Title: (If All Else Fails) Start With Being Jason’s
Fandoms: NCIS & SEAL Team
Series: Tony & His SEAL
Previous Story as Written: Hello, I Love You
Story# as Written: 3
Chronological Order: 1
Characters: Tony DiNozzo, Patrick Sheppard, David Sheppard, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, Jason Hayes, and OC-Aiden Sheppard
Relationship: Pre-Tony DiNozzo/Jason Hayes
Warnings & Tags: Post Ep SWAK, Non-Canon compliant NCIS & SEAL Team,
Word Count: 4,221
Author’s Note: I am not using any Stargate Atlantis canon. This is a prequel to the other two stories in this series. NCIS Canon deviates from here forward. This story is pre SEAL Team canon, but Tony’s presence has already shifted that canon also. Title makes this sound more Tony/Jason than it is. I tried to change it but this was stuck in my head. So, I went with it. This was written for my Fix-It square for Trope Bingo on Just Write. Thanks to Angel N Darkness for the beta!
Summary: Tony doesn’t know anything about being a son or a brother. Some days he’s not sure he knows how to be Tony. So, thus far he’s found the advise to just be himself not so helpful. The thing is though that being a son to someone who cares, and a brother to just about anyone is all he’s ever wanted.
(If All Else Fails) Start With Being Jason’s
Tony opened his eyes and rolled his head to see a man sitting next to his bed. His dark hair was greying, and Tony guessed the remaining color was being enhanced by a dye job. The hands holding up his head were slightly wrinkled and dotted with age spots. His elbows were resting on his knees and there was an air of despair and worry in the man’s posture.
“C’n I help you?” Tony croaked licking his dry lips and frowning at the slightly familiar face as the man’s head whipped up to look at him. It took him a few moments to figure out why, but once he did, he was confused as to why Patrick Sheppard was sitting at his bedside. Tony’s brain, sluggish from the medicine and illness raging through his body, wasn’t coming through with a reason why the billionaire industrialist would be at his bedside. “Wha’s wr’ng?”
“Son, you’re awake,” Patrick breathed like a prayer had been answered, and Tony’s memories clicked in stealing his breath for a moment causing a coughing fit harsh enough that nurses came running.
By the time he was settled back in bed, with the mask over his nose and mouth to help him breath, Tony’s mind had provided him with enough bits and pieces that he recalled the man standing next to his bed pleading with him not to die. Gibbs was on the other side ordering instead of pleading, but Patrick’s inquiry was no less deeply engraved into his brain.
“That was real?” Tony asked his throat sore, he guessed from coughing and his voice husky and weak.
“Yes,” Patrick said seated back in his chair, but this time with Tony’s hand cradled between both of the older man’s. “I regret that I didn’t know my brief liaison with your mother resulted in you. I promise I would not have left you with that man.”
“I see you’ve been talking to Gibbs,” Tony huffed with difficulty, as he let his eyes close for a moment before forcing them back open.
“I did a little research on my own,” Patrick admitted, and Tony offered a half shrug.
“It saves me from having to go over mundane details,” Tony said brushing off any concern. “It’s for sure? You’re my father? Not Senior? I’m not actually related to that asshole?”
“I am happy to say that you are not,” Patrick confirmed, and Tony tried to reply but yawned instead. He tried to force his eyes open, but this time they wouldn’t obey. Instead, he was pulled back down into dreamland leaving his newly found father with his thoughts once more.
The next time that Tony opened his eyes, there was another stranger sitting by his bedside. With his mind a little clearer this time, it didn’t take him as long to put a name to the face. After all, David Sheppard spent enough time in the society pages and financial section that he wasn’t an unfamiliar face any more than his father had been.
“How’d you draw the short straw?” Tony croaked, and was happy when a glass of water was quickly offered. Sucking on the straw, Tony drew enough water into his mouth that his dry mouth got a small bit of relief.
“You’re awake,” David observed before offering Tony the glass of water again. Waiting to comment further until his younger brother was done. “How do you feel? Let me call the nurse.” Tony hadn’t even been able to form a response before David pushed the call button then placed it next to Tony’s hand.
Tony was slightly disappointed not to see Nurse Emma, but nevertheless turned his weary charm on the new nurse. He was pleased to see a smile on his face once he was done, leaving him and David alone. It was only after the man left that it occurred to him that he’d just outed himself in front of his brand spanking new brother. Fortunately, the older man didn’t comment leaving the awkward discussion for later when Tony was clearer headed.
“Is there anyone you need us to call, Tony? Your boss Gibbs said there wasn’t, but we wanted to check and make sure.”
“No one that can get here,” Tony finally replied, his chest suddenly tight with the need to see his friend. Their relationship was complicated, to say the least. Tony had wants. He was quite sure that Jason had wants. Unfortunately, they were both in positions where they didn’t want to risk the other’s career just to give into said wants. It didn’t make the need any less, though.
“Are you sure? If you need to see someone, we can get him or her here. Just tell us who you need,” David urged leaning forward slightly. Tony felt oddly caught between longing and awe. Longing for his friend, and awe that there was this man sitting next to his bedside that shared his genes and actually gave a fuck about the important people in Tony’s life.
“He’s probably out of the country,” Tony finally uttered blinking his suddenly heavy eyelids. “Can’t remember if he was comin’ ‘r goin’. S’got enough to worry ‘bout. S’up for Master Chief. Got his han’s full with Bravo. Don’t wanna bother ‘im.”
“He’s your friend?” David questioned softly as Tony’s eyes drifted closed again, and he could only open them up to the thinnest of slits.
“Best,” Tony slurred trying to fight the sleep, a million questions running through his mind. “Bes’ ever in the history of frien’s. Don’ know what I’d do without him. It’s compl’cated.”
“Maybe then you should let him decide, little brother,” David suggested, his hand tightening around Tony’s for a brief second.
“Say it ‘gain,” Tony demanded as his eyelids finally closed, but before he could completely get pulled under by sleep’s lure, he felt lips press against his forehead.
“Sleep, Little Brother,” David urged quietly, and Tony felt a hand run through his spikey hair. “We’ll get your friend here. Don’t you worry.”
The next time Tony woke up, it was thanks to a harsh cough that brought up a wad of gunk. “Here, spit that out into this,” a familiar voice urged before a basin was thrust under his mouth. “If I’ve learned anything from Trent, it’s that you shouldn’t be swallowing that shit.”
After spitting out the wad of phlegm, Tony blinked at the man sitting on the site of his bed. Before he could speak though, the glass of water was presented to him again, and a stray thought ran through his head as he wondered if it was the same one as before or a new glass.
“You’re here,” Tony commented in wonder as he rested back against the pillows letting Jason lift the bed back as a nurse hurried in. Tony tried to give her his attention, but he was too fascinated by the sight of his friend and heart’s desire who had moved to sit on the couch in his room next to a much younger man. Tony assumed that he moved to let the nurse do her job.
It took him longer to place the younger man, and he chalked it up to the fact that his face wasn’t in the public eye as much as that of his father and oldest brother. Aiden Sheppard was the youngest of the Sheppard boys with more than a decade between him and the middle brother John. Tong vaguely recalled the young man being in the Navy, and he only knew that because he recalled Pacci working a case on the ship the youngest Sheppard was assigned to.
“You’re both here,” Tony pointed out after the nurse was done, and was glad to see Jason move back to sit on the edge of his bed.
“John’s here too,” Aiden said as he stood and shoved his hands into his pocket looking noticeably nervous. “He and Rodney should be here later on today.”
“I don’t remember a Rodney,” Tony murmured looking to Jason who looked amused. “Thought there were only three of you.”
“Oh, umm, Rodney’s not a Sheppard. Well, I mean, not officially. Not yet. Although he will be someday if dad has any say in it. Dr. Rodney McKay is John’s boyfriend. Partner. Person.”
Aiden huffed seeming to be frustrated at his nerves, and Tony felt the urge to soothe those nerves. Later, he would blame the drugs on the comment that came out of his mouth next. Apparently, the coming out of the closet conversation was going to happen much earlier than a non-medicated Tony would like.
“S’ok I get it. Jason’s my person, too. I mean, not officially, but he’s still my person.”
Tony saw Jason turn wide eyes in his direction, and it took his brain way too long to catch up to his mouth. When he did, he panicked, causing a coughing fit drawing a nurse back in on a run. Once he was calmed down again, his hand was clenched around Jason’s forearm as he mentally cursed himself out from one end of DC to the other.
“Jase, fuck. I didn’t… It’s not… I’d never risk… Fuck!”
Before Jason could respond though, it was Aiden who commented again looking not worried in the least. “I wouldn’t sweat it. The only one that heard are the three of us, and we Sheppards have big closets, dude. ‘Sides, family’s more important than the Navy. No one outside this room needs to know anything till y’all want them to.”
“For the record,” Jason finally said placing a hand over Tony’s. “You’re my person, too. Once you’re feeling better, maybe we can meet somewhere and have a chat that sounds like it’s long overdue.”
The door opened a second later, cutting off any response from Tony and he was pleased to see his father coming in. “Tony! You’re awake.”
Tony managed to stay awake longer this time, but eventually the sound of Jason’s voice lulled him back to sleep. His friend’s hand curled together with his and hidden by the blanket on the bed. As he fell asleep, he tried to remind himself to find out how in the hell his father knew who Tony had been talking about. Especially since he was fairly certain he never mentioned Jason’s name.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~
It was dark outside when the smell of coffee pulled Tony from his sleep. He’d been feeling better the last several days and had been managing to stay awake for longer periods of time. Jason and Aiden had gone back to their base the day before. David had gone back to DC at the beginning of the week to watch over Sheppard Industries. John and Rodney were still around somewhere, but Tony hoped that they along with his father had been convinced to sleep in real beds.
“Boss?” Tony called as he opened his eyes already knowing who was in the room. “S’everything ok?”
“Yup,” Gibbs replied setting his paper and coffee aside as he came closer to the bed. “Just told your father I’d stay so he could sleep in a real bed tonight.”
“That’s so weird,” Tony murmured as he reached out and took a sip from the water glass sitting on his tray.
“Being a Sheppard?” Gibbs guessed moving to stand by Tony’s bedside and the SFA shrugged.
“That too, I guess. Mostly having a father who would sleep in an uncomfortable chair by my bedside cause he’s worried. I doubt that Senior would have lost even a second of sleep over me nearly dying. Then on top of it I have three brothers and a John’s person.”
Gibbs snorted with amusement at the mention of John’s partner. Tony had gotten way too big of a kick out of Aiden’s label for the scientist and hadn’t been willing to drop it. As far as Tony was concerned Dr. Rodney McKay would forever be John’s person. “I like Rodney. I like ‘em all.”
“They’re all different than I expected,” Gibbs admitted before taking a sip of his coffee. “I like your buddy, too. He’s not too bad for a Frogman.”
“You just like him cause he’s a Class A Alpha,” Tony pointed out with a grin then turned serious as he thought about his new family.
“It’s a little scary, boss,” Tony admitted quietly. Normally he wasn’t one to admit to his feelings, but he needed some reassurance from someone that he trusted, and Gibbs was as good as it was going to get.
“I mean, Jason’s the only person I’ve ever known who’s stuck around and we’ve been as close as we are for as long as we’ve known each other. Now I have like a dad and brothers and a John’s person on top of Jason. It’s a little intimidating. I don’t know who to be.”
“Be you, DiNozzo,” Gibbs said, then made a face. “Are you gonna change your name? If so, I’m gonna have to work on that. Regardless of what we call you though, be Tony. You don’t need to put on some act with these people. You don’t have to fill some specific role. They seem to genuinely care about you. I hope that is the real, because if anyone deserves a loving family, Tony, it’s you.”
“I have big brothers, Gibbs,” Tony whispered shaking his head with disbelief. “I mean, yeah, I finally may have a father who gives a shit. I mean, hell, he has practically been living here, but I’ve never had brothers. I always wished I had one and now I have three. It’s… surreal.”
Gibbs smirked and patted Tony’s shoulder before sitting down. “I know what you mean. Always wanted one myself. Used to wonder how different things would have been after mom died if I’d had a big brother to lean on. Just don’t start off pretending to be one of your alter egos, Tony.
“They don’t need the jock frat boy class clown. They don’t need the ‘nothing can touch me ‘cause I have no cares’ detective I met in Baltimore. They just need you. So, just be you. If you don’t know who that is, let them help you find out.”
“It sounds so simple when you say it like that,” Tony complained, and Gibbs just snorted giving his favorite agent a side eye before going back to his paper and the comfortable chair that had mysteriously appeared one day. Tony guessed it was to accommodate his billionaire father.
“Doesn’t have to be hard just because it feels like it is, Di… Tony.”
Tony just huffed and rolled his head back to look up at the ceiling. “I’ll figure out the name thing, soon. I’m happy to dump Senior from my life and changing my name is the easiest way to do that. Just need to settle on what I’m gonna change it to. Be myself. OK, boss. Whatever you say.”
Tony offered a wave of his hand before closing his eyes to ruminate on the advice. Being himself probably should be a lot easier than it felt. But then, maybe he would know how to do that if he had any idea who he really was. Beyond Jason’s that was. Taking a deep breath to help himself ease back into sleep, he didn’t even try to hide the soft smile on his face. He may not know how to be Tony, but somehow if all else failed maybe being Jason’s was a good place to start.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Tony paused in the doorway of his father’s at home office watching the older man work. He’d been slowly exploring the way too big family estate as a way to get his stamina back as he recovered. The fact that he was taking his time was an oddity in itself. Tony was pretty sure that if Patrick hadn’t been in his life that he would have just rushed back to work.
As it was he almost had. God only knew finding out that Kate and Tim could have gotten blown up made him want to rush back. His father though had pointed out that there was no way he was in any shape to go back to work. It was Gibbs’ assurance though that Mitchell Cutler, the former Marine acting as the temporary SFA was doing a sufficient job. Apparently, he had been the one to save the day. The Marine had an EOD specialist on his team, and therefore had been leery about anyone getting near the abandoned vehicle before he’d checked it for explosives.
Tony had been forced to admit that checking the car for explosives ahead of time most likely would not have occurred to him. Then when just days later, Kate ended up dead with a sniper bullet through her forehead, courtesy of Ari Fucking Haswari, Tony stopped fighting his father’s pleas that he let himself fully heal before rushing back to work. The heaviness of his heart made the decision easier to make.
The day before had been Kate’s funeral, and both Patrick and David had accompanied Tony. The day had been beyond draining both mentally and physically. The conversation he’d made sure to have with Mitchell Cutler had been hard, but necessary. There was no way he was letting the temporary SFA take on the guilt of Kate’s death. Hearing that there had been some attraction between the two that would be forever unresolved made Tony even more sad.
During the time that Tony spent with Kate in the blue chamber of horror, Tony thought maybe the two of them had crossed some invisible bridge that would allow them to become more friends and less friendly-ish adversaries. Unfortunately, he’d only seen her a handful of times before her death, and he’d never know if they could have been actual friends someday. One of their conversations though had been about family, and she’d been able to give Tony advice that no one else had.
“You don’t have to lurk in the door, son. You can come in. I’m just going over paperwork.”
Tony blinked and realized that he’d spaced out. Therefore, not noticing that Patrick had caught onto his presence. Pushing himself off of the doorjamb he’d been leaning against, Tony headed inside and settled in front of his father’s desk. When he was released from the hospital, Tony’d thought that he’d just go back to his apartment. However, neither Patrick nor David would hear of the idea. Eventually, Patrick decided to take a partial leave of absence from SI leaving the things he couldn’t do at home in David’s capable hands.
Tony had to admit that recovering in the Sheppard family estate was much more comfortable and easier than his apartment. For one, the mansion had a working elevator. So, Tony didn’t have to climb stairs when he wasn’t up to it. For another, it was nice to not only have company when he wanted it, but it gave him time to get to know both his only surviving parent and one of the big brothers he’d always longed for.
“I hope I’m not disturbing you. I know how fast paperwork can multiply if you don’t keep on top of it. I’ve been meaning to talk to you though since the last time Kate visited.”
Tony looked down at his hands that he had clenched together tightly in his lap. “Today seems like an appropriate day given what we did yesterday.”
“Whatever you need son,” Patrick assured as he set aside the pen he’d been writing with and appeared to settle more comfortably in his chair.
“The thing is… I don’t know how to do this,” Tony started and forced himself to look back up to meet his father’s eyes.
“I asked Gibbs, and he said just be me. I asked Kate and she said family, real family accepts you for who you are. Which, basically takes me back to the whole just be Tony thing and I don’t… I mean it isn’t like I intentionally try to be someone else, it’s just I guess it’s what I’m used to.
“Senior hated who I was. The guys at boarding school didn’t like who I was. By the time I got to college I had gotten used to playing roles. Since I did mostly undercover work in the PDs it pretty much reinforced it. I’m not trying to sound like I’m singing some oh woe is me story just…”
Tony huffed and rolled his head cracking his neck before looking at his father again. “The longest and best relationship that I’ve had in my entire life is with Jason Hayes. Some days I can’t figure out how he and I have managed to be friends for so long, except that he and I aren’t just friends not really. We’d probably be more than friends by now if we both weren’t scared that we’d get the other killed or in Jason’s case court marshalled.”
Patrick’s lips twitched upward slightly as he tilted his head to one side. “Are you saying that you are Jason’s person?”
Tony nodded with chagrin. “I’ve accidentally already outed us to both David and Aiden. My guess is John won’t care given Rodney’s title as John’s Person. Seems only fair you know.”
Tony took a deep breath to settle his nerves. “Jason said we should trust you to keep our secret. So, I am. The point of this wasn’t to come out of what Aiden described as the very big closets that you all have. It was to… Well to say that I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. I mean, I guess I know how to be me around Jason, but we’ve known each other for close to a decade now. I just know I want this.
“I want a father who gives a fuck that I’m sick and potentially dying and is willing to sit up all hours of the night in an uncomfortable hospital chair because he’s worried. I want the two of us to have a relationship so close that people think I’m odd. I want David to be one of the best friends I’ve ever had in my life. I want brothers who tease me and mess with my hair and give really good advice because they’ve been there done that. I wanna hear stories of the people who shared my blood and my DNA. I wanna know my history and be able to be proud of it because they come from respectful people and not a conman or assholes who abandoned me to a con-man. I want…”
Tony takes a deep breath before continuing. “I want to be able to tell the people closest to me that I am madly in love with my SEAL and not have to worry that I’m gonna get him in trouble because this world is made up of a bunch of homophobes. I wanna hold his hand someday as we stand in front of all the people we love in your huge assed yard and promise forever and know I have a family I can respect to bring him into. I want this, Patrick. I want this more than I’ve ever wanted anything in my life, and I have no clue how to do it. I just know I need you and the brothers you’ve given me. I need not a father, but a dad. I need to know you’re everything Senior isn’t, and I know it’s crap to put that on you I just…”
“No,” Patrick interrupted quietly but no less intensely. “It isn’t crap. It is exactly what you deserve, and what you’re going to get. I would love to be your dad. We will be that family you want and need, Anthony. We will keep your secret about Jason, and we will treasure your relationship the same as we do David’s marriage to his wife Charlie and John’s commitment to Rodney. Someday I will see you holding your SEAL’s hand in my big assed yard, because there is nothing I’d love to see more.
“You are my son. You are my flesh and my blood, and I offer you any relationship you want to have with me. You say you don’t know how to do this as if you have some specific part you need to play. I just want you to be comfortable. Be whomever you feel like being. If you don’t know who to be beyond Jason’s Person, then be him and we’ll find out who you are beyond that together.”
“OK,” Tony conceded softly and gave a nod as he looked back down to his hands as he thought about his best friend and hopefully eventually, someday his forever. “I can do that. I can’ be Jason’s. Doesn’t seem that much more complicated than what he and I already are, and I think I like the idea of you and I figuring out who I am together. Thanks, Dad.”
“I look forward to the day you don’t feel like you need to thank me for being a good parent to you,” Patrick said seriously after looking to have taken a deep calming breath. “I think I look forward to that day more than anything else.”
Tony couldn’t help but agree.
Credit for Tony being a Sheppard goes to Jilly James, whom I saw write it first. My backstory for that though is different from hers.
I write fanfiction for fun. It’s a hobby and a stress relief. I refuse to angst over my writing. What you see is what you get. Errors, plot holes, and all. Thank you for reading my story!