you my life would have been vastly different. I mean, I’ve spent more than one night wondering what I would have been in a different world where he didn’t kill her, and I didn’t have you with me. The very least that I could do for you is make sure you end up with your perfect Guide. It doesn’t hurt that I genuinely like Rodney and want to see him happy too.”
Tony heard John huff and watched as now Rodney turned their way with a frown, only to turn back to the plans they were reviewing after it looked like Lucian said something to him, probably a reassurance that it was simply a long overdue private conversation between brothers.
“You know that it scares Dave to death how well you and Rodney get along, right? He’s sure the two of you are going to take over the world.”
Tony snorted at the thought and quirked an eyebrow at John. “What does he think we’re gonna do? Write a symphony to make the whole world our mind slaves? I mean, forget that the very idea is repulsive and gross, but neither one of us wants to deal with that many idiots. Can you imagine how many more people Rodney would have to berate on a daily basis if we ran the world? Please, too much work. Now, finding some very active volcano to toss Carrie in however is totally something we could concoct. Also, if she suddenly disappears, we totally didn’t have this conversation.”
John almost snorted the water he’d just taken a sip of out his nose and instead just stood there half gasping for air and half laughing as he tried to remain standing. Carrie was the latest in a long list of Guides that the center had tried to pawn off on their very Alpha little brother Aiden. In a house full of impressively strong Sentinels and Guides, the general consensus was that Aiden would outdo them all if he could only find a compatible Guide. Unfortunately, the people who were in charge of finding and predicting matches were horrible at it and the latest match had been just one of many bad suggestions.
Aiden was just newly out of the long SEAL training process and had no intention of giving all that up for some fluffy pink princess who was afraid to break a fingernail. The bad match though in itself wouldn’t have been anything more than amusement for Tony and new material to bitch about for Rodney if she hadn’t also tried to lay a guilt trip on him to make him feel like their incompatibility was his fault. If there was one thing none of the Sheppards, whether they were born to the family or brought into the family, would tolerate it was bullshit like that.
Because, while Aiden would probably out Alpha then all, he also had this soft squishy middle that housed a big heart and shit ton of sensitivity to the world around him. Even as a small boy Aiden had a temper that could scare even the adults, but then the next day you could find him crying in the yard because he found a bird with a broken wing. He really was almost a perfect creation of his parents’ strengths and weaknesses. Secretly, Tony was pretty sure if anyone was bound to take over the world it would be his little brother, if he could ever find a suitable Guide that is.
“I didn’t hear that,” John said with a laugh and Tony shot him an unimpressed glare.
“Oh, please, like you won’t be there helping us plot. Hell, even Lucian hates her, and he hasn’t even met Aiden yet! She made him cry, Jonathan!”
“My name isn’t Jonathan, and Moss totally ratted Aiden out didn’t he?” John aid with a smirk. “I wondered how you were getting information so fast.”
“If Moss should just so happen to know the advantages to staying on my good side, it just proves he’s an incredibly smart individual,” Tony shot back, referring to Moss Dougal, a friend that Aiden had made in training who Tony had taken a liking to the first time they’d met.
“Convinced Dad to adopt him yet?” John joked and Tony stuck his tongue out at him.
“Still working on it,” Tony shot back then laughed as he saw Lucian and Rodney making their way over to them. Moss’s whole family had been killed just after he joined the Navy. A situation that Tony was intimately familiar with, and between himself and Aiden the two of them were determined to make sure the other man knew he had a second family if he wanted it.
“I think this one’s gonna work out,” Lucian said when he finally stopped next to Tony wrapping an arm around his Guide’s shoulders. “He didn’t even raise his voice while Rodney was calling him stupid.”
“Rodney, please stop calling our contractor stupid,” John requested with a sigh looking down at his own Guide. “We’ve been over this. Not everyone can be as smart as you. If they were you would just be one of many instead of the North Star that you are now. I would like to keep this one, please. Tony really likes this design.”
Rodney pouted briefly until Tony caught his eye. “We know you’re nervous about this, but we’ve been over this plan a million times and you and Miko both dug into this guy’s background. We all agreed that he’s the best one for the job. Maybe just breathe and let him do what we’re paying him a shit ton of money for. Then if he messes up, we can totally ruin his life. We should be done with Carrie by then.”
“Oh! Miko had the best idea. So, as of tomorrow she should be kicked out of that little… useless rich girls club that she is so fond of. Wait till they all see what she’s been saying about all of them in text behind their backs.”
“I thought carriers didn’t keep copies of text messages, just dates and times,” Lucian asked with a frown and Rodney made a face.
“Oh, please. Look, we’re also having that pink Barbie mobile she drives around repossessed. No one makes Aiden cry. I’ve already ordered Aiden to be moved up to top priority for matching.”
Feeling Lucian press his face against his neck, Tony turned to give his Sentinel a fond smile as they both shook with laughter. Gone were the thoughts of dead mothers, and worthless fathers. Gone were nights of terror and loneliness. Now he had family, he had love, and he had friends. He even had respect and a job that he truly loved. Tony didn’t know how he lucked out to catch the eye of Fate for it to intervene in his life on his behalf, but he would always be thankful and aware of how lucky he was that it did. Life could have, and maybe should have gone much differently for him. Fortunately, he’d discovered what could happen when Fate stepped in.