Chapter Eight: Settling In
That night when Tony got to the stupidly big beach mansion that the family was living in, Tony was happy to see his father’s BMW there. Bounding excited up the stairs, Tony found his father in the kitchen standing at the stove. “Papà!”
“Antony,” Patrick replied turning and stepping away to give Tony a hug. “It’s nice to see you, Son. Where is Seeley and young Parker?”
“Seeley picked him up from school and they were gonna explore the town. I’d guess they should be here soon, though. Parker was excited to see you again. He wanted to show you that science project that he got second place on.”
“I look forward to seeing it. How are you? How was your first day on base?”
“Interesting,” Tony quipped moving to the fridge where he pulled out a jug of tea, filling a glass of ice before putting it back. “I definitely should have listened to you about the surprise thing though. Things were hairy for a sec when Seeley stepped into his office.”
“Oh, imagine. Your father knowing what he’s talking about.” Patrick said lifting an eyebrow before turning back to what looks like the Beef Stroganoff he was cooking.
“Yeah, yeah,” Tony waved away moving to lean near his father facing them so they could talk. “It worked out in the end. Harrington was happy that I stood up to him and made it clear they won’t be pulling BS on Seeley just because some people don’t like Jason. I uhh, I also met Master Chief Jason Hayes.”
Patrick turned his head from where he was stirring the food in the pan obviously expecting more.
“He’s, Jesus Papà, they’re nearly identical. Hayes is a little stockier because I am assuming, he spends more time in the gym building muscle. I think Seeley is just a hair taller, but I mean… Hayes is…”
“That impressive, huh?” Patrick asked his lips curled into a slight smile as Tony huffed out a puff of air.
“He definitely has a presence. He practically oozes Alpha Male. I mean, for looking so much like Seeley he’s… So much not Seeley. We ended up eating with him and his team by coincidence. We were gonna just get something and run, but the team was there and invited us to eat with them. Or Jason did. I think the others were still a little dumbfounded by the fact that Jason has an identical twin cousin.”
“Did you get to see your brother?”
“Yes, and he will not be ever reorganizing my movie listing again.” Tony threw out with a grin.
“I sense mischief, Antony,” Patrick tried reprimanding, but the smirk on his face and the twinkle in his eyes contradicted his comment.
“Nothing he doesn’t deserve,” Tony protested holding his hands up as if surrendering. “I just called him Li’l Alpha in front of his Team Leader.”
Patrick just laughed and shook his head. Tony heard a door slam, and looked toward the staircase, assuming that someone came home. Expecting either Seeley and Parker or Aiden, Tony was a little surprised to see Parker come running into the room with both Aiden and Seeley following.
“Grampa Patrick!” Parker shouted excitedly and immediately, Patrick stepped away from the stove leaving Tony to take over. When Aiden came to stand next to Tony giving him a mock glare, the older of the two just grinned.
“Actions have consequences, Aiden. Get the egg noodles from the pantry, huh? I think we’ll need two bags.”
“You’re a bitch, but I still love you,” Aiden said quietly enough Parker wouldn’t overhear then headed off as Seeley came over already rolling up his sleeves.
“Can I help?”
Tony nodded and thrust his chin in the direction of the refrigerator. “Check in there and see if Papà made a salad yet? If not get stuff out? Also, could you see if there’s some garlic bread or rolls in the freezer? I like some bread with mine.”
Nodding Seeley headed over and ended up unloading a loaf of garlic bread and some rolls before pulling out vegetables and setting everything on the island. Tony checked the pot of water that Patrick must have turned on earlier and was happy to see a nice rolling boil. Staying at the stove, Tony listened to Patrick and Parker join Seeley at the island. After Parker and Seeley washed their hands the trio began working on the salad. When Aiden came back from the pantry, Tony had him dump the noodles into the waiting water. The brothers then stood and chatted quietly catching up on the goings-on in each other’s lives.
Tony found out that Aiden had recently been seeing someone from town, and from the almost shy way he talked about her, Tony could tell his little brother really liked her. Apparently, Aneesa Giles was a Speech Therapist who had her own practice but also had a contract with the local school system where she assisted with some of their more challenging cases. Knowing his little brother’s type Tony guessed that she was petite, probably under five foot five inches.
“I’m not sure I’m ready to have her meet everyone yet,” Aiden murmured chewing on his thumbnail and Tony moved away briefly to get bowls for the food before coming back.
“Does she know who you are?” Tony asked carefully. Being a Sheppard he knew that it was hard to find someone who wanted his little brother for himself and not because his family had a shit ton of money.
“Yeah,” Aiden said grinning big.
“Told me that my daddy’s money didn’t impress her, and she didn’t need some Richie rich playboy in her life. I told her I couldn’t help my family had money, and while I spent a lot of time in the sand it was usually in the middle of the desert not on the beach. I told her that currently, I wasn’t doing anything that would earn myself a shit ton of money, but serving my country was what I’d wanted to do my whole life. So, if she could live with my daddy’s money, I’d like to take her out.”
Tony chuckled quietly and grinned proudly over at his baby brother. “I take it she didn’t turn you down.”
“Apparently, her dad used to be the medic for Echo Team and still works on base. He showed up one-day last week and told me if I made his daughter cry, he had people who would help him make me disappear.”
Tony whistled as he turned off the burners watching Aiden drain the pasta water before putting it back on the cooling burner. He then watched his little brother pull out the butter and parmesan cheese to doctor it up the way he liked it.
“How’d that go over.”
“We were in the mess hall. Metal said that if I made her cry that they’d help him kick my ass, but they knew me to be a good dude. He then said that if she was just playing with me that they’d have words.
“I told Dr. Giles that I wasn’t playing, and I’d never thought my father’s money made me anything. I explained how many generations had served the Armed Services, and that my Uncle AJ had been a SEAL before becoming JAG. Then I told him that while every couple fought and hurt each other, I’ve never been the type to hurt intentionally, and my father would tan my ass if I did it.”
Tony patted his brother’s shoulder grabbing one bowl and letting Aiden carry the other as Seeley got the rolls and garlic bread out of the oven. “What’d he say to that?”
“Dr. Giles said dying counted as breaking her heart, and that he looked forward to getting to know me.”
“I’m happy for you Aiden. I can’t wait to meet her whenever you’re ready.”
“Thanks,” Aiden smiled, and the brothers sat, changing the subject as they got to the table and listened to Parker tell everyone about his new school. Gibbs came in from wherever he’d been, and Tony spent a quiet moment looking around the table, marveling at being with his family once more.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Tony had just walked into his office and was turning things on when a solemn-looking Matt Simmons came in. Matt was the Supervisory Senior Agent and would be working with Tony on the RU cases along with their rookie Ellie Bishop until Tony was confident, she was suitable to switch between the RU cases and their Special Operations from the Director’s Office.
Tony and Seeley had considered assigning people to each task, but after talking with Matt and the rest of the team, they decided to just assign people on a case-by-case basis, other than Ellie. The team consisted of 8 people including himself and Seeley. None other than himself and Seeley had been read into the SGC stuff yet as everyone was still being vetted. They all knew that there was a special operation that the office would be helping out with, but that was it.
In addition to the immediate team being vetted, Tony had insisted that their extended team positions be included. There had been some issues with Raven due to her past, and Greg because of his claims of being a medium. Not only had Tony and Seeley both argued on Raven’s behalf, but she’d received glowing recommendations from her former leads within the FBI that was easing the way.
The issue with Greg was absurd in Tony’s opinion, and he pointed out it was a little hypocritical of sneering at someone because they said they were a Physical Medium for a project that dealt with aliens. After the two-hour meeting, Tony went home feeling like he’d talked them around on both his people and had a beer to soothe his nerves.
Mae Jarvis had fortunately been a no-brainer. The young woman had a spotless past and reputation and had easily been vetted. In fact, she and Matt Simmons had been the first two through the vetting process. Tony was hoping that it wouldn’t take long, because it made him itchy not having anyone other than himself and Booth if something happened in the SGC.
“What’s up?” Tony asked, and arched an eyebrow when Seeley entered, and Matt closed the door. Looking from one man to the other, Seeley just shrugged and both of them looked to Simmons.
“Bravo Team lost a member last night on their mission,” Matt said quietly. The emotional weight of his words could almost be seen. For a moment, Tony’s world narrowed, and he forgot how to breathe.
“Who?” Seeley choked out, and Tony leaned forward, feeling like it was taking forever for the SSA to answer.
“Bravo Four, Nate Massey,” Matt finally offered, and Tony let his head fall to the desk as Seely turned and looked at the wall.
“In the future, Simmons, I would suggest that you lead with the identity of who the deceased is when it comes to Bravo or Alpha teams, ok?” Tony advised once he sat up and saw the moment his Team Leader remembered both of his bosses had connections to SEAL Teams on base.
“Shit! I am so sorry. I can’t believe I forgot that. Damnit. Sorry, no as far as I know Hayes is ok. I mean, as ok as a Team Leader can be when one of his men dies.”
“Do we know how it happened?” Tony asked buying his friend and brother time knowing that if his heart was still racing then Seeley’s had to be.
“No. We probably won’t hear the details till they get back. I only know ‘cause Mae gets notified when any of the men on base dies. We’ve set up a system where she immediately emails me. I think you two are copied on it, but I wanted to tell you before you got into your PCs. I knew there was a reason why I just couldn’t remember it. I am sorry.”
Tony waved a hand in the air watching Seeley, who finally looked like he was starting to breathe normally again. “We’ve been here like 3 days. There’s been a lot of changes. It’s gonna happen. Thank you for letting us know in person not by email though. I know we both appreciate it.”
Simmons nodded, hearing the dismissal, and turning, left the office closing the door again behind him as he left. Tony watched Seeley drop wearily into a chair on the opposite side of his desk. “Jesus, I think I lost 10 years there. If something happened to Jason now that we’re finally back in each other’s daily orbits, I don’t know what I would do.”
“I understand, I mean I’ve only known the man like 3 days and my heart stopped. If it was Alpha Team, I don’t think I would have been able to be as calm as you were. Speaking of Jason, did you get to his apartment to see whatever was up?”
Seeley nodded frowning as he tossed the paper coffee cup, he’d brought in with him into the trash. “Broken water pipe under the sink in the bathroom. It’s a mess. I don’t think anything of his is ruined, but the landlord is being an asshole trying to make it like it’s Jason’s fault. From some of the bullshit he was spouting, I’d guess he’s one of those anti-military assholes. When he dropped the baby killer bullshit, I told him Jason was neither old enough to have been in Vietnam or in the army. Nonetheless, I think we need to move him out of there, ASAP. I don’t trust that guy.
“I know Jason gets home soon, probably today, but…”
Tony waved a hand frowning. “No, by all means, I agree. Do we even have any proof the broken pipe wasn’t helped along? Do what you think is best. In fact, there is plenty of room at Casa De Beach Mansion. I know the mere 97 million bedrooms isn’t a lot but I think we can squeeze him in.”
Tony smirked then grew serious thinking about the asshole landlord. “In fact, take the rest of the day off. I’ll cover things. If needed, drop Papà’s name. In fact, if you really wanna make the guy piss his pants, take him along. Let him deal with the shithead while you get Jason out of there.
“Give Jason one of the bedroom suites with an ocean view in my wing. I am sure there’s one left on the third floor. I know it’s huge, but it’ll make him feel like he has his own space that he doesn’t need to leave unless he has to. The last thing I want is for Jason to come home and that dirtbag has messed with more of his stuff.”
“You’re amazing, Tony,” Seeley breathed out looking relieved. “This is above and beyond.”
Tony waved a hand in the air making a face. “It’s the least of what we can do. Jason is gonna have a hard time, and maybe this is the best. Sometimes things happen for a reason.”
Seeley just gave Tony a too observant look before heading off saying he’d tell Simmons he was leaving. Taking a deep breath to brush off the heaviness the news had cast over the morning, Tony turned his attention to the open files that he’d been reviewing, and the priority list he was creating from it.
Two days later, Tony walked in, took off his suit coat and tie laying the first over a chair in the kitchen and rolling the second up, tucking it in a pocket, before heading to the fridge for a beer. One-handed he opened the first three buttons on his dress shirt as he poked through the freezer with the other. His mind half on the Moesha Anderson case and the other half on the asshole landlord who owned the apartment Jason had been renting.
Seeley had not initially taken Patrick, but after having to deal with the asshole who didn’t believe he wasn’t Jason, he called in reinforcements and started packing up what little his cousin had in the place. While Patrick’s first thought had not been to move Jason out, not more than 10 minutes into the conversation, he’d changed his mind.
The man pissed him off so badly, that by the time Patrick got done with him, the jerk was not only refunding the deposit, but the rent Jason had paid that month. Tony knew without a doubt that there had already been a call made to the local housing commission to have Karson Kent and all of his properties thoroughly investigated.
Pissing off Patrick Sheppard was never a good thing, but Tony knew that pissing off his Papà by mistreating any member of the military was taking your life into your own hands. Patrick was ruthless in business in general, but he was especially so when it came to military members not being treated properly.
Moesha Anderson on the other hand was an altogether different matter. It was one that Tony disliked the most about his job. Sexual assaults in the civilian world were horrible enough to investigate and try to get prosecuted. The way the military handled them though made his stomach turn and always left him feeling like he’d failed in the end, no matter the outcome. This case was unfortunately one of those instances where he’d done his best, got the best possible outcome, and still felt like he’d failed.
“That was a heavy sigh.”
Turning quickly, Tony let the freezer door swing shut behind him to see Jason sitting at the island watching him.
“I’m guessing that your thoughts are equally heavy since you didn’t see me here when you came in.”
“Fuck, yeah,” Tony offered absentmindedly as he opened the freezer and pulled out a package of frozen hamburger patties.
“You have an objection to burgers and fries?”
“Never,” Jason promised before taking a swig from the beer in front of him. When Tony noticed it was almost empty, he opened the door and pulled out a new one putting it in front of Hayes.
“I am sorry to hear about Massey,” Tony offered quietly leaning a hip against the island counter.
“Thanks,” Jason said softly finishing off the first bottle and pushing it across the island. Tony immediately nabbed it and put it in the recycling bin in the pantry, then returned.
“Tomorrow I have to go see his wife. I tried to go after landing but… Her mother said she wasn’t ready to see us yet.”
“I can only imagine what she’s feeling,” Tony sympathized. “I’ve had co-workers die, but not someone so close to that I had to plan funerals and such. If we can do anything, let one of us know. Papà has a whole foundation for military widows and orphans. The last thing they need to worry about right now is money bullshit. That offer of help goes to Bravo, too. If we can help any of you, just let us know.”
Jason nodded running a hand over the side of his face. “I don’t wanna talk about it. Don’t wanna think about it, but my brain won’t stop. Change the subject and distract me for a second, huh?”
“How do you like the view from your suite?” Tony asked nabbing the first topic that he could think of. “If you need any help unboxing things, holler. We tried to put as much away as seemed logical, clothes in dressers or the closet, alarm clock by the bed, etc. I’ll be honest, Parker has over the moon to find out you’re moving in. You might need to lock your door if you need privacy.”
“Parker is the man,” Jason objected with a grin. Tony guessed he was thinking of his nephew. “Li’l man can come to see me anytime that he wants. I uhh, I saw there are two empty rooms on the same floor as mine. I know maybe it’s a lot to ask but…”
When Jason trailed off Tony took a sip from his bottle to give the Master Chief time, but when he didn’t continue answered what he thought was the question. “We already have those rooms set aside for Emma and Mikey. To be honest, the only people that will be in my wing are you and Seeley. So, as you’ve seen there is room for any of your guys if they need a place either permanently or temporarily. You’re also welcome to have them over whenever. I think Alpha uses the entertainment area on the third floor regularly. Did you see the elevator?”
“Elevator?” Jason echoed, his lips twitching, and Tony nodded.
“It’s big enough to fit a hospital bed. Dad had it enlarged and changed after Aiden joined the SEALs. So, I don’t know how many single people you have, or even not single I guess, but the point is, our stupidly big beach mansion is your stupidly big beach mansion.”
Jason just blinked before rubbing a hand over his eyes. When he pulled it away, they were suspiciously red, and Tony was a little worried that he’d gone too far.
“This is a little bit of a mind fuck,” Jason admitted quietly running a hand over his mouth before taking another swig of his beer.
“I mean, it’s no secret, so I might as well tell you now, that I suck at being alone. I think it’s the thing I hate more than anything in the world. I really haven’t ever done it much in my life until Alana and I got divorced and then all of a sudden, I had all this time on my hands without anyone there to share it with. I think I was going quietly mad alone in that apartment by myself so much.”
“Seeley said that he wasn’t awfully impressed by it. He said that it kinda looked like a crash pad, or that you were trying to punish yourself with it.”
“It’s not like I’m home a lot, or at least I didn’t think I was until all of a sudden I was home alone when I was stateside. I guess that I hated the thought of living alone so much that I just took the first place I could find that I thought that I could afford. Now though, I’m here in this… Beach mansion is the best way to describe it, I think. I have this space that’s mine, but there are all these other people in it, too. Your dad was here when I arrived, and he was showing me around. I can’t believe how generous he’s being. It’s… odd.”
“You have to understand that the Sheppard family has served the military in some branch or fashion going back to the Revolution. They can directly trace their lines back to someone who served under Washington. To say that he has a deep regard for our Servicemen and Servicewomen is an understatement. Whatever you need isn’t just lip service. We mean it. I know it’s gonna take some time to get used to, but I hope someday you come to believe us.”
Tony watched Jason open his mouth to reply but was interrupted by the thunderous sound of footsteps running up the steps followed by an irritated bellow forewarning them who was coming.
“Parker! Slow down!”
“Uncle Jason!” The six-year-old cried as he ran into the room and flung himself at his beloved Uncle who just barely had time to stand and catch the little boy. Knowing the conversation had come to an end, Tony moved to the wall where the oven was, turning it on, then went back to the refrigerator. This time staring in the fridge to see what kind of vegetable he could make to go with the red meat and fries.
The heavy conversation would be shelved for the evening. Tony having sensed that Jason had enough. What he needed now was little boy cuddles and happy, easy conversation to try and help him ease his pain.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~
That night, Tony lay in his bed in his suite, the doors to the balcony open to let in the cool Spring air. He was staring at the ceiling, listening to the painful cries coming through the open doors. He guessed that it was Jason, and as much as he wanted to go check on him, he battled with whether it was his place. Restless and knowing that he wouldn’t sleep, even after Jason had quieted, Tony got up and decided to roam the house, maybe find something to read in the library in his father’s section of the house.
Pulling on a t-shirt to go with his boxers, Tony padded out of the room and headed across the mansion, pausing at the entrance to the library, hearing a soft almost intimate sounding chuckle from inside. Not sure what to do he had almost decided to leave when he heard a sigh from within.
“I thought we’d broken you of your doorway lingering problem, Paddington.”
Wincing, Tony wandered in with a sheepish smile on his face. “Sorry Boss, Papà, I didn’t mean to interrupt.”
“No interruption, Antony. We were just reading. Is everything ok?”
Deciding that he might as well take advantage of the chance to get some advice, Tony made his way inside curling up at one of the ends of the couches.
“Someone was having a nightmare, or it sounded like it anyway,” Tony offered as an explanation with a small shrug of his shoulder. “I assume it was Jason. I couldn’t decide if I should go down and check on him or not. Then before I could decide he quieted down.”
“And by then you were awake, and decided to come to seek some counsel,” Patrick guessed, and Tony gave a nod of confirmation.
“It didn’t feel like my place, you know? I mean, Seeley is here, and they’re super tight. But then I’m leaving everything on Booth’s shoulders and that isn’t cool either. Especially if Jason and I decide to do something more than flirt, but we aren’t past that flirting only part yet. So, I don’t know…”
“I see your rambling skills are still in full force,” Gibbs interrupted earning himself a glare from Patrick, which he completely ignored.
“Sounds like things worked out, and maybe you just need to mention it to Hayes to see what he wants. Having a near-stranger appear in your bedroom at night would be unsettling, but if you two are working your way to something real then maybe it wouldn’t be and might be welcomed. Only way to know is to talk to the man.”
“Master Chief Hayes has had a few big blows recently with his divorce, losing his team member, then having to move out of his apartment because the landlord was an anti-military asshole. Just one of those things is enough to give someone nightmares, let alone all three of them together. I agree with Jethro, Antony. The best course of action might be to just speak with Jason to see what he wants. I certainly don’t see a downside to it. Hayes might be uncomfortable for a moment discussing it, but I think in the end it will help you both.”
Tony spent a few more moments chatting with his Papà and Gibbs before finding himself yawning again. Excusing himself, Tony slipped out of the room, and when he was snuggled back in his bed, he found himself hoping that someday he could be the one to comfort Jason’s nightmares.
End Notes: 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!