Chapter Ten: The Hunt Is On
Bravo Team shuffled into the conference room that they used for their briefings, led by Bravo One. Taking his normal place at the front of the table with Ray right next to him, Jason tilted his head at his cousin, curious as to why he along with two of the members of his and Tony’s team Dean Winchester and Emily Prentiss were present. Seeley and Eric were talking quietly at the front of the room in front of the screen they sometimes used to show videos or pictures of targets. Dean and Emily were off to the side on the opposite side of the table from Jason and behind Clay.
Once everyone was settled, Eric cleared his throat bringing everyone’s attention to him. “I am sure that you have noticed that Bravo Team hasn’t been included in the normal rotation. Today you find out why. With us is NCIS Assistant Senior Agent in Charge Seeley Booth along with Special Agents Dean Winchester and Emily Prentiss. They will be heading up our next operation, which will have several targets and span over several individual missions.
“That being said, you all know ASAC Booth, but I expect you to give him the professional respect he deserves. He is not here as Jason’s cousin. He’s here to help us take out one of this country’s biggest targets. So, without further ado, I will pass things over to ASAC Booth.”
Seeley nodded to Eric before turning toward the team. His face reflecting nothing but a serious intensity that only heightened Jason’s focus. “Bravo Team’s next operation is to bring down Eli David.”
“Now that is what the hell I am talkin’ about,” Sonny whooped, and Jason couldn’t help but smirk before giving Bravo Three a small headshake. It was interesting how the team had come together in the last few weeks.
Since the news of what NCIS thought Ash Spencer had done but couldn’t prove had been shared with the teams, everyone’s attitudes on both Alpha and Bravo had shifted when it came to their rookies. While there were still the normal rookie hazing rituals of cases of beer for team firsts, the attitudes, especially when it came to Clay had changed dramatically. Jason likened it to the, I can pick on my brother, but heaven help the outsider who does it, attitude.
Jason had been worried about how Sonny and Clay were going to cohabitate. Despite how tumultuous his relationship with Nate had been. In the aftermath of his death, Sonny hadn’t taken well to the notion of Clay, or really anyone, joining the team who was a rookie. Tony pointed out more than once to Jason it was most likely Sonny’s guilt speaking, and while Jason agreed there wasn’t much, he could do about it.
However, the second that Bravo Three heard that there was a threat to his team’s rookie, his attitude did a complete 180. It was to the point where when Jason asked Sonny to take Clay under his wing, his friend had agreed with only a courtesy grumbling. It was the oddest and fastest formed BFF type friendship he’d seen since his daughter had a fight with Mariyam Huff and immediately announced that Phoebe Currie was her new Best Friend Forever.
Not only that, but the two teams, who had already been tight thanks to Jason’s friendship with Alpha One Scott Carter also known as Full Metal or just Metal, became even closer. With Jason living with Aiden in the beach mansion, and Clay and Brian Armstrong being best friends, the two teams were almost like one.
Hearing a quip thrown Clay’s direction from Brock of all people, Jason couldn’t hide his amusement as he marveled at the difference the announcement had made in even the previously bottom two members of the team. One thing Jason had noted in the short time that Clay had been with the team, was that while the little shit was quick to question Jason and Ray, and trade barbs with Sonny, he had almost immediately become thick as thieves with Trent and Brock.
It helped that Cerb took to Clay the first time he’d laid eyes on the rookie, and Clay was happy to fawn over their hair missile. Jason noticed that quite often in lulls in activity during training, that Clay could be found as much with Brock talking dogs, Trent talking medical stuff even filling the unofficial medic in his own medical allergies and issues, as he was with Sonny making up tall tales or giving back whatever, the older SEAL dished out his way. In all his years of being a SEAL, Jason had never seen so many members of the team bond so quickly.
“Not that I object, but why Bravo?” Ray asked bringing everyone’s attention back to the briefing, including Jason’s.
“I assume that it goes without saying that what is said in this room doesn’t leave it. I’ve been in your positions and heard similar briefings. So, I know that you know the drill. However, you need to understand the this is not just any operation for us and especially me. This is just about as personal for me as it gets. You have been given permission to be given details that wouldn’t normally be shared in briefings because Tony loathes the “it’s above your clearance” bullshit that is used to hide shit just because.
“You will be told things that are of a personal nature to the SAC located on this base. The entire rotation on this base has been shifted by the Upper Brass of both NCIS and the Navy SEAL command because Eli David is that big of a target. Bravo Team’s upcoming deployment to take Echo team’s place will not happen. Instead, Charlie Team will be going in your place. Alpha Team was considered, but it was decided at times Bravo may need a backup team and it was suggested that be Alpha.
“Later today, I will be giving a similar briefing to Alpha so that your two teams can best work out just who and how many are needed where and when. There will be a handful of details personal to the SAC that won’t be shared. I can tell you right now Aiden Sheppard is going to want in on this mission, and the Upper Brass is turning a blind eye to the fact he shouldn’t be involved. Master Chief Hayes, I can already tell you that once Alpha Three hears the details of this mission, he’s gonna put up one hell of a fight to fill the seventh spot temporarily on your team.”
Seeley paused, and Jason nodded, as his mind tried to work out just what was going on. Jason had been involved in a lot of big operations in his career, but nothing of this magnitude. He certainly had never been part of a mission where Brass was blatantly saying do what you need just catch the bastard, or where NCIS was leading things. While they did obviously work with Naval Intelligence and had on occasion gotten NCIS involvement, he’d never worked an operation under their direction.
“To make sure you understand the importance of this whole operation, I am going back further than you’re used to, but everyone involved agreed it was necessary. This started basically around an NCIS agent named Kate Todd being murdered by Ari Hasswari, the son of Eli David and half-brother to Ziva David who later joined NCIS and filled the spot that Kate’s death had left vacant.”
“Say what?” Clay uttered with a frown shifting position to lean forward on the table resting his weight on his forearms. “What kind of heartless bastard decided that was a good idea?”
“That would be former and now deceased NCIS Director Jenny Shepard,” Seeley filled in and Jason could tell his cousin’s thoughts on the woman just by his tone.
“I won’t go into all the details of Ziva’s position with NCIS, but let’s just say not everyone was happy with her placement, but unfortunately the whole friends in high places were true twice over, and Shepard kept her spot right up technically until her death. Although at the time she was being investigated for dereliction of duty and on suspension.”
“What did she do?” Brock asked, and Jason was so surprised to hear the normally quietest member of the team who rarely spoke during briefings he had to look to make sure it was really Brock.
“She convinced one of her teammates to turn off the sound on the coms they were to be listening to while now SAC Tony Sheppard Paddington was in the field trying to get voice prints to hunt down a domestic terrorist.”
“Oh hell no,” Sonny swore, throwing in a few more colorful curses that had the entire team, including Blackburn and Davis who had snuck in late, nodding in agreement.
“You said her death?” Trent asked and Jason again was left a little shocked that another normally quiet team member spoke up.
“Yes, Ziva David was killed by me when she breached the Sheppard Family mansion, we assume in an attempt to kill Antony Sheppard Paddington.”
“That’s Jason’s new housemates, right?” Sonny drawled scowling. “The ones that let us party in their personal bar space? The ones that took Jason in and helped Nate’s family after he died? The guy Jason’s been all moony-eyed over, and we all hope he gets around to fuckin’ at the very least at some point in the very near future?”
“Jesus Christ, Sonny,” Clay uttered briefly burying his face in his hands as his shoulders shook with what Jason hoped was amusement.
When Seeley coughed, Jason quickly switched his glare from Sonny to his cousin, not pleased at the badly hidden glee on Seeley’s face. “Uhh, yes, Sonny that’s Tony and his family. Tony and Ziva never really got along, although Tony made an effort and at points thought they’d reached an understanding at least. Unfortunately, her actions led to consequences that she hadn’t foreseen including her own death and her father’s removal from Mossad.
“Since Eli’s ousting though, he’s been quite a headache stirring up the people he used to be responsible for catching and has become a big enough threat that everyone involved has said he needs to be removed no matter what it takes.”
“Removed,” Jason echoed tapping a finger against the table as his mind worked. “You aren’t talking capture here. And if Tony is involved in all of this, why isn’t he here? It seems like there’s a valuable source of intelligence that we aren’t getting access to.”
“No, we aren’t talking capture,” Eric said speaking up briefly as he stepped up to stand next to Booth again. “Bravo Team has been given approval for a sanctioned assassination of Eli David.”
Sonny whistled and the room broke out into quiet chaos as the team debated the rarity, which Jason allowed for a little while, but eventually felt the need to remind Blackburn and his cousin that he’d asked two questions.
From the expression on Seeley’s face, Jason could tell that whatever was about to come out, his cousin didn’t agree with, but was going along with anyway.
“Tony is the one bit that the Upper Brass hasn’t changed their minds about, but he is why you and even we all are here. Tony is not allowed to be part of his operation because of his personal ties to two of David’s closest associates. Their names are Anthony DiNozzo and Abigail Sciuto.”
“What do they have to do with Paddington?” Ray asked and Jason was grateful to his SIC for speaking up. He felt like he was forgetting something important about those names, and by the look of anger on Seeley’s face, Jason knew he wasn’t going to like what he heard.
“Anthony DiNozzo was the man who raised Tony. Up until about a year before Ziva’s death, Tony’s name was actually Anthony Dominic DiNozzo, Junior.”
“The Real Anthony DiNozzo,” Jason muttered angrily getting a nod from his cousin, and Jason was mentally smacking the shit out of himself for not having connected the dots quicker.
“Abigail Sciuto was the former Forensics Analyst for NCIS and before Ziva’s death apparently had some kind of a romantic relationship going on with her. At one time, Abby and Tony were pretty close, almost like brother and sister. So, given the connections, those that make the call have decided that Tony needs to remain uninvolved.
“Personally, I can tell you I still consider Eli David a threat, and while my opinions weren’t heard, I do feel better with Tony here safe on a US-based military base than traveling around with the team. Tony and I spent enough years tempting fate as it is. That being said though when an argument was made that if Tony couldn’t be involved then a SEAL team who would understand the personal aspect of this should be, they gave in.”
Jason sat tapping his finger on the tabletop as his mind whirled angrily at the implications and scenarios of this operation. Eventually, he came to the same place Seeley had, that while maybe Tony deserved to be involved, he’d probably be safer on base.
“Tell Aiden that as long as Metal is good with it, he has a spot with Bravo for this operation.”
“Amen, brother,” Ray chimed, and the rest of the team voiced their agreement making Jason smile in pride despite his anger. Jason and Tony had been slowly and quietly getting to know each other since Jason had moved into the beach mansion. While there was an instant sexual attraction, both seemed to want something longer lasting, and eventually decided to hold off on the sex until they felt they had an appropriate, lasting foundation built.
“So, to recap, Bravo and Alpha will be hunting down Eli David and dismantling his entire organization of assholes. Eli himself will end up with a bullet to the head. What are we doing with Voldemort and Cruella De Vil?”
This time it was Blackburn who coughed before speaking up. “DiNozzo and Sciuto are to be brought back to the US to face charges. Sciuto skipped out on bail after being arrested for assaulting a federal agent when she punched him during a temper tantrum. In addition, Brass would like Sciuto’s computer or computers to be recovered if possible. So, you’re going to have to be careful not to give her the time to destroy it or them. That actually was another factor in Aiden’s inclusion. He’s actually highly computer savvy and it was decided that his technological expertise could be handy.
“Now, NCIS has a list of targets. After they brief Alpha Team in an hour or so, we will get the two teams together and start planning. Because of the importance of this mission, I am going to echo ASAC Booth’s earlier words. Shut your traps! No sharing details with anyone. No hints to wives. No clues to parents. Keep your mouths shut. Bravo Team is being given a damned big honor here, and it’s my expectation that we show them why we are the best of the best.”
“That son’bitch’s days are numbered, I can promise you that,” Sonny drawled, earning himself a fist bump from Clay and echoed agreements from around the room.
Personally, Jason swore to himself that either he or Sheppard would be putting a bullet in that bastard’s brain. Tony deserved that, at the very least.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~
When Jason got home, he immediately went off in search of Tony finding him eventually sitting in a lounge chair on the deck outside his bedroom. Jason loved the bedrooms in the suites in this house. The outside walls in the corner suites were the kind that you could push back to open the whole wall up to the outside. Jason loved sleeping at night with the walls pushed back letting in the fresh ocean breeze and the sound of the surf.
Looking down at himself, Jason debated going to change, but his need to check on Tony was stronger than his need to be comfortable. Pausing, he couldn’t help but think back to the conversation that he’d had with Alana the last time he’d stopped in to bring the kids over for a weekend. She’d been asking questions about how things were going, and just quite frankly asked when he was going to shit or get off the pot where Tony was concerned.
It had forced a deeper conversation that he hadn’t been in the mood for, but in the end, she had made her point. Jason had really only one serious relationship in his life and that had been with her. While sure it was understandable that it might be hard to move on from, it wasn’t like the two of them hadn’t been separated for years before they got divorced. The fact that thus far everyone the kids had met in the Sheppard family had brought them into the fold, treating them as if they were their own while trying not to overstep Jason and Alana’s parental boundaries, meant a lot to not just Jason but Alana also.
After she’d gotten him thinking, Jason had spent the weekend considering his options and even stepped out for a couple hours to talk to Ray and get his opinion on the situation when his mind wouldn’t settle. When Ray had essentially echoed Alana’s statements, but going further to point out that Jason coped better when he had someone in his life to share not just his bed but his burdens with, he did better as a man and a leader.
He then went on to point out that there wouldn’t be the same limitations on what Jason could share with Tony as there had been with Alana. While it was true Tony wasn’t immediately read in on Jason’s missions being on the same base and sharing an equal if not possibly higher security clearance than Jason had would allow Jason to speak much more freely with Tony thus unburdening himself from some of the weight he carried on his shoulders.
Jason had been trying since then to figure out just what it was that drew Tony Paddington to him so quickly. Maybe it was the way he’d right from the start not only defended Seeley but made clear that he wouldn’t allow other’s opinions of Jason or Bravo team to stand in the way of him forming his own opinions. Then he’d gone out and done it. In fact, not only had he not let others determine what he thought of Jason and Bravo, he hadn’t let Jason determine what Tony thought of other teams. Beau Fuller and Charlie team were a perfect example.
While Jason and Beau hated each other like arch-enemies, Tony and Beau actually got along fairly well. Jason had even come across the two of them joking around once, and he’d almost fallen over his own feet when he’d not only seen Beau smile but laugh as well. Hell, Jason didn’t even know the stick shoved up Beau’s ass would allow him to smile or laugh. When he’d snarked that comment to Tony later, he’d only gotten an epic eye-roll and an offhand “it takes all kinds, Master Chief”, comment for his efforts.
Then there was the part where physically, Tony just made him lose his breath. Despite his run-in with the plague, and holy fuck the plague, Jason could tell that Tony made an effort to keep in physical shape. He and Seeley had even taken to occasionally showing up in the gym when Bravo was in there and their caseload allowed. Jason found out that the early Saturday morning disappearances that he’d been trying to figure out where Tony went, were Tony and Blackburn meeting up for an early morning run or hike through the hills.
All around him it seemed like the people in his life that meant the most to Jason were incorporating Tony into their lives whether Jason liked it or not. Frankly, that said more to him about if he should go forward and take a chance on a relationship than any of the lectures. The biggest two factors in Jason’s life at the moment were Bravo and his kids.
True to his word, Tony and Patrick had the two rooms reserved for the kids to be decorated however the kids wanted. Emma’s was teal blue, with not a single drop of pink because his daughter loathed pink and had a computer with software that helped her to write her own songs.
Mikey’s room was hockey-themed just like his son wanted, and Jason learned that not only Patrick but even Gibbs had started to learn about the sport. The two had even shown up at Mikey’s last home game cheering as loud as anyone when Mikey scored the game-winning goal in overtime.
Then there was the Patrick conversation. Early one morning, Jason had been coming in from base where he’d been helping another team plan a mission and ran into Patrick and Gibbs who were up early because they needed to go to DC for a few days. Patrick had just quietly but frankly told Jason that Emma and Mikey were wonderful children. He’d then told him that he had a shit ton of money that couldn’t be spent in 7 generations and that he’d like to set up educational funds for Jason’s two children.
It wasn’t him trying to interfere in Jason and Alana’s parental responsibilities. It was Patrick recognizing that military families generally didn’t have a lot of money. Let alone the funds to cover the dreams Emma and Mikey both had. He on the other hand had more money than he knew what to do with and wanted to help. Doing so would free up Jason and Alana’s limited funds for other things their family needed.
Jason had said they would think about it, and after another long conversation with Alana decided to take him up on the offer. As Alana pointed out, he wasn’t throwing wild money at the kids and trying to spoil them rotten. If something came up while the kids were at the mansion, he’d thus far either tried to let Jason handle it or had tried to do what they thought was appropriate and discussed it with Jason later.
Jason had to admit that at this point the only thing holding him back from the relationship with Tony that he wanted was Jason himself. And really, Jason wanted. He was willing to admit at that point that yeah, he wanted a lot. He wanted Tony in a way that he’d only ever wanted Alana, and maybe that was what was freaking him out.
It wasn’t like he’d only ever been sexually attracted to women or even just Alana. But he’d mostly only done quickies or a one-night stand. Meaningless relationships he knew weren’t going anywhere but could scratch an itch. Then his cousin Seeley came back into his life and brought this NCIS agent with him that had nearly brought Jason to his knees.
The first time he’d seen Tony in person standing in Harrington’s office, Jason was glad Seeley was standing in front of him. Because the way he immediately jumped to Seeley’s defense and had no cares about Harrington’s rank almost made Jason hard. The fact that he would go to bat with the Base CO that he was just meeting for someone so vital to Jason’s life and mental wellbeing was everything.
“I can feel you lurking,” Tony said just loud enough that Jason could just barely hear his voice over the sound of the waves. Smiling faintly, the Master Chief crossed the length of the room that separated them and found himself leaning against the railing in front of Tony.
“Has anyone ever told you that you make olive green look incredibly sexy?” Tony asked tilting his head to one side and Jason couldn’t help but offer a wide grin.
“Seriously, I look forward to the day you’re running around as this silver fox, beard intact by the way. ‘Cause if I had my way you’d always be in a beard.”
“You like the beard, huh?” Jason parroted and Tony just nodded lifting a beer bottle and taking a sip.
“There’s a mini bar in there with your favorite brand in the fridge by the way. I uhh I kinda stocked up for you just in case.”
“Yeah?” Jason asked moving out to where he’d seen the wet bar in the outer part of the suite grabbing his beer and then headed back to Tony.
“Thanks, for this I need it. How are you doing with this? I mean I kinda get why you can’t be involved, but at the same time it feels like they’re shooting themselves in the foot at least not letting you be part of the initial stuff when we’re here on base.”
Jason watched Tony’s eyes shift away from him back out to the ocean. “I want to be involved, but at the same time, I don’t, to be honest. Senior…. I could care what happens to him. Honestly. I don’t give a fuck. I made my peace with him the day I change my name to Antony Sheppard Paddington. Abby though…”
Jason could see the expression on Tony’s face change from pensive to sad. “Abby was literally like my sister at one point in our careers. We were as close as co-workers could be who aren’t married. We hung out together during our off time. We shared secrets. I thought of her as family and let her convince me that her idea of family was what it should be.
“Then at some point, I think that she went off the rails and somehow I just didn’t notice. I dunno. Gibbs tells me I can’t take what happened to Abby on myself, but at the same time, I guess it’s like what you were saying about Nate, right? I mean I wasn’t her boss, but I was supposed to be her friend, and I just didn’t notice that things weren’t right. Or if I did, sometimes I just let things slide because it felt easier or less confrontational. Like, I was too worried about losing her friendship than making sure she was ok. What kind of person does that?”
“The question is why, if she was your friend, did she put you in that position? Like, you weren’t the only person around her that knew her like that. It sounds like your team was tight. No one else said anything either. So, how is it on you? Maybe you should have said something, and I get that because you didn’t that’s why you feel sad. At the same time, does she deserve to have this much power over you still? After how long?”
“I know. I’ve tried coming to terms with it. But the thing is that it’s this constant thing that’s always there. Patrick has had to hire someone to constantly monitor my digital life. Like one of Raven’s former co-workers now works full time for Sheppard Industries and his primary job is to make sure that she doesn’t mess up my life or Seeley’s life electronically anymore.”
“So, basically, you can’t move on because she won’t let you move on. You do realize that that is a different situation than you not moving on because you just won’t, right? Wounds don’t heal if someone is constantly running a knife over the same damned cut all the time.”
Jason watched Tony nod his understanding before his soulful hazel eyes were turned back in Jason’s direction. “That’s why I need Bravo to finish this, Jason. As much as I want to be involved, like I said equally I don’t. Just, catch them. Kill Eli. Put Senior and Abby in prison. Try not to… they’re gonna say things, Jason. They’re gonna tell you guys all sorts of shit if they find out you know me. Just…”
“Tony,” Jason said cutting him off before he moved to kneel down at Tony’s side. “Tony, this isn’t our first rodeo. They’re the bad guys. You’re the good guy. It’s pretty black and white for us. You’re not just some guy on base. You’re family. You’re Bravo. Bottom line. Nothing they say can change that. My team has decided that they’re tired of waiting on me to make a decision and made it for me. Hell, Sonny told me he was tired of my moony eyes today in the briefing.”
Tony’s lips twitched at that and Jason cheered in his head a little at the sight. “I’ll be honest, I like Sonny. His antics amuse me more than maybe they should. I think I like the sound of being part of Bravo Team’s family. That means I am yours. I think I like the sound of that a lot.”
“Yeah?” Jason questioned taking Tony’s hand in his own. “I think I like the sound of it too. I was thinking maybe we should take the next step. My team seems to think I need to get laid, and I have been told I center my whole life around what they want so….”
Tony grinned big finishing the beer in his bottle before swinging his feet over the edge and standing. “I am all about the team life, man. I say we give Bravo what it wants.”
Grinning, Jason leaned in to capture Tony’s lips for their first kiss before dragging Tony back inside to the bed. The next morning, as he was laying, naked under the sheets watching Tony sleep, he thought he liked the view from Tony’s room as the sun was coming up, even better than in his own.
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!