Chapter Seven: Finding a New Landing Spot
Tony stepped off the elevator and marveled at the improvement a paint job made. His partner Seeley Booth was a step behind him. Gone was the obnoxious orange from the walls and in its place was a nice restful green that looked like mint to Tony, but he wasn’t a color expert or artist. It wasn’t often that he and Seeley had to come to the Navy Yard anymore. Most of their conversations with the Director were done via video conference, and his reports were submitted digitally from whatever town or city they were currently located in.
The last roughly seven years had been spent mostly living out of their suitcases as they roamed the country and sometimes the world putting out fires for Director Granger. While for Tony it had been exhilarating and helped him not only find his passion for his job again but also helped him hone a new skillset in intelligence gathering, they both had grown tired of it.
The last two years had been especially hectic, and they’d been on the road more than off of it. While they both understood, it felt like the fires were getting greater in number, and yet were still trying to be handled by just two people. Something had to give. Tony missed his family and wanted more in-person contact than he’d had. Seeley wanted more time with Parker than he was currently getting.
While trying to build a relationship with a newly discovered family while constantly being away from home hadn’t been ideal, Tony thought that maybe it might have helped considerably. He could have contact when he wanted or needed to have contact and didn’t constantly feel the pressure of being a bad son, sibling, uncle, etc. if he needed a day or several for himself.
It also allowed him to learn about his family over time and grow comfortable with the idea of sharing himself with them. He could let out little bits here and there and be ok with them knowing those bits without being forced to sit down and have a long chat about his life.
What he’d learned was that Patrick really was everything that not just Senior wanted to be, but Tony always wished Senior was. While no parent was perfect, and Tony was sure that there were things in Patrick’s past that would make his gut twist, the man seemed to genuinely care about him. For Tony, that was a huge improvement over his previous male parental figure.
David was awesome, and Tony enjoyed just calling him to chat with no particular goal in mind. David was snarky and could tear someone apart with his sharply edged tongue but loved his family and adored his wife and children. Tony was treated with the same love and concern as the brothers that David had grown up knowing and that meant everything to the man who’d grown up mostly alone.
John was still in large part a mystery. Their conversations were almost entirely reliant upon email conversations. While they had gotten some in-person time over the last 7 years, it wasn’t as much as either of them would like, but it was what it was. Tony and Seeley had spent some time on Atlantis but hadn’t been there a lot. John ran a tight ship when it came to the military members under his command, and therefore there was little crime on a level that needed Tony and Seeley’s involvement.
Neither Tony nor John was going to get bent over the fact that their jobs needed them as they both seemed to understand they had a lifetime to get to know each other. While it may not be perfect, it was what they had, and Tony knew that if something happened, John would have his back just as fiercely as David and Aiden would.
Aiden was the baby, and while you could tell it at times when the pampered youngest child came out, he was also loving, compassionate, and alpha. Aiden was an experience and Tony had enjoyed getting to know his younger brother. Being the third of the four sons, Tony loved the fact that he not only had older brothers but a younger brother as well. Being a SEAL, Aiden wasn’t that much more accessible than John was, but unlike the brother stuck in the middle of another galaxy, at least Tony could have phone conversations with Aiden.
David was the one who shared the nickname Li’l Alpha that John had bequeathed Aiden as a baby and initially Tony didn’t get it. Aiden came off as the most laid-back person that he’d ever seen. He was a man who was completely comfortable in his own skin and had not a single concern that his family would always have his back. Then, one day Tony’s job and Aiden’s job intersected, and Tony walked into a meeting where his youngest brother was tearing into someone for something.
The Team’s Commanding Officer had hurried over to explain the sailor getting chewed out had neglected to do something that could have resulted in a serious injury had Aiden not caught it. Tony had taken great pleasure in assuring the man that he had no issue with the dressing down, he’d just never seen his little brother in Alpha mode before. “Suddenly the Li’l Alpha thing makes much more sense,” Tony quipped and got an understanding smile from the CO. “Don’t share that or tell him I shared that though. He’d kill me.”
The CO had just smiled and promised to keep the nickname to himself. “Yeah, Aiden is one of those Alpha types who are completely chill until he isn’t. There’s this switch in his brain and it’s dizzying how fast he can go from calm and compassionate to in-your-face Alpha male. We’re working on finding more of a middle ground, but honestly, I think it just is what it is.”
By the end of the visit, the Petty Officer Aiden had been dressing down ended up being responsible for more than just the lax way he kept the team’s weapons clean when he was assigned the task. Tony had enjoyed watching Aiden tell the younger man just exactly what the hell he thought of him before Tony hauled the moron out of the room in cuffs. A quip from Tony about how effective his little brother would be against criminals in an interrogation let said brother on the path to a Criminal Justice degree that Tony was rather proud of.
It was Patrick though who had led Tony to his need for a shift in his job. Unlike Senior, Tony longed to be able to spend time with his father. So, when the man announced that he was retiring from day-to-day oversight of Sheppard Industries, leaving things in David’s capable hands, Tony took it as the sign he believed it to be. So, the second that he’d wrapped up his current operation, Tony had requested a meeting with Director Granger to discuss his future job options.
Tony thought that the best decision he’d made for himself in the last decade was his decision to let himself be a part of the Sheppard family and accept the idea that he maybe should give Patrick a chance. Over the 7 years that Tony had been traveling for work, his true father hadn’t let that separation from being a part of his son’s life. The two talked over the phone and sent text messages quite regularly via the Sheppard Messaging app.
Patrick was even known to travel to wherever Tony’s current operation was located at for a day or two when Tony was going to be between cases just so the two could have dinner together or spend a few quiet moments in each other’s company. It was a surreal experience having a father who actively sought out a chance to be a part of Tony’s life.
“Tony! I heard you were going to be in the building!” He heard and paused at the entrance to the MCRT’s area in the bullpen.
Seeley moved to stand at the bottom of the steps waiting but still give Tony some space. It was still odd, and a tiny bit heartbreaking, to stand in that area and see people who weren’t his team there. Despite how it ended, and how painful and aggravating the betrayal had been by his various teammates, they’d still been his team, and having a team was something he missed.
Through the course of his job, Tony had interacted with a lot of NCIS’s teams. While he’d enjoyed most of them, none of them were his team. One of the things he’d rediscovered during his time acting as Granger’s troubleshooter, was his ambition. However, unlike previously, where he just wanted to get to the top of the pack, this time his goals were different. He wanted this own team. He wanted a chance at building something with a group of people he didn’t know.
He wanted a chance at guiding a probie or even his own Senior Field Agent and get the pleasure of seeing them achieve their goals, watching them become the agent that he believed they could be. Watch them achieve the goals that they’d always dreamed about. He wanted to create roots.
Tony wanted to put his footprint somewhere and know that it would last, not watch it be erased by the next strong wind. He wanted daily physical contact with the same people and know that they were his. He also found that the more he found himself again, the more he wanted someone, the same someone and not various different someone’s, in his bed, his life, his heart every day and night.
He didn’t know as he wanted or even could tolerate being the Director of something. However, Senior Agent in Charge or something similar felt right. He wanted to put his hands into something and create something good and beautiful out of it. He’d spent enough time alongside Seeley as Granger’s troubleshooter that he knew he would never be able to achieve that in his current position as it was currently made up.
“Morning, Rick,” Tony greeted with a smile as his fellow Supervisory Special Agent came to greet him. Despite having no one to lead, Tony’s current position had come with a promotion due to the nature of the cases that he was working on and how either sensitive or classified the situations were.
“Here for your next big adventure?” Rick quipped as the two men shook hands where Tony stood still on the edges of the bullpen.
“I’m actually looking for a change I think,” Tony shared with his longtime work friend as his eyes drifted over the seats noting that the only person present other than Rick wasn’t familiar to him in the slightest. “We both are. Seeley still enjoys traveling on occasion, just not full-time like we do now. Plus, he is getting Parker full-time starting here in a couple weeks. So, changes have to be made. I just hope there’s a place for us here to do that.
“I’m sure you saw dad announced his retirement from day-to-day activities at SI. I kinda took it as the indication it was time for me to try my hand at staying in one place again.”
“You thinking of coming back here?” Rick asked and Tony quickly shook his head.
“No, I don’t think I could work at the Navy Yard again. Plus, I think dad wants to get out of the DC area, which I can understand. We both know what a toll this town can take on you. No, while I want my own team again, I think, I don’t want it to be here. I just don’t know what options he has for us.”
Rick nodded, signaling his understanding. “Well, wherever you end up, I have no doubts that you’ll kick ass at it. You’ve always been the best of us, Tony. There are a lot of people around this building that are happy seeing you be such a success. I know that personally when everything went down, I was worried that you would break ties with NCIS and we’d lose you. Frankly, I wouldn’t have blamed you if you’d left, but I was happy to see things work out so you could stay with us.”
“Well, I guess it came down to them picking the right man in the end,” Tony confessed with a shrug. “Honestly, if they hadn’t picked Granger, I think that I would have left. The few people I had at the time that I thought I could trust all agreed that he was the perfect man to sit in that chair. So, I thought I owed it to him and the agency to give him a chance. I appreciate the words though, man. You’ve always looked out for me. I was glad when they gave you the MCRT. You deserved it.”
Rick glanced toward his team member replying to her quickly before turning back to Tony. “I admit that it was a little nerve-wracking at the time having to follow in not only such big shoes in you and Gibbs but recreate a whole new team after such a colossal mess that had blown up the last one. I think we’ve done some pretty good things over the years though.”
Tony gave Rick’s shoulder a pat before he turned toward the staircase. “I better go before I’m late for my meeting. Keep doin’ a bang-up job, Rick. I’ll see you around.”
After getting his own well-wishes from Rick, Tony followed Seeley up the staircase as they made their way to the Director’s office where Cynthia informed him that Director Granger was waiting for them. Heading inside, both SSAs greeted Owen with a handshake before taking seats in the chairs in front of the man’s desk. “Director Morrow called to thank you for your assistance with the Henderson case. They just got their conviction yesterday, and the evidence you helped them find was what put them over the top.”
“Just doing my job, Director,” Tony replied with a shrug as he settled more comfortably into the chair. “I appreciate you making time for us this morning. I know you have a busy schedule.”
“I am always happy to make time for you both, Paddington,” Director Granger replied easing back to sit more comfortably in his own chair. “I admit I’m a little apprehensive about this meeting though.”
“Nothing dire, I hope,” Tony promised, waving a hand in the air.
“We were just thinking it was time for a change of pace. I miss having roots, Owen. I miss having a team and seeing familiar faces every day. Seeley is going to be getting full-time custody of Parker and needs a home base where he can be at more often than not. I think he is still willing to travel though when necessary.
“I think what we both want is the ability to form a team instead of it just being us. It’s just become too much for two people. I don’t know what you have that would fit us, and not to sound like a married couple, but I think we both would prefer to keep our partnership intact.”
“You know, when I saw Patrick’s announcement, then got the notification about the change in Seeley’s custodial status over his son, I wondered how long it would be before I saw your faces. I’m glad though that this is just a change of scenery request and not you telling me that you’re leaving us for another pasture.” Tony watched Owen pull some folders out of a stack at the corner of his desk before the older man held a stack out to each of them.
“Just in case, I checked to see what I had available right now. I’ll be honest, I don’t have anything to offer you at the moment that in my opinion is on par with what you deserve. I did find a couple places though that I thought would intrigue you. Personally, I think the job on the bottom is the best fit for you both when you factor in the changes I would like to see made, with what I know about your situations. I’ll leave the decision to the two of you though.”
Tony nodded and opened the top of the four folders offered to him seeing Seeley already looking. The top file was an Assistant Special Agent in Charge position in the LA OSP location. The plus was that he’d get to work with Callen and Hanna and their crew all of whom he liked and enjoyed working with. The downside though was that he’d have to work closely with Hetty Lange, whom he didn’t particularly get along with, and frankly, no matter how much he worked at it he didn’t see himself changing his opinion. Then there was the fact that LA probably wasn’t the relaxing atmosphere that his father was looking to retire to.
Tony knew that he’d have to be somewhere on the East Coast. Patrick would still at times have to attend meetings and want to be close enough that he could go see David and the grandbabies whenever he wanted. Briefly, Tony wondered if moving in with his father at his age was odd but quickly shoved the question aside. Frankly, he didn’t care what it looked like. He had a whole childhood that he’d been robbed of with Patrick and intended to make up for it now.
The second folder was a team lead position at the CNFO office in Illinois leading the cold case team, which filled him with a whole load of nope. While he liked working cold cases, he wasn’t really interested in only working cold cases. Plus, he couldn’t picture Patrick settling there even if he could maybe live in Chicago. There was an opening in the Southeast Asia office in Singapore that might have held some interest if Patrick wasn’t going with him. However, the grandbabies were not in Singapore and while it might be a beautiful and exciting location that Patrick could probably be happy in, it wasn’t really practical.
While Tony could go without his father, he didn’t want to. So, Southeast Asia was also off the list. Feeling a little discouraged despite Granger’s claim that the bottom folder would be the best, Tony opened the final folder and froze for a moment when he saw the location. Little Creek, Virginia. Holy mother of perfect locations. Little Creek was where Aiden was currently stationed living in the huge assed family beach house by himself. It was close enough to DC and David’s family that Patrick could drive up whenever he wanted to or needed to for work purposes.
Scanning the papers, Tony noticed that it was a Residential Unit location, but also noted the note written at the top of the page from Granger about expanding the team. Lifting his eyes from the paper, Tony looked to Owen who was watching him with his hands resting on top of the desk.
“I take it you got to the Little Creek position,” Owen guessed with a smirk, and Tony nodded but remained quiet waiting for additional information.
“I have thoughts about that one. If I remember correctly your youngest brother is stationed there. While normally, I would be unwilling to lose you to a Residential Unit, I think we can make it work. I was thinking of combining your current position with the Residential Unit position and thus expanding the team that is already there.”
“Combining how?” Tony asked tilting his head to one side and looking toward Seeley who had leaned forward with that excited smile on his face Tony enjoyed so much. “I really don’t want to do any more constant traveling, Owen. I’m pretty firm on that.”
“And you wouldn’t have to,” Granger promised, holding up a hand as if asking for patience. “My thought is you lead a team larger than we would normally place at an RU. You both get promotions. Tony because you have more experience at NCIS and time here in a leadership role running your own team would be bumped up to Senior Agent in Charge. Seeley would be promoted to Assistant Senior Agent in Charge. Say four or five people in addition to the two of you.
“Tony would oversee the cases at the RU with Seeley overseeing the troubleshooting cases and each one handling the paperwork for your specific operation. The two of you would remain based in Little Creek and send whoever you feel is best suited for my troubleshooting needs. You’d have a full support staff of Forensics, Investigative Computer Analyst, and ME. Therefore, you can stay home-based, and still oversee my troubleshooting needs. If Seeley sees a case that he thinks needs his direct attention, then he can go, or if not he can send whatever team members he thinks are best suited for the operation. Thoughts?”
“It sounds too perfect to be real, to be honest,” Tony admitted scanning through the papers. “The shift to Senior Agent in Charge seems like a big jump. Aren’t I skipping a step?”
“I’m mostly going with the “it’s my agency and I do what the hell I want” theory, within reason obviously,” Granger admitted before taking a sip of what Tony guessed was coffee.
“I did run this by SecDef and the Committee at the last poker game and everyone thought this would be a good idea. You’d have had more responsibility than your average SSA even had I not given you a promotion because at that location you will be responsible for overseeing your support staff. Basically, though I’m adding a whole new team, which justifies the need for a SAC. Essentially Little Creek would be more than a simple RU now.
“We’ve already hired some additional people and shifted out some that were already there but didn’t get replaced. So, two of your team members are already set as well as all of your support staff. One of those existing team members has been promoted to Team Lead. The other was hired to go along with one of the support staff as they are life partners. You’d need to hire or recruit at least two maybe three people from other teams. We can open the listing up if you don’t have ideas on who you want to take with you.”
“Dean Winchester and Emily Prentiss,” Tony said immediately knowing his partner would agree, making Owen’s lips twitch and Seeley cough to hide his laugh.
“Emily is ready for a promotion and wants to get out of the DC area and Dean wants to get back to the states. His situation is similar to mine. He has a brother that he misses and wants to be closer to. Sam just transferred to a law firm in DC. I think he’d jump at the chance to be so close to him. I don’t have ideas on a third, but from looking at the makeup of the investigative team, I think I would like to add another female. That way we can have one on the troubleshooting operation and one on the RU operation if needed.”
When Owen quietly handed him another folder after digging it out from a pile on his desk, Tony took it handing back the three positions he was turning down. When he saw Seeley hand over three folders as well, Tony hoped that they were the same three. The folder he’d been given was for an Ellie Bishop who was finishing up some refresher courses at FLETC. She had most recently been with the NSA but moved to NCIS due to personal reasons.
“Why’s she leaving the NSA?” Tony questioned looking up at Granger as he handed the folder to Seeley as the Director sighed. “Why did she choose NCIS?”
“I met her on a case the MCRT worked and I assisted with. She was unhappy at the NSA and was looking for someplace new because she caught her husband cheating. As if that wasn’t bad enough, it was with a co-worker and happened multiple times on operations the two had been assigned together. She saw the whole thing as a betrayal by not just her husband but felt let down by the agency. I told her that if she came to NCIS I would find a good spot for her.”
Tony nodded as he looked back through her file again while Granger continued. “She’s a bit of an odd duck, but that’s not unusual for the NSA. I have been worried about finding her the right team leader who could encourage her without breaking her spirit or trying to make her into something she isn’t.”
“It would be nice to have a probie on the team. I mean, while Stokes is a transfer into NCIS also, his previous experience with the Las Vegas PD Crime Lab makes him practically a veteran, especially since I know their CSIs do a lot more investigative work than is normal. I can already see some perfect combinations of people in the personalities I am familiar with. I’ll take her. When do we start? That is of course dependent on Seeley being on board. I have no interest in breaking up our partnership.”
Seeley quickly nodded his agreement before handing the folder back to Granger. “Yeah, it honestly looks perfect. Tone, I don’t know if you remember, but Little Creek is where my cousin Jason is stationed at Little Creek. He and his wife Alana have been split forever. Honestly, it’s only a matter of time before one of them takes the final step and files for divorce. I’d love to be closer to him if that happens, plus it would be nice to just live close to each other again. So, I’m in. Parker loves the beach. I say we do it, Tone.”
Tony sees Granger glancing at his computer and guesses he’s checking a message or the calendar. “Let’s give it two weeks to get yourself moved down there and settled in. I want to have another meeting with you about the situation down there ahead of you beginning your new post. Things are a bit of a mess right now. The previous RAC didn’t work well with some of the Navy personnel there and it became something of a toxic environment. It was mostly a clash of personalities in my opinion, but in the end, things were bad enough that I made quite a bit of change.”
Granger’s eyes shifted from Tony to Seeley and lingered on his partner long enough that Tony couldn’t help but wonder what was up. Eventually, he decided that if it was something Owen thought was important, he would mention it. So, he let it go.
“Well, I’m not worried. I worked with Gibbs for years, I can work around personality issues whatever they are. Thank you for this spot, Owen. It’s really what I needed.” Tony stood with Seeley soon following and they each took some additional folders from Granger.
“Those are personnel files that I have on your existing staff. Matt Simmons will be your Team Leader. Nick Sanders-Stokes is the new hire that is finishing up FLETC currently. His husband Greg Sanders-Stokes is also at FLETC with him, as is the new ME Mae Jarvis. She’s transferring to us from the FBI and is used to doing some investigative work beyond her ME operation as needed. She was previously with a profiling team but needed something with less traveling if she can get it for family reasons.
“I will contact Special Agent Winchester and Special Agent Prentiss with the offer of the position transfer. Once I get a response, I will let you know what they say. I look forward to seeing you in you both in your new positions, Seeley and Tony.”
Shaking the Director’s hand, Tony followed Booth out of the office with a smile on his face and a bounce in his step. There was a time in his life where he believed that things would never look up. These days the skies were almost always sunny and the road smooth and clear.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Tony’s stepped into the office of the base commander wishing that Seeley weren’t going to be late in the mornings. It was his first morning in the office, and while he expected that he’d have to talk to the Base Commander he hadn’t thought it would be the second that he got in. After shaking Captain Harrington’s hand, Tony turned his attention, and still outstretched hand to the other man in the room.
The man was shorter than Tony by at least a couple of inches with dark hair and a full beard and mustache combination. “Lt. Commander Eric Blackburn, Bravo Team,” the man introduced himself as and Tony smiled. Before he could comment though, the CO motioned for them to sit and started speaking.
“I just wanted to make sure that we were not going to have a re-occurrence of the last NCIS RU leader here,” Captain Harrington began, and Tony forced himself not to smirk. He’d worked with enough military commanders in his career to know that it wouldn’t be received well. Instead, he disguised his smirk by taking a drink of his coffee. A part of him desperately hoped that Seeley did make it in earlier and was able to meet him for this meeting just for the chaos factor of it all.
“While I want it clear that in no way do I expect Bravo Team and especially Master Chief Hayes to be given preferential treatment, I want and expect things to be fair,” the commander continued, and Tony just nodded ignoring the suspicious look Blackburn was giving him.
“Master Chief Hayes has a certain reputation around here, and honestly with everyone that has probably ever met the man. He’s a perfectionist, a control freak, and it isn’t unheard of for him to do as he damned well pleases and expect everyone else above and below him in the chain of command to just go along with it.”
Tony nodded and hid another smile in his coffee. When his phone beeped notifying him of a message, he almost choked seeing Seeley’s message that he was there and on his way to the meeting. When Seeley suggested surprising both Aiden and Jason, Tony thought it was a wonderful idea. Patrick had warned that possibly it could backfire on them, but in the end, they’d all agreed it should be a safe surprise.
Now he was equally torn between horrified at the train wreck that he could foresee unfolding in front of him and gleeful at the unintentional chaos he was about to cause. “Gentlemen, let me assure you that while I am aware that Master Chief Hayes has a certain reputation, I’m not worried. I worked for about a decade under Retired Gunnery Sergeant Leroy Jethro Gibbs, second b is for bastard. We got along well enough that when he fully retired, he went to work for my father, and I consider him family.
“That being said, I have a reputation of my own. Some of it is accurate and some isn’t. I don’t tend to let other people make up my mind about something for me. So, knowing that I don’t anticipate any issues with dealing with the Master Chief. We already have plans and contingency plans for what to do should an investigation involving Bravo team or Alpha Team come up involving who will be in charge of it depending on the seriousness of the issue.”
“Why would you need contingency plans on handling Bravo or Alpha Team investigations?” Blackburn asked speaking for the first time and sounding like he suspected a trap. Tony really wanted to reassure the man that he had no intention of going after the Navy’s top Tier One team when a knock was heard on the door.
“I believe that will be my partner Assistant Senior Agent in Charge, Seeley Booth,” Tony advised and stood as the CO called for the person to enter. As he suspected, chaos hit the second the two men laid eyes on him.
“Hayes what in the ever-loving fuck?” Blackburn snapped as Captain Harrington shot Tony a glare.
“You know I heard all about you and your unprofessionalism, DiNozzo, but for you to pull this kind of bullshit prank,” Harrington was ranting, when Seeley stepped fully into the room letting the man behind him, unnoticed before that, step in behind him immediately quieting the two officers.
“It’s Paddington, Captain Harrington,” Tony advised smoothly not bothering to hide his smirk now that the asshole had called him unprofessional. “Some years ago, I found out that my previously thought father was in fact not any kind of parent at all. So, I changed my name. Fortunately, my real father, Patrick Sheppard, understood my need to honor my deceased mother’s name. If I may, gentlemen, as I was saying when he knocked. My partner and current NCIS Assistant Senior Agent in Charge Seeley Booth. He’s the one in the suit. I believe you both are familiar with his cousin, Master Chief Jason Hayes. He’s the one not in a suit.”
“Jesus God there’s two of them,” Harrington cursed before sitting heavily in his chair.
Tony forced himself not to eye-roll hard enough to give himself a concussion and turned his gaze toward Blackburn waving a hand at the two cousins sporting matching grins. “Like I said plans and contingency plans. As to Alpha, while I have no identical twin cousin, I do have a younger half-brother on Alpha team, thus making me ineligible for investigating any issues involving that team. Therefore, any cases where one of those team members is either a victim or suspect will be handled by SSA Matt Simmons. The same for Seeley and Bravo team. Then in those cases, Matt will report to the Director instead of one of us.”
Tony then turned to the Captain and lifted an eyebrow. “I would rather not start our working relationship off on the wrong foot by trading jibes. I do however need to make sure that you understand I got to my position because I can both play the political game when needed or call people on their bullshit when needed.
“I would hope that like myself, you are a man intelligent enough that you would rather base your opinion of someone on your own experience and not rumors started by people possibly fired from NCIS because they broke a basic rule at any level of law enforcement. I was told Admiral McGee was an old friend of yours. You should have talked to him not his son.
“I’d also like to point out that while they aren’t here anymore, I am. I’ve been here now for closer to 20 years than not. ASAC Booth is a former decorated Army Ranger Sniper. He had a long and equally decorated career with the FBI before he did me the honor of switching to NCIS to watch my back.”
Tony huffed and considered his next words, and eventually decided to just speak his mind. “Since I’m being frank, I’m going to continue to do so at the risk of coming off like an asshole. Quite frankly, Captain Harrington, I don’t give two shits what Master Chief Hayes’ reputation is, and it has jack squat to do with Seeley. It’s because I took the goddamned time over the last two weeks to read the files of every commanding officer on this base from your level down to the individual team leaders.
“I did that because I want facts, not someone else’s personality clash. I get it. It sounds like Hayes expects a lot of his people, the people around him, and anyone that should cross their paths. He’s probably grouchy, bitchy, and opinionated. At the risk of repeating myself, I know a Gunnery Sergeant just like him. I don’t give a fuck. Does he break the law? That’s what I care about.”
Tony narrowed his eyes and glared at the Base CO as he turned his mind away from this Hayes fiasco and to his partner. “As to your “there’s two of them comment” I want to make it clear since ASAC Booth is my responsibility, in my chain of command, and in no way even close to being in yours, that I expect him to be given the courtesy and respect due to his position until such time that he shows he doesn’t deserve it. Just because he looks like Hayes does not mean he is Hayes. They are cousins and they both have military experience. However, last I checked Master Chief Hayes has never been in the FBI and doesn’t have the long history of investigative experience that Booth does.
“They are not the same person any more than identical twins are exactly alike. I can assure you that anyone who thinks they are going to get away with pulling some bullshit on my ASAC because they hold a grudge against his cousin is going to find out why I worked for 7 years as a troubleshooter for the NCIS Director and was promoted to SAC to clean up the shit show that has been this RU office. I don’t wish to make war with you on day one, Captain Harrington, but I will if I have to.”
Tony ignored the softly whispered holy shit from behind him and had to assume it was Hayes because it wasn’t like it was the first time Seeley had heard him take on someone much higher up the political power ladder than Harrington was.
“You’re right,” Harrington finally conceded with a nod.
“My apologies SAC Paddington and ASAC Booth. I’m not afraid to say that Hayes is one of the biggest pains in my ass I’ve ever had to deal with. He’s also the best team leader that I’ve ever had the honor of watching work, and I hope that when the day comes that he steps out of the field, that we can get him to join us on this side of things. We need good, passionate, and honorable men like him doing this job.”
“As long as we’re starting off with a blank slate, and not one filled up with someone else’s grudges then I think I can safely say we’re good,” Booth offered quietly from behind Tony and Harrington gave a nod. Tony could see his eyes flicker to Hayes then back to Tony as the SAC stood waiting quietly.
“I believe Alpha is on base if my memory is correct. If Master Chief Hayes is willing, I am sure Senior Chief Scott would be fine with you saying hello to your brother.”
“That uhh,” Tony started and cleared his throat before continuing. “He doesn’t know we’re here. It’s been a few years since our schedules matched up enough to be in the same place for any length of time. Seeley and I wanted to surprise our family. I’ll be honest, neither of us expected this much chaos though. I didn’t know that Granger wasn’t filling you in on the family connections.”
The Captain waved a hand at a pile of folders on his desk. “Son, I am sure he tried, but it’s probably buried under that pile of dung. No hard feelings on my part. I apologize again for my inappropriate comment. I am glad to hear that both Hayes and Sheppard will have family close by.
“It’s always easier on my men when their family can be part of their day-to-day lives. I’ll be honest, Paddington. You’ve already impressed me more than your predecessor ever did. That ass-kissing, uptight, and too by the book prick wouldn’t have stood up to me like that for any reason. Sometimes a man needs an ass-kicking to know he was a moron. I look forward to working with NCIS. Dismissed, gentlemen.”
When the group shuffled out into the hallway, Tony watched the cousins hug and couldn’t help but grin at the sight. Tony knew how much Seeley had hated being so far from Jason who had lived close enough as a kid and was close enough to his age they were more like actual twins than cousins who looked alike. Both of their fathers had been horrible human beings, and while their mothers had done their best, the two young boys had often had to find comfort from their cousin instead of a parent.
“So, that’s why you were smirking,” Blackburn offered and when Tony turned to look at him, he caught the soft smile on the Lt. Commander’s face as he watched his Master Chief.
“Yeah,” Tony confirmed looking back to the cousins who were now chatting excitedly. “I knew there would be some chaos. I probably should start listening to my father more. Hopefully, we got it all straightened out. If I’d thought that Harrington was going to pull us in first thing, I would have made another decision. I honestly intended to call or email him this morning to explain the two connections.”
“He’s a good CO,” Blackburn assured and motioned down the hall. “Why don’t I take you to Alpha’s cage room? They’ll probably be a while. Bravo doesn’t have anything scheduled to do for another hour, and I think today is mostly working out and the like.”
“That would be appreciated,” Tony thanked the other man and they paused at the cousins long enough for Tony to be formally introduced and for Seeley to assure that he’d meet him at the Alpha cage room in a bit.
As they navigated the hallways, the two men chatted about the typical introduction topics and by the time they were at Alpha’s cage room, Tony was excited to find out the two had quite a few things in common. He’d been a little worried about fitting in and making quality friends. While it was very early, Tony’s gut told him that Blackburn was good people, and when the Lt. Commander offered his first name for use, Tony offered the same.
“Let me go get your brother,” Blackburn said patting Tony on the shoulder before stepping up to the heavy door pounding on it, and then stepping back to wait. Trying not to fidget he studied the hallways and marveled at how all bases were so similar, and yet it still took Tony forever to find his way around when he spent any length of time on them. The same thing happened when he was on a ship. It was embarrassing, but he’d yet found a way to speed up the learning process.
Hearing the door open, Tony ignored the conversation as Blackburn asked for Aiden to be given time to come out and welcome someone. Instead, Tony turned his thoughts toward Master Chief Hayes. The man was quite frankly sex on legs. He and Seeley were actually different enough that Tony didn’t think he’d have any issue telling them apart even if they were dressed identically. Just due to their job descriptions there were enough physical differences to tell them apart.
While Seeley had kept himself in tip-top physical condition, he didn’t have the muscle mass that Hayes did, and instead he was more lean muscle. Their coloring was slightly different just because Hayes had a tan from spending more time outside, whereas Seeley was most often stuck in an office or vehicle somewhere either investigating or heading to an investigation. There was also a slight difference in their hair color and cut with Jason’s being lighter and spikier.
There had always been a hint of something on his side when it came to Seeley right from the first time Tony met the FBI agent. However, in the beginning, Tony had misread Seeley’s sexual preferences and by the time he realized that Booth was in fact not the straightest man on the planet, but bent just enough to make things fun, they were fast friends. While Tony had hundreds of people that he was friendly with and excelled at making people feel comfortable around him, he didn’t have a ton of people that he considered a true-blue friend. To him, an honest to god friendship that he could depend on was loads more valuable than a quick fuck.
So, when it came to a choice between having Seeley in his life as one of his closest friends and spending a weekend of wild sex that would probably make their friendship weird and awkward from there forward, well there was really no choice. Now though, there was this Seeley look-alike that would be hovering in his space full time with just enough physical differences that Tony was taking notice.
“Tony?” He heard called in wonderment, and Tony turned his head just in time to see his little brother before he was wrapped up in one of Aiden’s massive bear hugs. “What the fuck dude? Is everything ok?”
“It’s fine Aiden,” Tony promised after patting his brother on the back and leaning backward. “Seeley and I took over the RU spot here. Today is our first day. I just got out of a meeting with the Base CO, and Blackburn offered to bring me over to say hello.”
“Holy shit!” Aiden exclaimed before hugging him again. “So, you’re moving here then? Are you guys moving into the house? Please tell me you’re moving into the house.”
Tony laughed and finally stepped backward. “We are, and not just me and dad either. Seeley and Parker are moving in, too. So, no more wild keggers for you, mister.”
Aiden snorted and shook his head as someone poked their head out and got waved over by his brother. “Tone, this is my team lead Senior Chief Scott Carter. Metal, this is my brother Tony. He works for NCIS and is taking up the RU here.”
“Well, I hope he’s less of an asshole than that last fucker who was convinced Jason was… Holy fucking shit!”
Tony turned in the direction Scott was looking and then almost fell over laughing as the twin cousins came down the hall. “Jesus I’m gonna enjoy the shit outta that,” Tony commented as Jason and Seeley grinned at him.
When the cousins stopped in front of the small group Jason gave his hellos to Scott and Aiden before turning Tony’s direction. “So, you’re not worried about dealing with me, huh?”
Tony just snorted and gave Seeley a look who didn’t look ashamed in the least before shrugging at the Master Chief. “The day you can out bastard Gibbs in his prime, then I’ll be… well not impressed. Actually, that would be the exact opposite of impressed. One go-around with Second B is for Bastard was enough. Let’s just say this is one area you need to appreciate being second best in and leave it at that.”
Tony watched Hayes arch an eyebrow at Seeley who just nodded at his cousin. “Words of wisdom, Jase. Words… of… wisdom.” The group chatted for a little while longer before the SEALs had to get their daily activities started.
“Yeah, we probably should head over and meet the new team or at least the ones that are there,” Tony agreed before shaking Jason and Scott’s hands and giving his little brother one last hug.
“You, I will see tonight, L’il Alpha,” Tony said with a smirk as Jason and Scott’s eyebrows lifted.
Aiden glared resting his hands on his hips, but Tony wasn’t worried in the least. “Before you get your knickers in a bunch, I have three words for you. “
“Crap,” Aiden cursed not bothering to wait to hear them. Instead, he immediately turned and stomped toward his cage room with Scott following along behind happily heckling him. Jason for his part just grinned and rubbed his hands together before bouncing off as Seeley and Tony headed in the opposite direction.
“You know, that’s gonna be all over the base by the end of the day, right?” Seeley said with a laugh and Tony just shrugged.
“Fucker shouldn’t have messed with my online movie database. It took me three months to get that shit back in the correct order.”
“Agreed,” Seeley offered as they made their way out of the main building and toward the secondary building set aside for the bigger team. “So, you’re gonna do more than make sex eyes at him, right?”
“Holy shit,” Tony cursed as he stumbled and shot Seeley a glare as his friend laughed. “You’re a fucker.”
“Come on, Tone,” Seeley said as he poked at his friend. “You know we would have ended up in bed had we not become such good friends. I’m glad we didn’t though ‘cause it would not have been a long-term thing. Having a brother is more important to me than a short-term fuck. Plus, Jason is more your type than I am. I mean sure physically we’re nearly alike, but it’s the personality that’s gonna get you. I know how much that Alpha thing heats up your blood. Trust me, you two would be perfect.”
“Isn’t he married?” Tony asked frowning as he tried to remember because he was sure that Jason Hayes was married to his childhood best friend.
“Nah,” Seeley offered as their building came into sight. “I mean, they were, but they’re divorced now. Finally, thank god ‘cause that shit wasn’t making anyone happy. He just told me in the hallway. Alana constantly felt like a failure ‘cause she wasn’t happy and couldn’t make herself to be content with him never really there. Jason felt like he was constantly torn in two between her and the team. I just want him happy. I guess she met this guy she’s wild about and Jason actually likes him. So, it was a friendly break.”
“And you think I am that person?” Tony asked tilting his head to one side as they paused on the walkway outside their building. “Not to have a repeat of you, but if he’s been with Alana his whole life then do you know for sure he’s into guys?”
“First off,” Seeley said hands on hips. “Yes, I actually think you’d be perfect. You’d understand his job and would understand his commitment to his team. Alana would love you, frankly. The kids are older, so you don’t have to worry about your little kid phobia.
“Secondly, they’ve known each other since they were kids. They actually got together for good well after high school. They dated a couple times in school but would go their own way and then get back together. I mean, they’re best friends and they love each other they just… they need different things. They kinda always have but something happened I’m not fully aware of and then the next thing I know they’re getting married. Anyway, Jason dated guys in between. Very discretely dated guys, but yeah… Jason’s about as straight as you are.”
“Which means he’s open to just about anything,” Tony laughed, and Seeley rolled his eyes before they made their way into the building to meet the new team.
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!