Chapter Six: It’s Time for a Change, Again
Tony sat in the hotel room he was sharing with Seeley in Barcelona, Spain. They were investigating a case of some experimental Naval weapons landing in the hands of a warlord in Maputo, Mozambique, which was where they’d started their case. Flopping backward on the bed bare-chested and wearing a pair of his favorite OSU sweats, Tony stared at the stain on the ceiling trying to decide if it looked like it was a unicorn or goat with a horn in a weird position.
He was tired. Seeley was tired. While Tony loved his current position and knew that taking the job was the best decision he could have made, he was still dead assed tired. While the last seven years had been rewarding, he and Seeley had, had more than one conversation about their futures and how long their current positions would be sustainable. Having come to the decision that something needed to change, neither of them wanted to leave NCIS. While Tony had been as close to leaving after the whole Incident That Shall Not Be Discussed as a person could get, he had stuck with it thanks to gaining a partner that he can trust.
While the position had been a damned good decision, Tony knew, or at least seriously doubted otherwise, that he would feel the same way if Seeley Booth hadn’t agreed to come to NCIS to become his partner. While the two of them had a close friendship before their partnership, Seeley was now every bit as much a brother to Tony as David, John, and Aiden were. Seeley and Parker had their own set of rooms at the family mansion, which had been expanded over the years as Parker grew from kid to teenager.
It wasn’t just Tony either. The entire Sheppard clan had enfolded the two Booths into their midst, especially after Seeley’s brother and then grandfather died. Patrick viewed Parker as much a grandchild as he did David’s three children. Tony knew not only had an educational fund been started for him, but that he’d been added to Patrick’s will along with the other grandchildren.
David, John, and Aiden treated Seeley as just another brother and the only reason Seeley didn’t have his own wing was that frankly, he and Tony liked sharing a space. In the end, Patrick had basically divided Tony’s wing up into one for Tony and Seeley and the two men had been thrilled.
Then there was Gibbs.
Tony couldn’t help but smirking as he thought of his former mentor. The four brothers had, had this “were they or weren’t they” bet going on trying to figure out the nature of Patrick and Gibbs’ relationship. It had gone so far as to encompass David’s wife Charlie, John’s husband Rodney, and Ducky who had moved to serve as something of a medical consultant for the family when he’d decided NCIS was too much.
Tony was on the fence about the “are they or aren’t they” debate. While it felt a little weird that his father could be knocking boots with his mentor, at the same time all Tony wanted for either man was for them to be happy. As far as he was concerned if they found that happiness in each other then it was worth it.
Tony and Gibbs had worked hard over the last seven-something years to build their former boss and SFA relationship into actual friends. Patrick had flat out demanded that Gibbs continue his therapy and it seemed to have done a lot of good for the older man. So much so that despite the family debate, the three original brothers considered Gibbs as much a part of the family as Seeley. It was to the point that when David and Charlie had their baby girl two years ago, they’d named the red-headed blue-eyed bundle Jaqueline Shannon Sheppard in honor of Gibbs’ father and his first wife.
Gibbs had ended up taking over responsibility for Patrick’s personal security and eventually oversaw security for the entire family and family estates. According to David, there was nothing more amusing than watching Gibbs try and handle Patrick when it came to their father or Papà’s safety.
Hearing a ping from his computer, Tony looked over to see his laptop had finished its search, and with a sigh abandoned the stain on the ceiling to see if it found anything. Rolling off the bed, he plopped down in the chair and frowned at the screen and the little blinking dot indicating that there was something waiting for him to review.
“We got something?” Seeley asked stepping back into the hotel room from the trip to the communal bathroom he’d made. “Our current case or The Case?”
The Case being the continued FUBAR of The Incident That Shall Not Be Discussed. While the case itself was wrapped up, for the most part, there were unfortunately still lingering issues that were not. Abby and McGee had both in the end been booted out of NCIS and banned from ever holding a position with a government agency or with any company holding government contracts as Gibbs predicted. Leon Vance had similar restrictions put on him with an added agreement that he would never seek public office. The last bit had been suggested by Patrick who quietly suggested that a man that ambitious would get stupid ideas if allowed to, and none of them wanted to see that man in a position of power, again.
McGee and Vance’s every move was closely watched, and while neither of them was happy about it, in the end, McGee took the whole thing better than Vance had. When the dust settled, McGee shifted his sights and talents to the gaming industry and after going back and taking some classes, had joined a fledgling company that had a moderately successful First-Person Shooter game.
Vance was much less tolerant of his restrictions and oversight than McGee, but to everyone’s amusement was kept in check not by anyone in the Federal Government but by his wife Jackie. Tony had always thought of her as a woman of formidable personality and she was someone whom Tony had actually liked a lot.
Granger had a rough beginning after having a second NCIS Director leaving the position in questionable circumstances, even if it was only a very small circle who knew that. The current director hadn’t been fazed though and certainly had lived up to the praise those who recommended him had heaped on him. It was because of Owen Granger that Tony believed in NCIS again and was as loyal to the agency as he was to his family.
In the aftermath of Ducky’s retiring to work for the Sheppard family, a new ME had been hired that had been less than stellar. Dr. Isha Murillo had looked good on paper, but in the end, hadn’t been up for the position or the immense responsibility that Ducky had made look so easy. Once Ducky left, Jimmy had buckled down on his schooling, going so far as to take a temporary absence from NCIS to finish it, and eventually replaced Dr. Murillo when he left for a less stressful position elsewhere.
That left Abby, who was the reason for the blinking dot on the screen. While no one had expected Abby to take her punishment well, no one had expected things to go as off track as they did. At first, there was a lot of hacking, and crying, and demanding that someone, mostly Gibbs, fix her life. When that hadn’t happened, she’d gone quiet claiming that she was going into a retreat with the Sisters.
While initially, that was true, through some trickery, by the time they all realized that she’d been too quiet for too long, she was missing. At first, Gibbs had been worried that she’d been the victim of Eli David’s rage. She had been a bone of contention between not just Tony and Gibbs but Patrick and Gibbs for the first couple years of his employment with SI.
It wasn’t until a random picture had been taken by CIA officer Vostanik Sabatino popped up that Gibbs was forced to admit that things were as bad as everyone else had claimed. Sabatino was hunting down an arms dealer that showed Abby in the company of not just Eli David, but Anthony DiNozzo, Senior laughing and looking like anything but a victim. The following handful of weeks had been dark for the older man who took hard what he saw as a betrayal of the woman he viewed as a daughter still despite her issues. Ironically, it had been Seeley who talked the man around and convinced him to leave the woman to others to deal with.
While Gibbs had backed off, Tony hadn’t fully. While he was trying to stay out of the whole thing as much as possible, he just couldn’t fully let it go. Had Abby done literally anything other than what she had done, he would have just let her live her life and probably pushed her out of his mind. Instead, she’d thrown her hat in with the two people that Tony hated more than anyone on the planet in some pathetic attempt at retribution for something that she did to herself.
He wanted to look at the bit of information blinking on his screen, but the agreement was that if he found information that he’d just sent it immediately to the team working on the issue. “You know you have to send it off, brother. Just push the button and let’s get back to Giorgio Rosas and his band of merry thieving petty officers. I’d like to get home sooner rather than later. I need to get things started for taking custody of Parker. Have you decided what you’re going to do?”
Tony tapped the keys on his keyboard sending the blinking dot of information off to Raven Ramirez to inspect then shut the top of the laptop harder than necessary. “I mean, there’s only one choice, Seeley. Unless you’ve changed your mind, they’re gonna have to find a place for both of us. Maybe it sounds whiney and repetitive, but I’m too old to start over with either a new agency or a new partner. Not to mention you’re family, and frankly, anyone following in your shoes would be hopelessly outclassed. I think the only option we have is to go see Owen and see if he has something for the both of us where we can stay home more.”
“You miss Patrick,” Seeley said in more statement than a question, and Tony nodded.
“I miss Patrick. Hearing that he’s retiring was… I don’t know what the right word is. Eye opener makes it sound more dramatic than it really was, but I don’t know what a better word would be. I just know I’m tired of being tired, Seel. I want a home. I want a life partner to go with my partner on the job. I want people that I can teach and lead and mold. I like what we do, I just am tired of all the traveling and shit. I wanna sleep in the same bed every night, and I can’t do that here. Hell yes, I miss my Papà. If that makes me sound like a child well, fuck it.”
“Knock that shit off,” Seeley scolded walking away to sit down on his bed.
“It’s not childish at all. You and Patrick are incredibly close. Then there’s the whole where Patrick goes, Gibbs goes, and you aren’t much less close to LJ than you are to your Papà. I mean the man isn’t even my father and I would like to be able to spend more time with him. It’s odd. I’ve spent most of my life despising my own father and scoffing at the notion I needed one, and now between Patrick and LJ I practically have two. Parker adores his Nonno and Gramps. He cried as hard at Jackson Gibbs’ funeral as he did my grandfather’s.
“So, let’s get the evidence we need to prove Rosas and his fellow asshats did this shit like we think they did and go find ourselves a new position.”
Nodding Tony turned back to the laptop and opening the top again, started to review their evidence again looking to see what they had missed. It was time to alter his path to something new and maybe find someone to love to go with his new position.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Master Chief Jason Hayes and Senior Chief Ray Perry were sitting in Lt. Commander Eric Blackburn’s office going over some AARs and other paperwork from their last mission when a knock was heard on the office door. “Adam, come on in,” Blackburn greeted as Jason and Ray stood to shake hands with their friend.
“You get your new list of victims?” Jason joked to Master Chief Adam Seaver who led Green Team. The final step for the newest Tier One SEAL candidates.
“I did,” Adam confirmed coming in and after giving Jason a pat on the shoulder moved to lean against the wall behind Blackburn’s desk. “Saw an interesting name on it, too. You stop pissing off McNeil yet?”
“It isn’t my fault that guy is a dick!” Jason spat angrily, as he plopped back down in his chair. “Not even Beau likes him. So that should say all that needs to be said.”
Ray snorted from his chair eyeballing his best friend before shrugging a shoulder. “Beau is definitely much more by the book than Jason, and when even he thinks the guy should loosen up and remove his lips from Harrington’s ass, I’d say there’s an issue.”
“Marek McNeil takes his job seriously,” Eric tried to insert but then side-eyed Adam. “The boys might have a point though. Seems like the guy has it in personally for Jason. Don’t think we didn’t notice that dodge of Jason’s question by the way. You’re not as slick as you think you are.”
“Yeah, well just stay out of Marek’s way. I heard there have been enough complaints Harrington demanded that someone look into it. As to the recruits, most of them are the same thing I am used to seeing. There was one name that stood out though. Eric, Clay Spencer is one of the recruits.”
Eric turned physically around in his chair to stare at his friend. “That kid’s old enough for Green Team? No way is he almost 30.”
“He’s not,” Adam’s lips twitch as he looks at his friend and former teammate. Both men had been on Bravo together at one point along with the legendary Ash Spencer. Although Spencer was more infamous than legendary lately thanks to the books, he’d taken to writing spilling SEAL secrets that should have stayed in house. “Not almost 30 that is. Clay just turned 25. Younger than even Jason was when he went through Green Team.”
“Bah, no way do I want Ash Spencer’s kid on Bravo. Kid’s gonna be nothing but a spoiled entitled brat. I am not dealing with a Junior version of that asshole.”
“Nice Jase judge the kid unworthy before you even meet him,” Ray chided, and Jason just gave his friend and 2IC the stink eye. As Bravo Team leader, aka Bravo One, Jason had the final say on who would be their newest member. That being said, he would take Ray’s opinion under strong advisement as he had done since he took the lead of Bravo.
“Ray’s right, Jason,” Adam said quietly rocking back and forth slightly so his back bounced lightly off the office wall. “As you know Ash, Eric, and I all served together on Bravo. Just so happened to be when Clay was a little kid. I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t write the kid off before he even has a chance. Enough people do that.”
Jason rolled his eyes but kept his mouth shut for longer than any of the other three men thought he would. Especially with his arms crossed over his chest indicating how annoyed he was. “No one just shows up and earns a spot on Bravo Team.”
“No one is saying he should, Jason,” Eric scolded as he leaned back in his chair with a frown on his face. “However, you’re closing your mind to a kid before he even has a chance. All Adam and I are saying is that we were there for some of Clay’s childhood, and what I want to know is why, if you think Ash is a poor excuse for a SEAL, that you think he was any better of a father?”
“Seems to me, Jase, that if you close your mind off to a candidate before he’s even shown up for his first day that Bravo could be losing out on someone we need. You and I both agree that while the team is damned good, we’re still missing something.”
Jason grunted giving all the indication that he heard them and would take their words under advisement. Now standing still, Adam just shook his head at the stubbornness of his fellow Master Chief. “How’s everything else going? Sonny talking to Nate yet?”
Jason just ran a hand through his hair his annoyance just growing. “Those two are going to be the death of me. Why in the hell they can’t get along for two damned seconds, I don’t know. Why can’t they be more like Trent and Brock? Those two never argue.”
“If they were, Bravo would certainly be the quietest SEAL team that’s for sure,” Eric joked making even Jason’s lips twitch.
Bravo Team was a Tier One SEAL Team and considered the best of the Navy’s DEVGRU SEAL Teams. While the team had been at the top of the SEAL team listings for quite a while, Jason worked hard to make Bravo the best version that they’d ever been.
Being the longest current member of the team, it wasn’t his longevity that had earned Jason Hayes the title of Bravo One. The man was well known for his hard work ethic and his drive. While there were a lot of people who didn’t like him, and thought that he didn’t deserve his position because of what they viewed as his habit of rule-breaking, there were just as many who respected him and looked up to him.
Jason Hayes was passionate and stubborn, both traits that helped and hurt him. He was quick to anger and could stubbornly hold onto something. At the same time though, he was also man enough to apologize when he was wrong and open to listening to the opinions of others. Newly divorced from his childhood best friend and sweetheart, Jason had two children that he regretted not being able to spend enough time with but didn’t trust anyone but himself with their and the nation’s security.
Jason proved he was the best by doing. He may argue and attack when needed, and some said that he drove his team too hard, but he didn’t hold his teammates to any standard he wasn’t willing to meet himself. In fact, the standards that he held himself to personally were even higher than what he expected of anyone who wore the Bravo patch. Jason knew he was hard to work for, but he also knew that it was his drive and standards that had put Bravo on top of the SEAL heap for so long.
Deep down there were a lot of people that knew that best of the best standing was the real reason most hated Jason Hayes. As much as they bitched about him and said he was unfit, they couldn’t argue that he got results. He might not have been as young as Clay was when he hit Green Team, but he’d been damned close. He’d known that he had to work harder and longer than everyone else, and he hadn’t changed his mindset since.
His Second in Command Senior Chief Ray Perry was not only his best friend but the person that Jason depended on to keep calm when Jason wasn’t. Whereas Jason was emotional and stubborn, Ray was calm and flexible. Ray was Jason’s perfect complement in almost every way. When they’d first joined the team together, their friendship had been formed amongst battles on the field and in the bars. That was until Ray Perry met his wife Naima in an ER one night and fell hard for the compassionate woman whose religion was as much a part of her as the blood in her veins or the air she breathed.
As Bravo Two it was Ray’s responsibility to watch out for Jason while Jason was trying to watch out for everyone else. There were times when the man surely wondered what the hell, he’d gotten himself into, but as his wife taught him, he put his faith in his God and believed that He had put Jason in his life for a reason.
While outside the team most attributed Jason as the person most responsible for Bravo’s success, Jason always said the Team’s victories were because of the Team and that started with Ray. Jason knew that he couldn’t do what he did without being able to trust in the person watching his back, and for a long time that person had been now Senior Chief Ray Perry.
Bravo Three was a mostly hotheaded Texan whose team life was 100% Bravo all the time and whose private life was an endless series of short-term relationships and one-night stands. Where Jason was passionate, Percival “Sonny” Quinn was most definitely short-tempered. Hailing from Texas the barrel-chested man wore his heart and his love for his home state on his sleeve. One thing you never had to worry about with Sonny was not knowing what he was feeling.
Despite his obvious love for his home state, Sonny was almost mum about his family. It was only because of their years together that Jason and Ray knew that Sonny’s mother died when he was around fifteen. They also knew that he and his father’s constant headbutting was what drove Sonny to the Navy. Sonny was the eternal bachelor of the team if you believed Sonny, but both Jason and Ray thought that there was a world of pain beneath the Texan’s boisterous claims, and suspected that if the right woman came along, he’d give her as much as he gave his team.
Bravo Four was Nate Massey, and almost the complete opposite of Sonny, which was a large reason why the two didn’t get along. Nate was a mostly easy-going man who, while he worked hard for his spot on the team, believed that his family always came first. Married with a son, who was Jason’s godson, Nate openly despised Sonny’s carousing and hotheadedness.
Where the Team was Sonny’s life, for Nate it was his actual family that was his life and preferred them to the team in his downtime. In Nate’s mind, his family was his wife and son, and Bravo were just the people that he worked with. He was close with Jason and Ray, but not so much the others. Besides his never-ending feud with Sonny, he mostly didn’t pay much attention to the two team members beneath him.
Bravo Five Trent Sawyer was the first of those two SEALs. Sawyer was the team member with the most medical training and often acted as an unofficial medic in the field. When there was a medical emergency in the field, technically all of them had the basic training they needed, but Trent had gone out of his way to learn some extra things the rest of them didn’t.
The team’s fifth member had suffered quite a serious injury before joining Bravo, and for quite a while there had been only a very small chance that he’d return to active duty. Not one to let others decide his fate though, not only did Sawyer put extra effort into his recovery, but he asked as many questions as he could along the way.
His intention was that when he returned, hopefully, he could use his new knowledge to help his brothers. Not only had he managed it, but in the handful of years that he’d been on Bravo, he had used his knowledge to save his brothers’ lives and careers more than once.
The last current member of Bravo was a K-9 Handler Brock Reynolds and his canine companion Cerberus aka the Hair Missile. Cerberus was a Belgian Malinois and had quickly become an asset to the team both in and out of the field. Brock and Cerberus had only been with the team for under two years, but by the end of the first six months the pair had been with them, Jason couldn’t imagine the team without a K-9.
It didn’t hurt that Jason loved dogs, and quickly bonded with the pooch often helping Brock out with training and such when needed, and his schedule allowed. The best part was that other than Nate, the rest of the team loved Cerb, also. Since Brock and Cerb weren’t the only ones that Nate didn’t take to, he didn’t push things.
Of course, Jason wanted his whole team to be close. It was what he had always envisioned in his mind, but they’d just never found the correct combination to manage it. As he tried to picture the Spencer kid on the team, Jason couldn’t help his mental flinch. He just couldn’t picture Ash fucking Spencer’s spawn fitting in with the rest of the team.
Of course, Jason had to admit, if only to himself deep, deep in the far corners of his mind, that maybe he was making some assumptions about the son based on his father. Saying Ash and Jason didn’t get along was a vast understatement.
Even before the fucker wrote that damned book and revealed secrets the two hadn’t gotten along. Ash was on his way out of the Navy and off Bravo by the time Jason joined the team. Ash didn’t like the new young stud alpha male and Jason made no bones about disliking the narcissistic slimy veteran.
“Just, please for me keep an open mind, Jason,” Adam asked pulling Jason back to the present, and eventually the Master Chief gave a short nod. Shortly after that, Jason headed off with Ray to begin their daily routine, and Clay Spencer was pushed out of his mind.
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!