Adrift No More: Parts 1-4

Status:
  • Complete
Content Rating:
  • NC-17
Fandom(s):
Criminal Minds, NCIS, Stargate: SG1, Stargate: Atlantis

Relationship(s):
Aaron Hotchner/Anthony DiNozzo, Spencer Reid/Anthony DiNozzo, John Sheppard/Anthony DiNozzo, Spencer Reid/Rodney McKay

Warning(s):
  • Death - Major Character
  • Discussion - Murder
  • Explicit Sex
  • Murder
  • Violence - Canon-Level
Genre(s):
  • Angst
  • BDSM
  • Challenge Response
  • Crossover
  • Drama
  • Hurt/Comfort
  • Romance
  • Science Fiction
  • Slash
Word Count:
20,056/54,896

Author's Note:
This story is in response to the NCIS Reverse Big Bang. The lovely banner was done by penumbria. The story is about grief and grief recovery. It's Tony's journey of loss and healing. Beta'd by DarkJediQueen and SpencerTibbsLvr. And last, Spencer is a Sheppard in this story.

Summary:
Tony is a collard Sub who has lost the most important person in his life, his Dom. Now faced with being a single father he has to decide what is best for him and Jack. No longer feeling safe at NCIS, when an opportunity comes along from an old acquaintance, Tony jumps at the chance. Making a life on Atlantis won't be easy for either himself or his son, but it just may be the best decision he could have made, all because of one Colonel John Sheppard.


Tony Collardbanner by: penumbria

 

Part 1

“I don’t like you doing this, Tone,” Aaron said as he cupped Tony’s cheek and laid his forehead on his Subs.

“You know the motto Aaron, never leave a man behind.”

“You don’t even like Ziva.”

“My feelings for Ziva are complicated, you know that. I know Gibbs chose me in Israel, and I’ll forever be grateful because he brought me back to you. I don’t even want to know what you would have done to him if he hadn’t.”

Aaron’s expression went flat and cold. He knew exactly what he would have done, and it probably would have ruined his career, but Tony was more important. Always would be. Aaron swallowed and pressed his lips together trying to understand his Subs motives, but Tony was an infinitely more complicated man than his team ever gave him credit for.

“No, you really don’t want to know.” Aaron closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “I would have burned NCIS to the ground.”

Tony had absolutely no doubt that Aaron would do exactly what he said. While he knew the man had loved his ex-wife, it was nothing compared to what Tony knew Aaron felt for him. There wasn’t even a comparison. He ought to know because he felt the same.

“I promise, I will come back to you and Jack.”

“Be careful. I can’t ask you not to get hurt, because I know you too well, just come back in one piece.”

Tony smiled and chuckled softly as he kissed Aaron. And as things were about to get good, because morning sex with Aaron was always worth it, his Dom’s phone went off.

“Terrible timing.”

“Always is.”

Aaron rolled off Tony and grabbed his phone. As he talked, Tony stood and went to take a shower and get dressed. He moved to the living room where Jack was already up. Grabbing the boy in his arms, Tony took him to his room to get him ready for daycare.

“Well, this is interesting.” Aaron came out of the bedroom by the time that Tony had Jack ready and some quick breakfast on the counter.

“What is it?”

“Apparently a former Marine decided to ram his car into the Canadian border patrol and is confessing to a large number of murders. The RCMP is asking for a consult.”

“That doesn’t sound right at all.”

“No, no it doesn’t, and we have to get to the bottom of what motivated the suspect to do this. I’ll call you and let you know what’s going on. And, Tony?”

“I know, be careful.” A quick kiss and Aaron was out the door. It would be the last time Tony saw his Dom alive.

“Tony.” The hand on his shoulder and the calm voice next to him were the only things holding him together as he looked down at the face of the man he loved. Fighting himself he looked up at the medical examiner, wishing like hell that it was Ducky, and nodded.

“Yes, that’s Aaron.” His voice broke as he said Aaron’s name, then pulled out of Gibbs’s hold on him and strode out of the room. He didn’t want to look anymore, he was barely holding the pain and guilt inside him. He cursed himself, he cursed NCIS, he cursed fucking Ziva and his goddamn guilty conscious for leaving her behind in Israel.

Tony collapsed on a bench outside the room that Aaron would never leave. He was bent over, holding his face in his hands and shaking with the barely controlled emotions he was keeping inside.

“Tony.” Gibbs crouched in front of him and laid a hand on his knee. “This isn’t your fault, Tony.”

“Isn’t it?” Tony’s head came up, and he looked Gibbs in the eye. He had not realized that tears fell as his breath quickened. He fisted his hands on his thighs, his whole body tense. “I left to find fucking Ziva when I should have been here. If I had that bastard wouldn’t have come anywhere near Aaron. How am I not responsible?”

“Because you couldn’t have known, DiNozzo. There wasn’t any way for you to know that Foyet would show up like that.”

“Why the fuck are you being so goddamned reasonable.” Tony was furious. At Foyet, at the BAU, at himself, at the whole fucked up situation. He wasn’t sure if he could take this Gibbs. This nice Gibbs. He wanted the bastard, Gibbs, telling him he fucked up, hell he would even take a head slap right about now.

A harsh laugh came out of him as he thought about the first time Aaron had witnessed a Gibbs head slap. He thought the man was going to tear Gibbs a new one and made it very clear to Gibbs that if he ever touched Tony in any way ever again, Aaron would ruin him. Tony had no doubt that he could. That one memory, for some reason, made him laugh. But even he knew it sounded a little maniacal, and before long that laugh turned into a sob that ripped right from the very soul of him. Gibbs reached out, and Tony felt himself being pulled down into Gibbs lap. Normally, he’d fight, not wanting to be taken care of like that, but this time, he didn’t have the energy to fight. Tony let himself break, and by the time he was done the others had shown up. Aaron’s team, those closest to him and he just couldn’t deal with them.

“It’s true?” Tony looked toward the voice and saw Spencer standing there, holding himself around the middle, devastation on his face.

Tony took a deep breath and touched his collar to try to center himself. He pulled away from Gibbs, knowing that he wasn’t going to accept that level of comfort from the man again. He stood and looked at the faces of his lover’s team and wiped his face.

“Yes. It’s Aaron, and it was the Reaper.” Tony steeled himself as the others stood there in shock. He felt eyes on him and turned to see who it was. Rossi was looking at him, but Tony couldn’t decipher that look. “I’m sorry, I should have…” The words weren’t even out of his mouth when he was engulfed in surprisingly strong arms.

“It is not your fault Tony,” Spencer whispered in his ear and held him for a moment before he pulled away. Then each member of the team did the same. Tried to reassure him that it wasn’t his fault, but Tony couldn’t help the guilt that settled deep in his heart. At this moment he hated himself, but he hated Ziva even more.

“I should have been there Spencer. I should have listened to Aaron.”

“Tony, he understood why you did what you did.” Emily Prentiss took his hand and tried to reassure him. He knew none of them would blame him, but he would always blame himself.

“I ah, I need to go. I have to talk to Jack.” Just saying the little boy’s name had Tony close to hyperventilating. He had no idea how he was going to tell a four-year-old his father was never coming home. Not when Jack saw Aaron as a superhero that always came back, no matter what. That was another thing Tony was going to feel guilty about. He knew it was irrational, but he just couldn’t help it.

“Let me take you, Tony,” Gibbs said before anyone else could offer. Not wanting to fight, Tony just nodded his head, then a moment later his boss was leading him to his car. Tony didn’t even care or make a comment about Gibbs driving skills. In the larger scheme of things he just didn’t care.

When they got to the daycare center, Tony had shored up his feelings. He took Jack out, and the boy didn’t ask questions. Tony was thankful for small mercies. When they finally got home, Gibbs followed him into the house, Tony didn’t know how he was going to tell Jack.

Picking up the four-year-old in his arms, Tony sat with him in the chair they used for story time. Jack cuddled on his lap, and Tony told him what happened. Tony was thankful that Jack had never really known his mother, though Aaron had tried to make her real for Jack. The complications from the pregnancy had gotten worse the closer she was to delivering Jack. Losing Haley had been a huge blow to Aaron, but he did everything he could to be a good father to newborn Jack. Tony and Aaron had been in a platonic Dom/Sub relationship already, with Haley’s blessing. Then after her death during Jack’s birth, they grew closer, and intimacy and sex slowly started between them. When Aaron asked Tony about a collar, there was no hesitation on his part. He said yes, and Tony had found the family he had always been craving.

Tony had always said he hated children, but that wasn’t entirely accurate. Jack had won him over, and though he was still uncomfortable around other people’s children, Jack would always have his heart. And now, he was going to break that heart.

Jack cried himself out and fell asleep against Tony. Gibbs had stayed, and Tony was conflicted. He wanted to be alone, just him and his son, but on a deeper level, he was grateful that Gibbs was there.

“I’m going to put him to bed. I’m not ready to talk about this. I need time Gibbs.”

“I know Dinozzo.”

“So, you can go home.”

“Not going to happen.”

“Please, Boss? I can’t deal with you right now. I need time alone.”

“Tony…”

“No, please,” Tony didn’t want to beg, but he would. He needed to be alone. Tony needed to grieve in his own way, and he couldn’t deal with his grief with someone else there. He had already let himself be vulnerable around Gibbs, and that was a dangerous thing for him. Tony once had an attraction to the older man, and if it hadn’t been for Aaron, Tony thought that maybe Gibbs would have tried something, but he never did. When Tony met Aaron, that was it. Even in their platonic phase, Tony was ridiculously attracted to Aaron and thoughts of anything with Gibbs was buried deep. It was too soon for Tony to accept comfort from Gibbs because that was a slippery slope that Tony didn’t want to find himself on. He hoped the Dom wouldn’t press the issue.

“Alright. You need anything you call.” Gibbs stood, and Tony could see the reluctance on his face. The man was a Dom down to his very core, and Tony knew all he saw was a Sub in pain. Right now, though, he didn’t want to think about that. He was just a man who lost the love of his life. “Tony, this wasn’t your fault. Even if you were here, there isn’t any guarantee he wouldn’t have tried something else.”

“Doesn’t matter. I wasn’t here, and now Aaron’s dead, and it’s partly my fault. Don’t, Gibbs. Don’t try to make me not feel guilty about this because I will always feel guilty about this.” And at that moment, Tony had a small insight into why his boss held onto his dead wife and daughter so hard. The guilt he felt, and the pain. He wouldn’t bring it up, though, as Shannon was a very delicate subject for Gibbs.

Gibbs just nodded before he made his way out the door and then Tony was alone. Closing his eyes as he touched his collar grounded him for just a moment. Tomy made his way into his bedroom and collapsed. He grabbed Aaron’s pillow, the one that still smelled like him, still had remnants of his favored cologne, and that underlying scent that was all Aaron. Tony curled around that pillow and let himself grieve.

__________

Planning a funeral was one of the hardest things Tony had to deal with. He never thought it would be so soon. Tony and Aaron had so many plans for their life together, and it was all cut down. Tony was numb through the whole process, and while Gibbs had helped him through it, he felt so very alone.

Somehow Senior had found out about the whole thing, but he didn’t want him there. He told his father to stay wherever he was, that he didn’t want him at the funeral. Especially after Senior’s refusal to come to Tony’s collaring ceremony. He wanted absolutely nothing to do with his father.

Standing at the head of the grave, Tony’s hands shook just a little as he held the written eulogy in his hands. Clearing his throat, he looked out at the people that were there. Friends, the family that Aaron had made with his team, and even Jessica Brooks, Haley’s sister. She had shown up to lend her support.

“When Aaron and I first met, it was during a meet and greet at our training house. We hit it off right away, and even though our relationship was platonic at first, there was always an attraction. When his wife died in childbirth, I was surprised he turned to me, but happy also. It had been an easy decision to accept his collar, and I will never regret one single day we were together.

“Despite what some people believed, Aaron had a wicked sense of humor. You just needed to know how to bring it out, and how to listen to him. He was too serious at times, took too much on himself, and I was proud that I could be his solace.” Tony’s voice cracked as he looked at the paper in his hand, tears clouded his vision, but he held them back, pulling on his own inner strength to just get through the next few hours. “He often laughed at the Agent No-Smile moniker he had been given. But, Aaron was the best of us. Strong, loyal, confident, and a heart that would sometimes break in the privacy of our home over the things he had seen. He was a loving father and tried his very best to give Jack a good home, a loving home. Even though Jack had never met his mother, Aaron did his best to keep her alive for him.

“He loved to run, it was one of those things that brought him real peace. He loved music. I don’t know if anyone else knew this, but he played the guitar. His favorite all time band was the Beetles. His favorite Beetle was George Harrison. We would often play together, me on the piano, him on his Gibson, and the look on his face…he was beautiful. He kept me centered, he respected me, while he pushed me to my limits, then pushed just a little more making me believe in myself, as a lover, as his Sub, and as a person. It was his encouragement that I went back to school and finished my degree. I probably never would have without him.

“Aaron,” Tony’s voice quivered for a moment as he took a deep breath and looked, for the first time at the casket before him. “He was the heart of me, and I know I will never be the same.”

Tony was finished. He couldn’t say anymore as he moved off to the side, letting the others have their say about the man they all cared about. He knew that Spencer wasn’t going to be able to say anything. Aaron had been like a big brother to him and often protected him. Aaron, more than anyone else on the team, understood Spencer. Tony knew the man was grieving hard, but his own guilt held him back from offering comfort.

When it was over, and the casket lowered, Tony felt like his heart was being buried as well. Holding Jack in his arms, Tony stood there, staring, trying not to feel. He wasn’t sure how long he was there, Jack was getting heavy in his arms, but he didn’t care. The sun was slowly setting, and still, he didn’t care. He knew he should be at the reception, that it was expected of him, but he was having the hardest time moving from that spot.

“Tony,” Gibbs called out as he walked up next to him. “You have to go Tony. You can’t stay here.”

Taking a shuddering breath, he nodded, knowing Gibbs was right.

“Blow a kiss to Daddy, Jack.”

Jack kissed his fingers then blew on them, he then kissed them again and held his hand out for Tony. Swallowing past the lump in his throat, Tony gently blew.

“Bye Daddy,” Jack whispered as he laid his head on Tony’s shoulder. Taking another moment, Tony said a silent I love you and a goodbye. Turning, Tony let himself be led away from Aaron’s grave.

When they got to Gibbs car, Tony put Jack in his car seat, then got in the front. He stared ahead, silent while Gibbs drove. He needed the time to shore himself up before having to be somewhat social.

The reception hall was full of mourners, and well wishers and all Tony wanted to do was yell at them to just go the fuck home. He knew it was selfish, so he kept his own counsel, held his head up and did his duty.

“Tony, I’m…” Ziva was in front of him, and Tony felt the anger at her rise up. He could actually feel his face going cold and flat.

“If you say that you’re sorry, I swear you will not like what I have to say to you.”

“Maybe you now know how I feel.”

The low growl that came out of Tony’s throat surprised even him.

“This is nothing like you and Rivkin, and if you even dare compare your traitorous boyfriend to Aaron, I swear to God Ziva David you will not like what I have to say. I may have saved your life, but I lost more than you can imagine. So, back the fuck off.” Tony glared at the woman who frowned at Tony, then looked like she thought better of what she was going to say. She took one last look at Tony and walked away.

Tony moved stiffly through the crowd but always keeping his eye on Jack, who was currently being watched over by JJ and Penelope Garcia. Knowing his son was safe, Tony felt comfortable leaving him for the moment as he walked out onto the wide balcony, looking out on the grounds of the cemetery.

He was thankfully alone for a while, till he felt someone come to stand next to him, trying to hand him a glass of alcohol. Tony took the glass then turned his head to see who it was.

“Dave.” Tony raised his glass and tipped it towards the cemetery then took a drink.

“Tony, if there is anything you need.”

“What I need is to find the bastard and get justice for Aaron.”

Tony knew Dave was scrutinizing him.

“Don’t do anything stupid, Tony. That little boy needs you.”

“Oh Dave, don’t worry. If I did anything, I wouldn’t get caught.” Tony didn’t even try to hide what he was feeling from Dave. They stared at each other for a few moments before Dave just shook his head and walked off. A short time later Jessica brought Jack back to him. Tony picked him up and sat down on the stone bench that wrapped around the balcony.

“Hey, buddy.”

“Papa. I miss Daddy.” Jack leaned into Tony as he held the boy close.

“I know Figlio. I miss him too.” Tony kissed the top of Jack’s head and felt the little boy let out a sigh.

“I wanna go home.”

“We will baby. I just have to say goodbye to a few people.”

“Okay.”

Tony stood and made his way to the group, saying his goodbyes. He found Gibbs and asked him to be taken home. The drive was solemn, and once again Tony was glad that Gibbs didn’t mind the silence. It had been a stressful, emotional day, and Tony just wanted to go to sleep.

After getting inside, Tony immediately put Jack to bed, who had fallen asleep in the car. He thanked Gibbs then saw him out before turning to his room. Tony stripped and crawled into bed, trying to stave off the depression he felt coming. Tony just kept telling himself he had to be strong for Jack.

__________

Tony was surprised over the next couple of days how Jessica wanted to help out. He knew she felt guilty for not being in Jack’s life, so he didn’t keep the boy from her. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise because Vance wanted to talk to him. Tony didn’t want to go into the office, so he told the Director he had to come to the house.

Dressing carefully, Tony had coffee ready, and Jessica came early to take Jack for the day. Looking around the living room, Tony again thought about selling the house, the memories of his life with Aaron were sometimes too much. The knock on the door brought him out of memories, and Tony adjusted the collar before going to open the door. Tony wasn’t sure if he was going to take it off or not. He wasn’t sure he could.

Opening the door Tony didn’t even try to plaster on a fake smile, it would take too much effort on his part.

“Director, thank you for coming.”

“DiNozzo.” Tony held the door open and let Vance inside.

“Would you like some coffee?”

“You don’t have to.”

“No trouble, it’s already made.” Tony led Vance to the kitchen and gestured to the table in the nook. They each took a seat, and Tony poured coffee from a carafe and passed a cup to Vance.

“DiNozzo…Tony, I didn’t get to say I’m sorry for what you are going through. I cannot imagine it myself.”

Tony was suspicious of Vance’s motivations and why he wanted to talk to him, but he would hear the man out.

“Thank you. It is appreciated.”

“I didn’t know you were finishing a degree.”

“You haven’t ever actually read my personnel file, have you, Director?” Tony’s mouth formed a smile, but it wasn’t a happy one.

“I did. After the funeral. And I want to say that I’m sorry Tony. I didn’t look at your file, and I made snap judgments that kept you in that box I had created for you. I, sadly, didn’t know you had gotten a doctorate.”

Tony sipped his coffee, thankful that Jack wasn’t around to hear this conversation because he didn’t think it was going to go well.

“You believed I got Jenny killed when it was a suicide mission right from the beginning. You also didn’t read my after action reports regarding the Benoit fiasco. Aaron and I were still platonic at that point, but he was the one to talk me through it all. I was used. I’m still being used, and frankly, I’m tired of it.”

“It’s why I’m here. NCIS is prepared to offer you a generous retirement package. I know you have a young son to raise and suddenly becoming a single parent can’t be easy.”

Tony sat back and stared at Vance. Tilting his head down he huffed and couldn’t really believe what he was hearing.

“No.”

“DiNozzo…”

“No! I am not going to retire. You’ll have to get rid of me another way, and this isn’t it. I’m sorry to ruin your little plan Director, but I need to keep my life as normal as possible. It will hurt my son and me if too many changes happen too fast.”

“That’s your choice of course.”

“Of course.”

“You’ll have to come in and change your status.”

“No.”

“DiNozzo.”

“I am not changing my status from collared. It’s too fucking soon Vance. Jesus Christ, I just lost my partner, the man I thought I would spend my entire life with is gone. It’s only been days, Director, so no as far as I’m concerned I am still Aaron’s collared Sub.” Tony glared at Vance and dared him to say anything different.

Vance looked like he wanted to say more, but didn’t.

“Then take some time, come back when you are ready.”

“I will. I don’t think I need to see you out, do I?”

Vance stood and looked sadly at Tony. He had nothing more to say, and Tony wasn’t going to let him anyway. He watched as Vance left and Tony knew there was a lot to do, but he just didn’t have the energy to do it. Standing up Tony went to rinse out the cups and just stood there. Too much to do and not really enough time to do it.

The reading of the will was in a few days, and that was another thing Tony wasn’t looking forward to. The rest of the day was a day where Tony indulged in being lazy. He didn’t think he could actually make any decisions about his life as of yet. The only thing he knew was to take it each day as it came.

__________

Tony walked into NCIS almost three weeks after he buried Aaron. He was still off-kilter and probably would be for months. This wasn’t something Tony was ‘just going to get over’ like he was supposed to do with Jeanne. He had hated leaving Jack, but Jessica had stepped up and said she wanted to help. She wasn’t collared and had no commitments, and her job was flexible enough that she could work at home and watch the boy. The morning hadn’t gone well as Jack clung to him, not wanting to let him go.

As he was getting himself settled, he felt someone near his desk. He looked up to see Abby standing there.

“You’re in early Abbs.”

“I wanted to see you. We didn’t get to talk at…well you know.” Abby scrunched up her face as she held out a Tupperware to him. “I made this for you. Your favorite peanut butter, chocolate chip brownies.”

Tony smiled and didn’t have the heart to tell her that they were actually Aaron’s favorite. He would bring them home, and before Jack and Tony could get one, they would end up all gone. Aaron would blush and give Tony a smirk before kissing him stupid. Taking a deep breath, he took the Tupperware and set it on his desk.

“Thank you, Abby.” Tony stood and pulled the young Switch into his arms. “I appreciate it.”

“You know I’m here for you Tony.”

“I know. I just need to have something normal in my life right now. So, I’m going to get to work, but thank you.”

Abby kissed his cheek then bounced away on her too tall Doc Martins. It made him chuckle slightly to see that some things hadn’t changed. His world might have shattered, but there was still some good around him. As he sat back down Tony touched the collar and closed his eyes. He knew the gesture was born out of anxiety and having his world blown apart, but it grounded him, made him remember that he had been loved.

Shaking himself out of the memories, Tony turned to his desk and let himself get lost in work. It was a couple of hours before the others had made it in, but Tony just kept his head down and kept working.

“Tony.” He looked up at Ziva and didn’t even try to hide his feelings. “I am sorry for what I said to you at the reception. It was inappropriate. I am sorry for your loss.”

Tony sat back and couldn’t help assessing the woman in front of him. He wanted to be petty, wanted to throw her condolences back in her face, but truthfully he just didn’t have the energy. Taking a deep breath, he nodded.

“Thank you. Now, I have a lot of work to catch up on.” The cold tone Tony hoped would make her back off, he didn’t want to deal with Ziva and all of her crap at the moment. When she moved back to her desk, he looked at her through slitted eyes and saw her going right to work. Gone were the days of friendly, flirty banter. He was done with her that way. He knew it was partially irrational, that he shouldn’t have felt guilty for leaving her in Israel in the first place, but he did.

“Tony!” Tim looked like he wasn’t sure if he wanted to smile, or if he wanted to show sympathy. The expression was a weird combination of both. “I’m glad you’re back.”

Tony stood and smiled. Though he and Tim had a rocky relationship lately, the man had come through for him when it really counted. He had come by at night to have dinner and talk, really talk like they had used to. Some days Spencer even showed up, and the three of them became closer than they had been. Tony, though, was worried about Spencer. The Genius looked worse than Tony had ever seen him, and it didn’t go unnoticed how he was scratching and holding his elbow. On those nights, Tony let him stay over, hoping to keep him from doing something stupid. Some nights he woke with Spencer curled up next to him trying to find some comfort.

“Thanks, McGee.” Tony just smiled at him and sat back down, he didn’t even have the energy to pretend to be happy.

“If you need anything…” Tim trailed off and stood there, slightly uncomfortable.

“I know, Timmy.” Tony stood and had a couple of folders in his hands. He needed to get out of there for a few moments, and hoping to ground himself, he decided to go see Ducky. “I need to go see Ducky, when Gibbs gets here, tell him I’m down in Autopsy.”

“I will.” Tim sat down, and Tony couldn’t help feeling eyes on him as he walked away. When he got the elevator and pushed the down button, he swallowed down the anxiety he was feeling being back. The elevator opened, and he stood there a moment before he shook himself out of the fugue state he almost had fallen into. Stepping into the elevator, he pushed the button to the appropriate floor and sighed.

When he walked into Autopsy, he almost walked back out again. He wondered how long it was going to be for him to be comfortable in the room again. When he stepped past the automatic doors, his heart started to race, and he felt the blood rushing in his ears. His breathing shallowed, and he felt like he was going to pass out.

“Oh dear, Tony my boy, why don’t you come sit down?” Tony didn’t even see Ducky in the room till he felt the older man grab his elbow and lead him to the desk chair. Tony sat down, almost on autopilot. “Stay right there.” Ducky laid a hand on his shoulder, grounding him. He just looked up and nodded his head.

Ducky moved away, and Tony put his head between his hands and tried to get control of himself. A moment later and a cold glass was being pressed into one of his hands.

“Drink this. It’s just water.” Ducky had grabbed another chair and sat in front of Tony.

“Thanks, Duck,” Tony said after he finished it off.

“Are you sure you are ready to be back here, Anthony? I cannot imagine what you are experiencing. Just know that if you need a shoulder, I am always here.”

Tony took a deep breath and felt more grounded than he had in awhile.

“I appreciate it, Ducky. It’s just…I didn’t think it was going to hit me so hard coming here. I ah…I came to ask about these cases.” Tony opened the file and got down to business. He was grateful that Ducky didn’t push him, and he made the notes he needed before he stood and went back to his desk.

The rest of the day progressed, and slowly Tony was feeling better in his own skin. When it got late, he left with no arguments from Gibbs. The only thing he was sorry about was that he hadn’t seen Palmer, he had missed him, and would try to catch up with him at a later date.

Getting home to the empty house was surreal, and Tony hated the fact that he would get used to it as time went on. The saving grace was when Jessica brought Jack home, and the three of them had dinner together. Making homemade pasta and roasted chicken with vegetables helped to settle him even more. After dinner was bathtime, then a movie, and storytime. But, before Tony tucked Jack into bed, he sat with him, and they both talked to Aaron about their day. Tony knew it fell on deaf ears, but the nightly routine helped the both of them and Tony was loathed to stop it. After giving Jack a kiss on the forehead, Tony went to his office and worked. Insomnia was the new normal for him as of late, and instead of fighting it, he just went with it. He knew eventually he would collapse and sleep, but for now, he worked. And that work was finding Foyet.

__________

Part 2

What no one tells you or makes you understand is that when you lose that person you love, the one who meant everything to you that the day to day shit was infinitely much harder than you could ever know. Tony was learning this one day at a time.

His alarm had gone off, and he hit the snooze, then turned in bed expecting, in his fuzzy mind, for his lover to be there. Every morning since the funeral had been like this. Waking up, a slight smile, then turning on his side expecting to see Aaron’s smiling face, then reality slamming back inside of him. He grabbed the pillow that still smelled like Aaron, though it was fading as each day passed. He curled around the pillow and dug deep inside to find the will to leave the bed.

Finally, he would sit up, touch his collar and close his eyes. The day that Aaron had given it to him, the love and joy between them as they held a party where he collared Tony with their closest friends in attendance. It was the memory that got him out of bed every day. Showers were quick, lingering meant memories of mornings being pushed against the tiled wall and Aaron fucking him, slow or fast depending on how they felt that morning. The words of love slipping from their lips, reaffirming what it was they had between them. He stepped out of the warm shower to stand in front of the mirror and took a deep breath, trying to find his center again and nothing worked. There was a part of him that considered going to Byron House and asking for seclusion. Then those thoughts would be dashed because he couldn’t leave Jack.

Tony started going through the motions of getting ready, then going into Jack’s room to get the boy up and ready for school. Some days, like today, Tony stood in the doorway, shaking with all of his repressed grief and guilt, and wished the peaceful look on Jack’s face would carry over to when he woke, but the reality was, they were both hurting, deeply. It took him a few moments to get himself under control enough that he could help Jack dress.

Mealtimes had become the hardest, and today was no exception. Tony set the plates out as he worked on making pancakes and eggs. When he realized there were three plates instead of two, he gripped the counter, turned off the stove and slipped down to the floor. Tony sat back against the cabinets with his knees pulled up to his chest and his head in his hands. He felt little hands on his head, patting him and it about broke him.

He uncurled from his position and let Jack crawl into his lap. Father and son wrapped around each other, trying to comfort one another.

“Love you, Papa.” Jack sniffed as he laid his head on Tony’s chest.

“I love you too, Little Man.” Tony took a shaky breath as they sat together on the floor trying to understand how to take the next steps.

“I miss Daddy.” Jack held onto Tony as tightly as he could.

“I know Figlio. I miss Daddy too.” There wasn’t anything else to say. Breakfast now cold and forgotten, Tony knew they needed to move, he was just trying to find the strength to let Jack go.

Tony didn’t even flinch when the front door opened and a moment later Jessica was coming into the kitchen. She bent down and bussed a kiss against Tony’s forehead, then laid a hand on Jack’s back, trying to give them something they could hold onto. Tony let Jack go, and Jessica picked him up, no words needed to be exchanged.

“Hey, Jackers, why don’t we get your things and I’ll take you to McDonald’s and get you some pancakes.”

“Papa?”

“I’ll be okay, kiddo. Go with your Aunt Jessica.”

“I’ll be back Tony.”

Tony snorted and considered a quip about killer robots and Arnold Schwarzenegger, but he didn’t even have the energy for that. He just nodded his head and watched as the woman left with Jack. Tony didn’t move. His mind was empty as he stared at the counter opposite him. He didn’t know what to do, what move to make, everything was just so wrong.

He was startled out of his thoughts when a hand was laid on his knee and looked to the side to see that Jessica had indeed come back.

“Come on, Tony. I brought you something to eat.”

Tony just nodded as he stood and followed Jessica out to the nook in the corner of the kitchen. He slipped into the small bench seat and saw that a sandwich, coffee, and hash browns waited for him. Jessica sat opposite and sipped the coffee she had bought for herself.

“Thank  you.” Tony took a sip of the coffee then leaned back closing his eyes. “For everything Jessica. For helping with Jack.”

“I’m happy to do it. I just wish I had been around sooner. It was my own grief and anger over Haley’s death, and it was unfair to you and Aaron.”

“He never blamed you. He wanted you to know Jack, but he wanted to give you the time.”

Jessica nodded then reached across the table and laid her hand over Tony’s.

“I’m here to help for whatever you need Tony.”

“I’m…” Tony ate by rote knowing he needed something in his stomach. He didn’t even really taste the food. It was just something to help him refuel. “I’m not handling this at all.”

“No one says you should. No one says that you need to feel better about any of this miraculously. Aaron was a good man, and you both loved each other. I wish I had someone who loved me even half of what Aaron loved you.”

Tony didn’t know what to say.

“Someone will see the person you are, Jess. You’ll find someone to love you.”

Tony pulled back and finished his coffee.

“Well, I need to get to work. Do you need me to pick Jack up? It isn’t a problem to adjust my lunch schedule to do it.”

“No, no you keep your lunch time for yourself. Thank you, Jess. I’ll be alright.”

“Somehow I don’t believe you, but I’ll go. Just call me if you need anything.”

“Thank you. I will.”

Jessica left, and now Tony was all alone. He knew he needed to get up and finish getting ready for work.

__________

As he sat at his desk, there were all these little things that Tony debated putting away. Pictures, silly little gifts that Aaron had brought back to him from hotel gift shops. It was an inside joke between them, and now they were just painful reminders.

“DiNozzo, do you have those reports on Lieutenant Barnes?”

“Yes, Boss. Here.” Tony stood and dropped the folder on Gibbs’ desk, shaking himself out of the funk he had sunk into.

“Tony, are you sure you don’t need more time?” Gibbs asked as he looked up from the file.

“No. Time means sitting at home and being surrounded…” Tony swallowed down the emotions then turned and went back to his desk. “I just need something normal.”

He felt Gibbs staring as he went back to work. The atmosphere was subdued and quiet, and Tony knew his coworkers didn’t know how to act around him now. He found he just didn’t care.

Lunchtime rolled around, and Tony went to pick-up Jack from preschool, then took him to the babysitters. He ran through a drive through then back at his desk. He worked through some of his backlog paperwork to help keep his mind occupied.

He noticed some of the files on his desk were Ziva’s. Sighing, he picked them up, stood and put them in her inbox.

“What are those?” She frowned at the growing pile that was in her inbox.

“Your files. I made notes on what needs to be fixed.” Tony turned and went back to his desk.

“They were perfect. I do not understand.”

“They were not perfect, and you need to re-do them. I am not going to fix your mistakes anymore, David.”

Ziva looked ready to unleash on him when Gibbs spoke up.

“I would not say a word, Ziva. If Tony needs you to fix your files, then you fix them. That’s your job.”

Tony saw her press her lips together as she grabbed a few from the stack and they all went back to work. The rest of the day dragged on in silence. When six o’clock came around, Tony stood, gathered his things and started to leave.

“What are you doing, Tony?” McGee frowned as he watched Tony start to leave for the day.

“If you hadn’t noticed, McOblivious, I now have a son to take care of by myself. I can’t stay to do your work for you or Ziva anymore. Jack is more important right now.  I’m leaving, so the babysitter doesn’t get a hair up her rather generous ass and call child services because I neglected to pick him up.” Tony was close to snapping. The day had been more stressful than any day he had in the past.

“Right, I’m sorry.” Tony just raised a brow and was almost, but not entirely, sorry he had embarrassed the agent. He wasn’t going to apologize as he grabbed his briefcase and backpack and left.

Dinner went about as well as breakfast, but this time Tony got something on the plate for both of them. A little TV, some reading time, then Tony found himself alone, again.

__________

Morning came, and it was all a repeat from the day before. The days stretched on into each other, but Jessica was coming around a little earlier to help Tony with Jack. It meant more than he could ever truly say.

The days at work stretched out, Tony knew he had retreated a bit, but not even frat boy DiNozzo felt up for jokes and pranks. He just didn’t feel like it was appropriate. Time stretched on, and he knew something had to give, Tony just didn’t know what or how.

One night after putting Jack to bed, Tony stretched out on the couch and tried to read. When he realized he had read the same page over and over, he set it down. Tony knew he was lost. He was lost in grief and pain, and he didn’t know how to pull out of it. Tony did not want to go to clubs or bars. He didn’t want to find a temporary, no name Dom to help pull him out of the drop he knew he was slowly succumbing to. If it got any worse, Tony would go to the local chapter of his House and ask for help. He was drifting off on the couch, not wanting to go to bed alone again.

Tony woke from his dozing by a knock on his door. Sitting up, Tony rubbed at his eyes, trying to wake up. He heard the knock again, then stumbled as he made his way over to see who it was. When he opened the door, he could honestly say he was shocked.

“McGee, what are you doing here?” Tim had not come by for a while, and Tony had begun to wonder if they were falling back into old patterns.

“I’m sorry I haven’t come by. I’ve been…well I’ve been taking a class.” Tim’s cheeks pinked as he scuffed his feet on the concrete.

Tony thought for a moment, then stepped aside letting the man inside.

“Do you want a beer?” Tony asked as he moved to the kitchen to grab one for himself.

“Sure, thank you.”

Tony let Tim to the living room, and they sat across from each other. Tony took a sip from his bottle then set it down.

“So, Timmy, what class are you taking?”

Tim picked at the label on the bottle and Tony waited patiently for him.

“Grief counseling. It’s something that I thought about for a while. We see so many people who need help, but I kept putting it off. Then it hit close to home. I knew I made mistakes with you and I’m sorry.”

Tony felt a swell of pride mixed with other emotions.

“Thank you, McGee. I know I haven’t been the Tony you’re used to.”

“You don’t need to be. You just need to be whatever you are most comfortable being. I know I have not had your back, and when you were out, I got just a small glimpse at what you do and I’ve been an ungrateful ass. I’m also pulling my next book. I don’t feel it’s appropriate.”

“Your first book wasn’t either, but it’s out there, and the damage is done.”

“I never meant to hurt anyone by it.”

“I know McGeek, but you did. It doesn’t matter now. I’m just glad you’re here.”

McGee smiled a genuine smile, and Tony felt a little shift. He felt like he was no longer alone. Tony had Jessica, and now he had McGee back. Spencer still came by as much as he could, and even though he still felt so alone, he had people there who genuinely cared.

“Got any movies?” Tim smiled, and for the first time in weeks, Tony laughed a real laugh. He knew it was going to take time, maybe a lot of time, but somehow he was going to be alright.

____________

“Ducky, what is this?” Tony asked as he sat down in the booth that Ducky and his assistant, Jimmy were already sitting at.

“You needed out of the office. You were about to make an unfortunate mistake with Ms. David.”

Tony sighed and picked at the napkin that was in front of him. Ducky was right. Tony had been about to go ballistic on the woman when she tried to Dom him in front of everyone. Then she had tried to touch him and Tony was absolutely not going to let her do that.

“Tony, you know you can talk to us, right?” Jimmy leaned forward on the table, his menu set aside because he already knew what he wanted to order.

“I know, Palmer. I just don’t understand what she’s after.”

“I would say that Ziva is after you, dear boy.”

“What? No. That is absolutely never, ever going to happen.” Tony felt horrified at the thought. He even shivered a little.

“It would explain some of her actions on cases lately.” Jimmy furrowed his brow before taking a sip of his iced tea.

Tony fell back against the back of the booth. He did not need to be dealing with Ziva David on top of everything else. He just wished that Gibbs trusted him enough to listen to him about Ziva. He still didn’t trust her, and going after her had be the biggest mistake of his life. Especially since he never got one single thank you for it. All he got was her condescension and snotty attitude.

“I should never have gone after her,” he sighed before sipping his coffee.

“Hey, you did what you thought was right, Tony.”

“I wish I could believe that Jim-Jim, but from where I’m sitting, that single decision, ruined my life.”

“You know you have many people who care about you, Anthony. There is nothing that myself or Mr. Palmer would not do for you.”

Tony’s food was set in front of him, a simple sandwich and fries. He was choked with all the feelings he was feeling. Tony felt the truth in Ducky’s words. He was grateful they weren’t pushing him.

“Say, how’s that girl you’ve been seeing, Palmer?” Tony wanted to defect away from him for a little bit.

“Breena?”

“Yeah.”

Jimmy’s smile and the blush that crept up on his cheeks told Tony everything.

“She’s great. We’ve got an open invitation to Hibiscus.”

“Really?” Tony smiled as he pointed his fry at Jimmy. “Take it Jimmy. I know they have to give you the time off. Especially when a House invites you themselves. It’s quite the honor. Take every single opportunity you can, Jimmy. I know it may sound like a fortune cookie, but it’s true, every little moment you take together means everything.”

Ducky and Jimmy exchanged a quick look as Tony ducked his head. His stomach was turning and what little food he had eaten felt like a lead weight in his stomach.

“Tony,” Jimmy reached over and wrapped his long, strong fingers around Tony’s wrist, making him look up into eyes that were full of compassion and understanding. “It will get better. I know it’s hard right now, but like Dr. Mallard said, we are here for you.”

Tony wiped at his eyes, pretending like he had something in them. He knew the young Dom meant every word and Tony wondered what he had ever done to deserve such friendship.

“Thank you, Jimmy. I mean it.” Tony pulled his hand away, but something loosened inside of him. he gave his friends a crooked smile then went back to eating.

The rest of the lunch they talked about other things. Tony goaded Ducky into some of his stories, and he knew that Ducky knew what he was doing. They helped anyway, even if everyone there knew many of them were tall tales, it was just what Tony needed to settle before going to back to work.

__________

Part 3

Tony spent his days and nights off searching for any and all clues to find Foyet. The Marshal’s had wanted to take Tony, Jessica, and Jack into protective custody, but he refused. He knew he could take care of Jack better than they could, and he wasn’t one to hide, no matter what. He was aware that it was wearing him down, and he knew he was still on a slow slide into a drop. The emotional toll was hard, but Tony didn’t want anyone’s help.

He kept anything regarding his investigation shut in his office to keep it away from Jack. His eyes were tired from staring at the computer all night, and he had barely eaten. His stomach growled, and he stumbled into the kitchen looking for food. Pulling some salami, cheese, olives, and some grapes out of the fridge, Tony made up a plate with grilled bread on the side.

Taking the food and some wine into the living room, Tony put on a movie and tried to take his mind off of Aaron, Foyet, even NCIS. Closing his eyes a moment he curled his fingers in his collar and sighed. The worst has been the nights. He was handling the days, he had his work, and if it got to be too much, Tony could go talk to Ducky or Jimmy, the two people at NCIS he still trusted. Opening his eyes, he started to play the movie and nibble at his food.

A few minutes into the movie there was a knock on his door. He stood and went to open it to see Spencer standing there.

“Spencer, come in.”

The young man smiled and followed Tony inside the house.

“How are you, Tony?” Spencer asked as he moved towards the couch.

“I’m coping.” Tony sat next to Spencer and leaned into him. He was trying to keep his anxiety under control, but it was becoming increasingly difficult. When he felt an arm come around him, offering comfort, Tony relaxed even more. He and Spencer had always been affectionate with each other, Tony and Aaron were the few people in his life that he allowed touch from. It wasn’t that Spencer didn’t like the physical contact, but he was very sensitive, and Tony suspected that he was a bit empathic. Spencer was a Dom and touch from other Dom’s made him uncomfortable, and from Subs it made him want to take care of them. So, Spencer chose to be careful who he let in so intimately.

“Tony,” Spencer bussed a kiss on his forehead and pulled the older man closer to him. “Do you need help?”

Tony took a deep breath as he thought about it. He knew what Spencer was offering and knew it hadn’t been easy for him to offer. There were few people in Tony’s life that he would trust with his Submission, Aaron was the first, Spencer…Spencer was special, and Tony thought that when Spencer found his Sub, that person would be cherished beyond compare. Tony also knew that his friend was struggling as much as he was. There had been a closeness between Aaron and Spencer that bordered on attraction. Aaron never talked about it, but Tony wasn’t stupid. He saw it in the way they interacted with each other, and instead of being jealous, Tony embraced the genius in their lives. He knew if he had ever said the word, Aaron would have been more than happy to bring the young man into their relationship, and Tony wouldn’t have ever objected.

Tony pulled away and looked at Spencer for a good long moment. He could see the pain and the struggle on his face. It was in his microexpressions which Tony was excellent at interpreting. He knew they both needed grounding and comfort. It was with no small amount of love and respect that he had for Spencer that he nodded his head.

Spencer cleared his throat as he studied Tony back.

“We should talk before anything happens.”

“What do you want to know?”

“I ah, I know both you and Aaron trained at Byron. I did as well. I also had a year-long session at Tempest.” Tony lifted a brow and pursed his lips as he considered that information. Tony had been given an invitation to Tempest House when he was younger, his connection to the Paddington’s gave him an automatic in. He didn’t take it, though, it would have cut right through college, and he had a lot staked on his time there.

“I had a chance at Tempest, but I was in college at the time. Didn’t want to break my scholarship.”

Spencer’s face softened as he cupped Tony’s cheek. He stroked softly and made Tony close his eyes and shiver.

“I’ll take care of you Tony, that is if you’ll let me.”

Tony felt on edge. He knew the small comforts he and Spencer shared had helped, but this would be different. He would be putting his Submission into Spencer’s hands. Biting his lip, Tony nodded yes.

The change in the genius wasn’t Subtle. Tony had seen Spencer in Dom mode during a case that had intersected with NCIS’s. Tim had tried to one-up the genius, and Aaron didn’t hold Spencer back. He had put the probationary agent on his knees. No one on Aaron’s team had expected it, but Tony had noticed that Spencer was no Sub. He didn’t carry himself like one, he didn’t have to show his Dominance, but Spencer earned people’s respect after he did.

Spencer stood, took off his jacket, vest, and tie. He carefully folded them and laid them to the side. Tony was watching him the whole time, not knowing what to expect.

“Kneel.” Spencer pitched his voice just a bit lower with no small amount of force in his tone. Tony’s stomach flipped a little as he slid to the floor and arranged himself in one of Aaron’s favorite positions.

“I’ll take care of you, Tony. That is if you trust me.” Spencer got down on one knee and held Tony’s face in his hand. “What is easier for you, traffic lights or safe word?”

“Safeword.” Tony thought about it a moment, and he didn’t feel right about using the one he did with Aaron.

“Key Largo,” Spencer said as he stood once again. “That will be your safe word.”

Tony almost sagged at that. He needed to have the decisions taken from him, needed to find his feet again. To be a better agent and a better father. He knew Jack was feeding off his anxiety, and Tony realized it wasn’t helping the boy.

“No sex will happen. I don’t think it would be right for either of us right now. But, if you want to continue after tonight, it’s something we can discuss. Does not mean I will leave you unsatisfied.”

“Okay.” Tony shivered just slightly at Spencer’s touch on what little skin he had showing.

“Then stand, and we’ll go to the bedroom. There you will strip to just your underwear, but no shirt, kneel and wait for me.” Tony stood on shaky legs as he made his way to the bedroom excitement running through him. He anticipated that before the night was over, he’d be bound in ropes and falling into that oblivion he so craved.

__________

Tony stretched out and felt better than he had in the last almost month since losing Aaron. The pain was still there, Tony knew it always would be, but it was almost bearable. Spencer had been perfect. He still felt the ropes that had been expertly tied around him. Spencer knew exactly what he was doing. His knots were different but no less intricate, and the feeling no less intense. Spencer had touched and scratched, petted, and soothed, edged him, and let him cum. Tony had gotten out of his head, and though he had let go and grieved, he knew he needed it. He had kept it all inside after those first few days, and he knew it wasn’t healthy to bury it.

Tony smiled softly as he felt an arm come around him and pull him close. He almost chuckled at just how much Spencer liked to touch, caress, stroke his skin, knead his muscles, and let those long fingers dance along his body till his very nerves were on fire. None of their friends would believe it.

“Morning,” Spencer mumbled as he nuzzled Tony’s neck.

“Morning,” Tony sighed as he settled his arm on top of Spencer’s. “Thank you for last night, Spencer. I needed that.”

“Always here for you Tony.”

It helped to know that. Tony was aware intellectually and emotionally Spencer had been there for him. But Spencer sharing his Domination with Tony, stepping in to care for him, they both knew it would have been what Aaron would have wanted.

“Tony,” Spencer pulled away, and Tony felt him shifting on the bed.

“Yes?”

“I don’t know if you’d be open to the suggestion, but I could be your interim. Just till you felt, you know…”

Tony turned and sat up on the bed next to Spencer. He thought about it. His other option would be to go back to Byron and be in seclusion for a couple of months, but it wasn’t the best choice for him. Tony was a social creature, it’s why he almost refused the Consort mark. He had thought he wouldn’t have made it for six months in total seclusion to one Dom. Yet, after Tony and Aaron had taken their relationship to the next level, they both needed grounding. Aaron because he had lost Haley, Tony because he had been trying to live up to Gibbs’ expectations. The seclusion had been the best thing for them. Tony shook his head to clear his thoughts, he did not need to go there. His Consort status wasn’t widely known, it was special, and at the time, only for him and Aaron.

He looked at Spencer and knew that he loved the younger man, but he wasn’t in love with him. It was more deep friendship, trust, and yes, there was an attraction, but Tony knew that he wasn’t for Spencer permanently. But, here and now, till they were both past the grieving, and the pain of losing Aaron, they could be there for each other.

“Yes, Spencer. I’d like that.” Tony looked around once more and knew that he wanted to sell the house. It was too hard, too painful to stay. “I’m going to sell the house. Look for something different. Maybe a brownstone, or townhouse. Not sure. But, I can’t stay here. It…” Tony felt his eyes fill, but he refused to let the tears fall.

“I understand. I’m here to help, with whatever.”

“Thank you, Spencer.”

Since it was Saturday, Tony got up to make breakfast. Before that though, he went to his office to check on his searches. Tony had a few pings, but nothing concrete yet. He ran another set of parameters, using much of the information that Aaron himself had compiled over the ten years that he had the Reaper case. Letting those run, Tony locked the room again and made his way to the kitchen. By the time he had the frittata, some ricotta pancakes, sausage, and juice ready, Spencer had taken his shower and joined him in the kitchen. Tony poured him coffee from the stovetop espresso maker, and let the man doctor it himself.

Jack came in a few minutes later, dragging his blanket and his favorite stuffed toy. It was a Captain America plush, and it made Tony’s heart pang. He had given that to Jack after he called his Dad Captain America once. It was to help remind Jack just how much of a superhero his father was. He swallowed down the lump in his throat as Jack came in and crashed his little body against Spencer’s.

“Hey Jackers,” Spencer bent down on one knee and picked Jack up in his arms and held him close.

“Uncle ‘Pencer,” Jack sighed as he laid his head against Spencer’s shoulder. “Read me a story?”

“Why don’t we have breakfast, then I’ll read you a story.”

“Okay.” The little boy wiggled like he wanted down, then he ran up to Tony.

“Papa.” Jack wrapped his free arm around Tony.

“Hey, kiddo. Hungry?”

“Si, Papa.”

“Come on, I’ve got your favorite ricotta pancakes.” Tony smiled and ruffled Jack’s hair. He felt like he was on shifting sand when it came to his son. He was having a hard time helping himself, let alone Jack. Breakfast wasn’t solemn like it had been the last few weeks, but it was quiet. Tony appreciated Spencer’s generally quiet nature. He also liked to hear the genius on one of his rambles. It never bothered him or Aaron. Tony knew the younger man appreciated that.

“Teaching Jack Italian?”

“Yeah. I had spent a session at Rome House. I was already fluent because of my Uncle Clive. He had made sure that I knew the other half of my heritage well. But, while there they immerse you in the language and culture of Italy. That’s where I learned to cook, did some drawing, learned about the Italian music masters, and more.”

“That sounds like it was an incredible experience.”

“It was. It’s very hard to get in. It’s one of the few Houses where you have to prove heritage to get in. Wasn’t difficult.”

Spencer just smiled as he stroked a hand down Tony’s arm. They spent the rest of the meal in silence.

After breakfast, dishes were done, and more coffee made, they all spent the day in the living room. Reading, watching TV, and cuddling. Jack had asked if he could watch a DVD that Tony had recorded one day when they had gone to the park where Jack and Aaron were playing catch. The smile on his Dom’s face was enough for Tony’s heart to hitch in his chest. He curled his fingers in his collar, to help ground himself. When Jack crawled in his lap, he wrapped his arms around the boy and held him close.

“I miss Daddy,” Jack took a deep breath and leaned back in Tony’s arms.

“I do too Buddy.” Spencer slipped his arm around Tony’s shoulders and just let the Sub know that he was there. They watched the recording for a while, till Jack was asleep and Tony could put him down for a nap.

Later in the evening they ordered pizza, watched a couple of movies, then went to bed. Spencer stayed again, and Tony thought about asking him to move in temporarily. Just till he was more settled. He knew Spencer would say yes, it made the nights a little more bearable.

__________

It took him almost three weeks, but he finally got a line on Foyet. Tony took the day off citing a meeting with a counselor for Jack, which was the truth, but the appointment only took less than an hour. He felt like he could trust the woman, she was gentle with Jack. She let him play and draw while Tony talked to her. She had explained it was how she dealt with younger children who didn’t have the skill set to express themselves properly. She would lay out a plan with Tony, and they could adjust it as Jack developed.

After the appointment, Tony left Jack with Jessica and ruminated on how his life had changed when Uncle Clive had made him go to counseling. It made Tony appreciate people like Dr. Evans. He wanted to make sure that Jack would be okay, and the things he knew and had seen in his work pushed him towards making this decision. Tony, of course, deflected when the Dr. suggested that he also go to counseling. She made it a point to tell him that often Subs that had a profound bond with their Doms like Tony had with Aaron often felt loss deeper. He didn’t have the heart to tell her he already knew that, so Tony just said he would think about it. While talking with someone as a child had helped, Tony wanted to do this on his own this time.

What he wasn’t going to tell her, or anyone was what he was doing during his downtime. Tracking Foyet. He knew Derek and the team were doing the same thing, but they didn’t have the contacts Tony had or the files that Aaron had kept over the years. When he thought about Foyet and his scars he contacted Dr. Brad Pitt. Though the man was his pulmonologist, he still would have the answers Tony needed.

Tony had deduced that Foyet would be in pain for much of his life from the self-inflicted wounds. Plus the scar tissue that would form over the years with no treatment. Instead of looking for Foyet directly, Tony followed the possible medications he could be taking. He knew, also, from his years of working with Abby and McGee that someone as smart as Foyet might set up alerts. He wouldn’t hit the pharmacies through online means, he was going to do old fashioned police work.

He had the list of pharmacies that had prescribed the types of drugs that Foyet would most likely be using. He used his knowledge of medicines, the DiNozzo charm, and his newly minted Doctor’s license, to get the records of those people that were prescribed the drugs he was looking for. It took him a few hours, but he had been able to trace the drugs. The name was an anagram, and Tony was always good at puzzles. Foyet wasn’t as clever as he thought it was, and it led him right to the apartment the man was hiding out in.

Calling Jessica, Tony asked her to keep Jack for the night. He explained he had something to do. He grabbed food from a local sandwich shop, then hunkered down and spent what little was left of the day, and the early evening surveilling.

He watched through his binoculars as Foyet moved around his apartment. The man left a couple of times. Once to get food, and on another occasion, he walked to a local mailbox rental place. Tony thought about calling the FBI’s emergency tip line and alerting the BAU, but he couldn’t. Foyet was his, and he wasn’t going to back down and hand the man over to them. Taking his focus off the apartment for just a moment, Tony pulled on a pair of thin leather gloves. He grabbed the small bag he had brought with him and double checked the contents. A gun, unregistered that Tony had ‘obtained’ recently, he took it out of the bag and checked it. He also pulled a knife out of the bag and slid it inside the sleeve of the shirt he was wearing. The leather sheath was enough to keep it in place under his cuff.

Tony watched and waited. He would know the moment he could enter the building, he just needed to have patience. Tony felt detached, numb even as he continued watching the apartment. A cold feeling settled inside him, and Tony knew he wasn’t going to lose sleep over what he had planned. Tony would never lose sleep over this. He was fully aware that this was revenge and typically Tony didn’t believe in revenge. He believed in justice. Not only was he exacting his revenge, but he was also protecting his family. The longer Foyet was out there in the world, the more that Jack was in danger of the psychopath coming after him.

The night settled around him, and he embraced it. He felt his eyes go flat and cold. He curled a finger in the collar, and it helped to settle his resolve.

“I’m sorry Aaron. I hope you will forgive me.” Tony didn’t believe in prayer generally, but he sent up a little prayer to his lost Dom. He didn’t believe in God, for if there were a God, Aaron wouldn’t have been taken from him.

Taking a deep breath, Tony got out of the car, after the light in Foyet’s apartment went out, he ran across the street. He was in luck that there wasn’t a buzzer to be let in, the security really wasn’t that good. Tony was careful though, he didn’t put it past the man to set booby traps. Quietly, and slowly Tony made his way up to Foyet’s apartment, the gun in his glove covered hands. When he got to Foyet’s apartment, he thought about how he could approach this. He didn’t want to bust in and ruin the element of surprise.

Taking his lock picking kit out of his jacket he, as quietly as he could, jimmied the lock and smiled when he heard the little click that told him the door was open. Tony grabbed the doorknob and slowly opened it. He stayed crouched and pressed against the wall, just in case. When the door swung open, and nothing happened, Tony kept down and crept inside. Foyet was lying on his bed with his eyes closed, but Tony wasn’t going to assume the man was asleep. He lifted his weapon and trained the man in his sight.

“Wake up Foyet,” Tony growled. He wanted to see the man eye to eye.

“Come now Agent DiNozzo, you know very well I’m not asleep.” Foyet opened his eyes and sat up on the bed. The sneer on his face, Tony wanted to wipe it off. “You know you aren’t going to shoot me, you’re just as much of an honorable man as your Aaron.”

“Don’t you speak his name you cocksucking, impotent, psychopathic, bastard.” Tony held the gun steady and sneered. “You see, people can be pushed. They can break, they can even go against their own code. Believe me Foyet, you aren’t getting out of here alive.”

The man started to laugh, and Tony didn’t even hesitate as he shot twice. Once in the shoulder, and the other in the stomach. He took the short steps it took to get to the man that had killed Aaron. He was groaning, but not yelling, and Tony had a silencer on the muzzle of the gun. So, any noise they made would be chalked up to random sounds. Tony pulled the man off the bed and didn’t even care about the crack his head made as it bounced on the floor.

Straddling Foyet, Tony took out the knife.

“I really, really wanted to take my time with you.” Tony disconnected even more. It felt like he was looking down on himself and what he was doing. “It’s what you deserve.” Tony struck and stabbed Foyet in the heart. He left the knife there and threw the gun down next to him after he wiped it down with the wipes he brought with him. Standing, he checked his shoes for blood. He balanced on one foot and took his shoe off, then did the same with the other. Carefully he tiptoed around the body. He pulled the bag he had brought with him out of his pocket and put the shoes in there. He pulled out a flashlight and checked around the body and didn’t see any of his prints, his thick socks helped to conceal any possible footprints.

Slipping out of the room, Tony checked all around him and made sure no one came out of their apartments. No one had. He ran out the front, then to his car. Setting the bag down, he drove a few miles away, finding just what he was looking for. An abandoned, homeless camp with the trash barrels still there. He pulled the larger bag he had with him out of the car and changed his clothes, then threw anything that had even the smallest amount of blood on it in the can and set fire to it, including the gloves. After he had made sure everything burned down to ashes, he left.

He got home rather late, and Spencer was sitting there reading a book. He looked at Tony as he came in and the Sub got the impression that Spencer had an idea what was going on.

“You’ve been gone a long time.” Tony shrugged out of his jacket and hung it on the hook by the door.

“Had an errand to run.”

Spencer stood, and Tony came into the living room, the Dom cocked his head to the side and studied Tony a minute.

“Kneel.” Tony’s eyes widened, he hadn’t expected Spencer to Dom him right then and there.

“Spencer…” Tony trailed off at the look in Spencer’s eyes. Tony quickly complied.

“Tell me the truth, Tony.” Spencer sat in a chair he grabbed from the dining table and sat in front of Tony.

“No.”

“Tony, you know I don’t like when people lie to me.”

“Technically I haven’t lied.” Tony wasn’t going to bow his head, or tilt his neck to the side. At this moment, he wasn’t a Sub, he was just Tony.

“What won’t you tell me?”

“Spencer, please don’t ask me because I don’t want you to have to lie.”

Spencer looked at Tony for a long moment then sank down on the floor. He took Tony’s head in his hands and looked right into his eyes.

“Oh Tony, what did you do?”

“The only thing I could do Spencer, what I had to do.”

Spencer closed his eyes and let his head fall against Tony’s. “Did you clean up?” he whispered.

“Don’t worry. I’ll be fine.” Tony felt the tears fall silently as Spencer sat there with him, holding him. It was several long moments before Spencer was pulling away.

“I don’t know anything.” Spencer stood and walked towards the bedroom. Tony slowly stood and followed behind. He stripped out of his clothes and stepped into the shower and for the first time in weeks felt whole.

It didn’t take long for news of Foyet’s murder to trickle down to NCIS. Tony was busy doing paperwork when he heard his name being called by Vance. Tony stood, straightened his suit and went right up the stairs to Vance’s office.

“Sit.” The venom Tony heard in Vance’s voice shocked him.

“Director. May I ask what is going on?”

Vance looked directly at him, and Tony had the distinct impression that he wanted to make him kneel in front of him to have the conversation he knew was coming. Tony wasn’t going to give in, he always had the right to say no.

After a silent battle of wills, a folder was thrown at him. Tony picked it up and read through it. It was the report on Foyet’s death. He didn’t even flinch.

“No hair, no fibers, no prints. No evidence of who did this, but I can guess.”

“And who do you think it is Director?”

“Don’t, DiNozzo. If there were even one shred of evidence, I’d have your ass in a sling and hand you to the FBI myself. But there isn’t any evidence, no one saw or heard anything, and with no possible suspects, they are closing this as a random killing.”

“What is it you expect of me, Director? I’m not sorry he’s dead.”

They eyed each other again after Vance took the report back.

“Get out of here.” Tony stood and left Vance’s office. He knew others were going to be suspicious, but he was aware that they had no evidence, and without even the smallest scrap of evidence, he couldn’t be charged with anything.

Tony made his way back to his desk and got back to work like nothing had happened. No one asked what Vance wanted him for and Tony liked it just like that.

__________

Part 4

Work had gotten uncomfortable because Tony wasn’t taking anyone’s crap anymore. The latest case had them investigating a Navy wife when her husband went missing. The Captain wasn’t known for disappearing, and everyone said that he was a model officer. Loved his job, and his men loved and respected him.

They were at the crime scene, and Tony was going to take the pictures, but before he started, he handed McGee the sketchpad.

“Start sketching the scene, McGee. Ziva, check the patio and backyard for any evidence. I’ll start on the photographs.” Tony lifted the camera, and before he took the first picture, Ziva got right in his face.

“And why should I take orders from you?” She crossed her arms, and the smirk on her face pissed Tony off.

“Because I said so Probationary Agent David.”

“What is this Tony? Are you trying to be a Dom now? Trying to rise above your station?”

Tony’s expression turned dangerous as he glared at Ziva.

“I am still the SFA, you are only a Probationary Agent. I’m not in the mood for games, and this has nothing to do with my personal dynamic and everything to do with the fact that I am, in this unit, your superior. It’s about time that you and McGee remember that.” Tony stood and held his head high as he continued to glare at the woman.

“Patio and backyard, Ziva, now,” Tony was just tired of her games and just sighed when she rolled her eyes and spun then went and did as he asked.

He turned to look at McGee, and the man didn’t hesitate to do what Tony had asked him to do. He continued to take photos all around the house, then met up with Gibbs who was still in the front room with the wife.

“All done here Boss,” Tony said as he started to put away the camera. Ziva and McGee came back in and put their things away before walking to the van.

“Everything okay, DiNozzo?”

“Everything is fine, why?”

“Because I didn’t hear you talking and joking.”

“Maybe I don’t want to joke around right now. I just want to get on with the investigation.”

Tony grabbed his gear and started towards the van himself and crawled into the driver’s seat, waiting for Gibbs. Once his Boss was in the van, Tony took off, and it was a quiet ride back to the office.

After logging in what little evidence they had found, Tony felt Gibbs watching him. He wanted to close his eyes because he was near snapping at the man for the constant looks he was getting.

When Gibbs stood and started towards the elevator, Tony just knew what was coming next.

“DiNozzo, office.”

Tony threw his pen down and started after Gibbs. When they got in the elevator and Gibbs turned it off, Tony braced himself for whatever was going to come. What he wasn’t expecting was for Gibbs to crowd him in the corner.

“Boss, what are you doing?”

Gibbs’ eyes went to the collar and Tony narrowed his eyes at him.

“You’re still wearing it.”

“Yes.”

“Tony,” Gibbs’ voice was strange, and it was making Tony very uncomfortable. “Are you okay?”

“Gibbs, I just lost my partner, so no I am not okay. What is this?”

“I’m offering to help you, Tony.”

“Well, I don’t need the help Gibbs, and if I did, I wouldn’t ask you. You’re my boss, and yes my friend also, but that’s where it ends.”

Gibbs watched him, and Tony was becoming a little nervous. He really didn’t want to be there cornered by his boss.

“Tony…”

“No. I have a friend that I’m comfortable with. I wouldn’t feel right with you, Boss.” Tony took a moment to study Gibbs then in an uncharacteristic move on his part he said something that had been on his mind for a while now. “Look, I get it. You feel like you have some kind of weird kinship with me because you lost your wife and daughter. But, if I let you in that way, I couldn’t handle the competition with your dead wife. Not now, not with Aaron being gone. I need someone who doesn’t have your baggage.”

Tony thought for a minute that Gibbs was going to get angry at his words but they just stared at each other and time seemed to drag on, but finally, Gibbs moved away and let Tony go.

The rest of the day was spent in very awkward silences as Tony got on with his part of the investigation. He hardly looked up from his desk and only noticed it was getting dark when a cup of coffee was being placed in front of him.

“You should go home, Tony. Go be with your son. I’ll take care of some of this for you.” Tony looked up to see McGee standing near his desk.

He had a quip on the tip of his tongue, but then he was just too tired. He knew he couldn’t keep going like this, that something was going to have to give. Either he needed to leave NCIS, or move to a different unit. He just didn’t know what to do. But, for now, McGee was right, he needed to go home to Jack.

“Thanks, McHelpful. Just don’t stay too long yourself.” Tony stood and gathered his things together. Spencer was out on a case, and Tony was feeling a little shaken from his encounter with Gibbs. He hadn’t known that the man was still interested in him at all, even though Aaron had warned him of the possibility. Tony chose to not see it, but now that he thought back over the years there were little things. Gibbs had tried to Dom him on several occasions before Tony started the platonic side of the relationship with Aaron. He was uncomfortable with it then, he certainly was more uncomfortable with it now. Tony wasn’t sure what Gibbs’ game was, and frankly, Tony had little energy to expend to find out what kind of game his Boss was playing. If he wanted some sort of relationship, then Gibbs would be waiting a very long time.

Tony pulled into the driveway and turned off the engine, and just stared up at the house he had shared with Aaron for the last three years. He remembered how excited Aaron had gotten about buying the place. They had plans for a small expansion, knocking out a few walls and adding a couple of more rooms. Redoing the kitchen, making it a chef’s kitchen. Pull out drawers with pasta racks, a convection oven on top of a traditional one. The stove top was going to have a large grill in the middle. Room to cook, and even do a little baking. Tony thought of all those things they had planned, and the future they had mapped out. Now, it was a house full of memories and ghosts. Pulling out his phone he called a Real Estate agent to get the ball rolling to sell.

Getting out of the car Tony made his way into the house and saw that Spencer was back from his case.

“That was a quick trip,” Tony put his things down and went to sit next to Spencer on the couch. Jack was on the floor playing with a puzzle.

“The UnSub wasn’t as smart as he thought he was. We were able to wrap it up quickly. Strauss gave us a few days off.”

Tony laid his head back against the couch and closed his eyes. He took a deep breath and tried to still his mind, but it wasn’t working. Gibbs, the team, work, in general, wasn’t the same anymore. Nothing was the same anymore.

“Tony, what’s going on?” Spencer asked as he touched Tony’s thigh.

Tony was going to just keep it all inside and try to deal with it on his own, but he felt like he was drowning, a stranger in his own life and he didn’t like that. Tony knew he needed to make some changes, but he wasn’t even sure what it was he wanted. He looked at Spencer and knew he needed to get out of his head. They had kept the relationship platonic so far, but Tony needed more. He needed touch. Aaron had been a very tactile Dom. Touch was something that had been vital to the both of them.

Spencer was good in helping to keep Tony stay stable, but he realized he needed more. He just wasn’t sure what the Dom would be comfortable with. Taking a moment to compose himself, Tony told Spencer what happened in the elevator, and how he wasn’t feeling safe.

“Have you thought about leaving NCIS?”

“I just don’t know what it is I would want to do. But I don’t want to think about that right now.”

Spencer raised his brow, and his whole demeanor shifted. That’s what Tony loved about Spencer, he was highly intuitive, and always seemed to know what Tony needed before he voiced those needs.

“Go to the bedroom, strip and I’ll be right there.” It didn’t take long for Tony to get into the right headspace that he needed to be in. By the time Spencer had everything locked down, Jack in bed, and the alarm set, Tony was a bundle of anticipation.

Spencer stripped down to his t-shirt and boxers, which was normal for a play session between them.

Tony was kneeling at the end of the bed, head slightly bowed and to the side. He desperately wanted to reach out and touch. Something must have shown on his face because Spencer stood closer to him than he ever had before.

“What do you need Tony?”

Tony’s breath was shallow as he looked up towards Spencer’s face.

“Touch me? It’s been too long…I know Aaron wouldn’t mind if it were you.” Tony furrowed his brow, hoping he hadn’t pushed the boundaries of their friendship too much. Spencer’s soft smile let him know that he would be taken care of.

“Anything you need Tony.” Spencer bent down as he gently took Tony’s face in his hands, and kissed him. The kiss was gentle at first, then Spencer slowly deepened it as a hand cupped the back of Tony’s neck. After a moment he pulled back and cupped the Subs cheek.

“I will take care of you. Same safeword?”

“Yes.” Tony was sinking into that place in his mind that he had not been able to get to. When Spencer moved away, and walked to the closet and pulled out the ropes and chain, Tony almost let out a whimper, knowing what was coming.

Spencer took his time, starting with turning Tony’s collar around he slipped the double folded rope through the thick, wide ring. He let rope hang down, then threaded it through the short length of chain, but it didn’t pull too hard. The chain was light, it was used only to thread the rope through the links, then tie at Tony’s sides. The complicated knots were both decorative, and secure. As he threaded one section of rope through a link, Spencer slid his fingers along Tony’s skin, calming and reassuring. He made the knot, then kissed the spot on Tony’s back just above. He did this each time a knot was secured. It was slow, methodical, but highly arousing. When he was done, Tony’s arms were immobile against his sides.

Spencer moved to stand in front of Tony again, and he laid the man down on soft pillows that would press just enough on the chain to give Tony that small bit of pain that he enjoyed. Cupping his chin, Spencer looked in Tony’s eyes.

“Tell me how you feel.”

“Safe. I feel so safe.” The slight slurring of words didn’t faze Spencer, not yet. He would watch carefully to make sure Tony didn’t slip too far. Grabbing another set of rope, Spencer tied a complicated Japanese frog knot at Tony’s ankle, then wrapped the rope up Tony’s leg, avoiding the knee area. Spencer pushed Tony’s leg, so it was bent, then he wrapped his thigh in the rope, then connected it to the ropes holding his arms. Again, Spencer took his time, caressing, and kissing the flesh before it disappeared under the ropes. He repeated the same on the other leg, then slid up the bed and kissed Tony on the lips.

“I’m going to take you now, Tony,” Spencer whispered in his ear before pulling back and grabbing the bottle of lube and a condom. After he had moved between Tony’s legs, which were being held wide open by the way that he was secured in the ropes, Spencer let out a moan of appreciation as his eyes roved over Tony’s body. Taking the lube, Spencer squirted a generous amount on his fingers, then slipped one inside Tony’s tight pink hole. He fingered the man just enough to spread the lube, getting Tony ready to take his now throbbing cock. Wetting his lips, Spencer grabbed a condom and ripped open the package and rolled it onto his dick. He had to take a deep breath to try to slow himself down. Using the rest of the lube on his fingers, he applied just enough to make it slick so he could slip inside the quivering man beneath him.

“God, you’re beautiful Tony.” Spencer moaned as he guided his cock to Tony’s hole, then slid in inch by inch, savoring the breach himself as much as he could see that Tony was as well.

“Spencer,” Tony groaned at the feeling of being filled. Closing his eyes, he let himself go that last final bit. He relaxed completely letting his mind take him to that calm, still place. Spencer was moving inside him, and Tony wanted to touch so badly, but that was part of the exquisite torture of being bound. He was denied the ability to touch, but it freed him also. He let sensation take over as Spencer fucked him. Mouth bit and sucked, while hands held him down even more. His cock was leaking, his body shaking, all the sensations were making him come undone. When he felt Spencer still above him, then thrust into him a few more times, he knew the Dom had cum. He was about to beg when a warm mouth wrapped around his aching dick, he needed the release.

“Come for me, Tony.” The demand made his eyes roll back in his head as his hips bucked when Spencer once again took his cock in his mouth. He came inside that willing mouth as he shuddered from the intensity of his orgasm.

There were a few moments of quiet where all Spencer did was touch, and gently kissed along Tony’s stomach and chest. He took as much time releasing Tony from his bindings as he did when he tied them. The tender intimacy, the slide of mouth and hands made Tony shiver. After he was completely released, he slid bonelessly onto the bed, his eyes closing seeking the rest he had not gotten much of since Aaron’s murder. Hands were on him, gently massaging, making sure that the ropes did not rub or pull on skin or muscles. He was prodded to a sitting position where he was given water, his pulse was checked as were his eyes.

A kiss on his forehead, then he was being laid back down. Tony couldn’t fight any of it, he wouldn’t want to even if he could. He felt good, a reprieve from the grief that was his constant companion. Laying down, Tony sighed as Spencer pressed comfortingly at his back. He felt safe and cared for and thanked the Universe for Spencer. Tony knew he was not going to be able to get through this alone, there was no better person than Spencer that Tony could think of that could get him through this. Tony knew he was going to be okay, it was just going to take time.

__________

Tony was sitting at his desk finishing up correcting some old files and looking through cold cases. It was something to help pass the time in between cases. And, with his help with some of those cases, NCIS was able to close many of them just weeks after Tony had combed through them. He only looked up when he heard some commotion coming from near Ziva’s desk.

“Good afternoon, son. Major General Jack O’Neill and my partner, Dr. Daniel Jackson.” Tony wasn’t fazed on the outside, he was used to Generals and having to deal with them, but on the inside, he was kind of freaking out. Clearing his throat, he stood and extended his hand.

“Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo, how can I help you General?”

“I’m here to see you about a classified project. There is an important video conference that will come through your MTAC, but you’ll need to be read in on the mission and sign some documents before you talk to who it is you need to talk to.” Jack’s wry smile had Tony furrowing his brow.

“Jack, don’t scare the man that Sheppard wants.”

“Danny, I’m not scaring him…just imparting the facts.”

“I’m sorry, but I’m Tony’s boss, anything you have to say to him should come through me.” Gibbs stood from his desk, and Jack turned to look at him. The smile on his face usually had even the toughest Marines backing away from him.

“Daniel.”

Daniel tried to keep the smirk off his face, he knew it was an unkind expression, but it was so hard when Jack was in full ‘General’ mode.

“Yes, Sir.” Daniel quirked his brow at his Dom and knew right away the game he was playing.

“Did I ask for a Gunnery Sergeant Leroy Jethro Gibbs to be in on this meeting?”

“No, Jack you didn’t.”

“So, why would he think he’s invited?” Jack was staring, almost expressionless at Gibbs.

“My only guess could be that Agent DiNozzo is a collared Sub and Agent Gibbs believes he has any say over the young man.” Daniel’s crooked smile and raised brows belied the calm tone in his voice.

“Hm, that would constitute someone trying to steamroll over the rights of said Sub, correct?”

Daniel knew what Jack was doing. He was aware that if Gibbs tried anything else, Jack would have the man on his knees in seconds.

“I don’t know who you think you are, but you have no right to command anyone in my Unit, General.”

Tony was watching the exchange with both amusement and a little fear.

Jack walked over to Gibbs desk and leaned one hip on the edge, then leaned down just a bit looking at Gibbs.

“I would suggest that you stand down Gunny.” Jack’s tone brokered no arguments and Gibbs closed his mouth but glared. Jack stood, and knew he wasn’t going to have any more issues if he did Gibbs was certainly going to know just how far down the food chain he really was.

“DiNozzo,” Jack held his hand out towards Daniel, who gave him a file, which he then gave to Tony. “Read all of that, then sign where all the little flag thingies are if you agree.”

Tony was very confused by everything that had just transpired, so he just shook his head and got down to the business of reading what the General had given him. Jack had taken the empty chair near Tim’s desk with Daniel sitting on his lap.

Tony looked at them a couple of times and shook his head, he knew what they were doing, and it amused him greatly. After he was finished reading, a grin across his face the whole time, Tony signed where he needed to and waved the folder at the General.

“All signed and ready to be delivered right back to you.” Tony stood, and Jack prodded Daniel up, then he strode over to Tony and took the folder, looked over the paperwork and nodded his head while handing the folder to Daniel.

“Now, we can go make our call. Daniel, watch them.” Jack almost wished he had allowed Daniel to bring the Zat gun by the way Gibbs was glaring at him. “And for god sakes, try to play nice.”

“I’m always nice Jack. It’s you that I always have to watch out for.”

“I didn’t get where I am by being nice.”

“And that’s what I love about you.”

Jack’s face softened before turning and heading towards the stairs.

“Well come on DiNozzo, we haven’t got all day.” Tony stood and loped after the General. The two made their way up to MTAC quickly.

The tech that was there manning the communications board looked up to see Tony and Jack coming in.

“A video call should be coming in any second now, once the link is established, I’m going to have to ask you to leave, young man.”

“Yes, Sir.” The tech nodded as he turned back to his console. Once the signal came in, he established a connection, gave some short instruction then left, closing the door behind him.

“Jack.” Tony looked at the screen and saw the last person he expected to ever see again. “And Tony, it’s good to see you again.”

“Sheppard, it’s been what, three, four years?”

“Three, how are you?”

“Good, what’s all this about?”

“Before I get to that let me introduce Dr. Elizabeth Weir.”

“Hello General, Agent DiNozzo.”

“So, this is about this super secret project that I’ve heard rumors about for years now, right?”

“You’re right Tony. It is, and I want you with us.” John smiled as he leaned back in a chair with his hands behind his head.

“Why me? I’m not military.”

“That’s precisely why I do want you. Look, Tony, you have one of the best investigative minds I’ve ever seen. We need help out here. We need someone who can help us read a situation better than we have been. Someone who can train some of us to learn what to look for. And, you have a Doctorate in Sports Medicine. Even though we have a lot of advanced technology, there are those who are wary using it on themselves. We could use someone versed in physical therapy.”

“I don’t know, John I have a son to think about.”

“Bring him.”

“John!” Elizabeth admonished as she looked towards Tony. “It’s a very dangerous environment.”

“And we have a lot of children on the City at any one time.” John looked back at Tony and Tony felt like he was being studied. “You have a Dom, Tony?”

Pain churned inside him as he balled his hands into fists trying to keep himself from saying anything stupid to the Major.

“I did. I lost him recently.” Tony gritted his teeth fighting the emotions.

“Oh damn, I’m sorry, I didn’t know. We’ve only been back on Earth a few days. Look, why don’t you come to the Mountain and we can talk more. Bring your Son, I’m pretty confident I can persuade you into joining us.” John put his legs on the desk and crossed his ankles.

“And you Dr. Weir?”

“I actually, reluctantly, agree with John. We need help, and your record is impressive. I think if we had someone like you initially, our mission would have been a little easier. Let’s just say that many of our first contacts have not gone well. We have made some headway and have some new allies, but we could have handled things better from the beginning.”

Tony studied the two people up on the screens, then the General next to him. A part of him wanted to go, he knew the possible dangers, but it really wasn’t worse than anything he had dealt with on a daily basis. This was an opportunity for a fresh start, to be around people who didn’t know him or keep looking at him with sympathy. There was one thing he wanted though.

“I’ll come to the Mountain, on one condition.”

John narrowed his eyes as he sat up in the chair.

“What do you want?”

“You let me bring Dr. Spencer Reid.”

“And why do we want Dr. Reid?” There was something in John’s voice that gave Tony a momentary pause. He wasn’t going to ask at this moment, but he might ask later when they met in person.”

“Because as good as I am at reading a scene, he’s even better. He’s brilliant. Has degrees in Math, Science and Engineering, and a fuckton of other shit I don’t even know. He thinks outside the box, and I think you’ll want him.”

John and Elizabeth looked at each other and Elizabeth just shrugged her shoulder. John lifted a brow and contemplated.

“Okay, we’ll talk to him.”

“Thank you, John. When do you want to see me?”

“As soon as the General can get your ass out here. We don’t have long before we have to get back to the City, which I know you are going to love.”

“Thank you, Dr. Weir, Major. I’ll see you both in a few days.”

The two people signed off, and Jack looked back at Tony.

“I’m going to assume you already made up your mind.”

Tony just smiled as he walked towards the door. “I’ll have my resignation handed into Vance by the end of the day.” Even though Tony wasn’t altogether sure what he just agreed to, he knew anything had to be better than what was happening in his own job. Things had gotten close to hostile, and Tony wasn’t even sure what that was about. How him being a widower was causing problems was beyond him. Seemed it was only okay for Gibbs to grieve his loss, but Tony had to just ‘get over it.’ The double standard wasn’t fair, and he could no longer live the way he was.

As they headed back down with the General in the lead, Tony almost choked on a breath at the scene before him. They had not been gone that long for Ziva to be on her knees with Daniel standing over her arms crossed over his chest.

“Daniel,” The General dragged out his Sub’s name as he got closer to the scene.

“Jack.”

“What exactly happened?”

“Probationary Agent David thought she could put her hands on me. She tried to Dom me. All I did was Subdue her and made her wait on her knees for you.”

“Your agent tried to put her hands on not only a collared Sub, but my collared Sub, and husband?” Jack had glared at Gibbs before he looked down at the woman on the floor. “Get up.” Jack waved his hand to motion the woman to stand. The look in her eyes was the same look she had when she was told Michael had been killed, murderous.

Tony sat down at his desk and decided to work on his resignation, no matter what happened soon, even if he decided not to become involved in the mission Sheppard wanted him for, he was still leaving. He just didn’t feel safe anymore.

“Agent David, do you know the penalty for touching a collared Sub against their will? Especially one that, if he weren’t a civilian, technically outranks you?”

Ziva swallowed hard as she looked around at Gibbs, then Tim. Both were staring at their desks trying not to make any waves.

“Gibbs?” Ziva pleaded with her boss.

“I told you to stand down Ziva.”

“It’s considered sexual assault to touch a collared Sub without their permission. I could have you in a brig so fast your pretty head would spin.” Jack crossed his arms and tilted his head slightly to the side as he stared at her. “Daniel, it’s your choice. What do you want to do?”

“I’ve been reading her full unredacted file. Technically this woman is a traitor. She has been passing secrets first to a boyfriend that was involved in illegal operations on US soil, next her father is Eli David.”

“Really.”

“Yup. You know, he’s been trying to get his hands on information about the Mountain for years. So far no success. We’ve circumvented him every time he gets close. I don’t trust him, and neither does Sam.”

“An instrument in your father’s game then, Agent David?”

“I don’t know what you are talking about.” Ziva lifted her chin in defiance as she glared at the General. Tony had been watching while he stayed quiet. Whatever happened to her, he was going to let Ziva hang herself. He wasn’t going to contribute anything unless they asked.

“Oh, I think ‘ya do. I believe that you were put here for a reason. I also think this would be a good time to talk to the DOJ about your little game. I wonder how many other male Subs you’ve tried something with? Maybe we should find out.”

“Look I am sorry for whatever offense I have done towards your husband…”

“David, I’d shut up if I were you,” Gibbs growled his displeasure at her.

“We’ll be in touch.” Jack motioned for Daniel to follow him, this wasn’t over. He had a very uneasy feeling about Ziva David, and he was going to pursue it till he got answers. Whatever they were. He said his goodbyes to Tony, then left.

Tony had stayed silent the whole time he had been sitting there. Trying not to smirk he grabbed the printout of his resignation, went up to Vance’s office and laid it on his desk. The man didn’t even try to talk him out of it as he walked out of the office. Grabbing a box, he threw his things in it, ignored the questions coming at him from Tim and Gibbs. Choosing not to answer them as he finished packing up, his desk now empty of everything that was important to him. He could care less what happened to the rest, except for Gibbs’ medals.

“Hey, Timmy,” Tony opened the drawer where the medals were carefully piled in, then looked up at his probie. “These are now your responsibility. Take care of them. As much as he complains that he doesn’t want them, well you know they are important.” Tony stood and placed the most important medal on Tim’s desk. “Take extra care of that.” He didn’t wait for Tim’s reaction, he simply turned to Gibbs, and with a smile on his face, he uttered two simple words.

“I quit.” Tony grabbed his box and with nothing further to say left NCIS for the final time.

__________

Tony had the house all packed. It had taken a couple of weeks. Going through and getting rid of some things, packing others for long-term storage, and tagging items that a local furniture reseller had come by and given him a good price on. The antiques he was storing, but all of the other furniture could go.

The house had already been sold. It didn’t take long when he had decided to put it up for sale. It was in a prime location, close to schools and parks, not far from the major highway and between DC and Arlington. Because the house was in such an excellent location, Tony got a good sum for it. Some of the money he had put into his personal account, which he put into a trust that David Rossi would look after, the rest went into the account for Jack. That had been started between Aaron and Tony just a little after they started their relationship. Tony had also added the personal insurance money as well as the Bureau insurance and any monies that came from Aaron’s retirement account to this account. Rossi’s name was on it as the primary trustee, with his cousin Edward secondary if anything happened to David.

When the last of the items to be stored was put into the pod, Jack with his little suitcases of the things he just ‘had’ to have, Tony’s heart broke. He second guessed himself yet again, but he knew they both needed this move, even if it was to a galaxy millions of light years away.

Tony turned to lock-up the house when a car came up the drive. Tony recognized it immediately. He sighed and wondered what kind of trouble one Abigail Sciuto was going to cause. He waited patiently on on the bottom of the steps as the woman got out of the car and stormed up to the front. Out of the corner of his eye, Tony saw that Spencer was standing near, just in case.

“What the hell is all this, DiNozzo?” Abby crossed her arms and glared at Tony.

“I’m not sure what you mean, Abby?”

“Gibbs said you quit and that you took a job even he doesn’t have access to. Gibbs knows everything Tony, so whatever it is you need to tell me, now.”

Tony stared at the woman in shock. Jack had wrapped his arms around Tony’s leg, his little body trembled slightly.

“Abby, keep your voice down. You are scaring my son. As to Gibbs, I hate to burst that bubble you have him in, but no Gibbs does not know everything, and he certainly does not have the clearance for this. Now, I have some things to take care of.”

“Who is that?” Abby glared at Spencer.

“Dr. Spencer Reid, meet NCIS Lab Tech, Abigail Sciuto. I thought we were friends, but now I’m reconsidering our relationship with this little outburst.”

Spencer just nodded his head towards the woman. Tony knew he didn’t want to get in the middle of this conversation.

“I’m just going to wait in the car, Tony.”

Tony just watched as Spencer walked to the car and got in. Only then did he turn his attention back to Abby.

“What is he doing with you, Tony?” Abby was glaring at him and he almost snorted at how she looked more like a pissed off kitten than the badass she was trying to be.

“Abby, that is none of your business. Now, I don’t understand what you are doing here, but I need to ask you to leave.”

“I came to talk you back home, Tony. You know Gibbs would take care of you. He’s perfect for you and you know you love us, Tony. Why can’t you just come home?”

“Abby, this,” Tony looked back at the house that now no longer his. “Was my home. NCIS was my job. I’ve come to terms with the fact that none of you really knew me at all. And me and Gibbs? Just co-workers, Abbs. There is never going to be anything between the two of us.”

“But, Tony, he needs you…”

“Stop right there Abbs. Gibbs needs me? Are you fucking kidding me? Leave, now. And think on what it is you just said. I’m sorry if it’s hurt your little world view on what you think we all may have had together, but, Abby, it was never there. Now, I have things I need to do. I’ve already said my goodbyes.” Tony glared back at Abby, who looked like she was going to say something more, but Tony held up his hand. She huffed, then stomped back to her hearse and got in. Tony just waited till she was driving away before he let out the breath he had been holding. He turned his head and looked down at Jack who was frowning, and Tony knew he was upset.

“Hey little man, ready?”

“Yes, Papa.” Tony picked up the boy and sighed.

“I know, kiddo. This wasn’t what either of us wanted. If I could turn time around, I would, but we are strong. It’s just you and me Figlio against the whole wide universe now.”

“Like Frodo and the ring?”

“Yeah, Buddy, just like Frodo and the ring.” Tony chuckled and brushed a kiss on Jack’s cheek then walked out the door. He bundled Jack into his car seat, with Spencer sitting in the front, Tony ran in and grabbed the luggage. Next, they were going to Spencer’s apartment, so he could pack for the trip to Colorado. Tony and Jack were going to stay with him for the week before they had to leave.

“Spencer, you really don’t mind watching Jack till I get back?”

“Tony, I already told you that it’s okay. I’ll put on movies, order pizza and we’ll have a lot of fun. JJ is bringing Henry by, and the boys will build a pillow fort in the living room. When you get back, they will probably be asleep. I know you need to do this, I’m here to help in any way that I can.”

Tony nodded his thanks as he stopped at Spencer’s and helped Jack with his bag. They got him settled in Spencer’s place, then Tony would bring his things up when he got back.

Driving to Gibbs’ house took a little longer than normal, there was heavy traffic with it being a Friday. He had stopped halfway there and picked up some steaks, potatoes, vegetable and some beer. He knew they needed to talk. He didn’t want to leave Earth with so much between them.

He stopped the car in front of Gibbs’ house and saw the car parked there. It hadn’t even occurred to him to call first. He knew the man too well. Grabbing the groceries, he walked in, put everything except the steaks in the fridge. He took out a plate and placed the steaks on it, then some seasoned them and let them sit to come up to room temperature. They always grilled better that way.

After he had finished, he made his way to the basement.

“Thought you quit.” Gibbs barely turned his head as he watched Tony come down the stairs.

“I did. Wanted to come by and see if we are okay. Brought some steaks, thought maybe, you know we could talk.”

“Don’t see as we have anything to discuss. You made your decision.” Gibbs threw the tool in his hand on his workbench and leaned into the corner, arms crossed glaring at Tony.

“I think there’s a lot we should talk about. You’re angry at me.”

“Okay, yeah I am. What the hell is this? Some General waltzes in and you just fall at his feet, and suddenly you quit?”

“Well, for one I did not fall at anyone’s feet. And you had to have seen this coming, Boss.”

“No, DiNozzo I didn’t. I thought we were a team.”

“Really?” Tony laughed, but it was a bitter hard laugh, “Because we have not been a team since you got back from Mexico. Whatever happened to you when your brains got scrambled, you forgot all about us, you forgot about me. You wallowed in your grief, and before you even try to say that I don’t understand, you damn well should know that I do.” Tony crossed his arms and glared at Gibbs.

Gibbs visibly swallowed as he turned around and gripped the counter with his head down.

“You’re right. You should know how I feel.”

Tony rolled his neck trying to relieve some of the tension that had formed there.

“You have to let her go, Gibbs. You have to move on. I know it hurts, believe me, I know. I just packed up my whole damn life, and it near killed me. The only thing that held me together was Jack and what it would do to him if I gave up, but fuck if there aren’t days that I want to just crawl under the covers and just…” Tony pressed his lips together and forced back the tears in his eyes.

“Die?” Gibbs whispered as he let his head fall against the cabinet above his workbench.

“Yeah.” Tony turned away hating himself for admitting his biggest weakness. He didn’t even hear when Gibbs moved and before he could protest he was engulfed in his friend’s arms.

“Don’t. I don’t ever want to hear you say you want to give up like that. You have too much to live for, Tony.”

“Some days it doesn’t feel like it.” Tony buried his head against Gibbs’ neck and fought the emotions that wanted to spill out.

A hand gripped the back of his neck in a reassuring hold.

“It will get better.”

Tony nodded, then Gibbs was letting him go.

“What did you bring to eat?” And just like that, they fell back on an even keel. Tony just shook his head and wondered at their completely fucked up relationship.

“Steaks. They should be ready for the grill.”

“I’ll get the grill ready. Bring beer?”

“Of course. Don’t want to endure that rock gut you like to drink. I have a son to get home to later.”

“Yes, you do, Tone. Don’t take that for granted.” Gibbs worked his jaw as Tony just nodded as he followed Gibbs up the stairs, knowing they still had things to talk about, but also knowing that Gibbs was open to talking. He was glad he came, he would have felt guilty for leaving without saying his goodbyes.

Note: I originally developed this for my Bound Love series, which now encompasses several stories. I worked on these after I read Kushiel’s Dart.

DISCLAIMER: I never read Xanthe, my take on dynamics is from personal experience and through other reading material. Yes, I have read Ties That Bind, but it in no way influenced my House system.

Tempest House –      Focus is on command play, humiliation, role-playing, some bondage and impact play.

House Master –             Alain McCord – Elevated to House Master when the previous one passed away

House Mistress –          Tanya Stiles – Alain’s right hand.

Master Mark: is a large stylized lightning storm

Sub Mark: A circle with a contained lightning storm

Secondary Mark is a lightening bolt

Consort Mark is a large Celtic V pattern on the back

Houses are located in the US, England, and Canada

Byron House   –           Focus is on intellectuals, they cater to intelligent minds, subs learn to keep up with the world and current events. Specialty is bondage play. Chains, restraints, rope bondage, silk rope bondage, Japanese rope braiding – non-masochists

House Master –             Thomas Byron – Heir to Byron House.

House Mistress –          Aeron Sinclair – Friend and confidant to Thomas

Master Mark:  Celtic runes that translates to ‘Decadence’

Sub Mark: Celtic runes that translates to ‘give control’

Secondary Mark is a book

Consort Mark is a double wolf’s head Celtic knot pattern on the back

Houses are located in New England, Ireland

Dragon House – Focus is full on impact play.  Floggers, whips, bull whips, paddles, riding crops etc. the focus is Sadomasochism

House Master –             Jaw-Long Jiang – Name means River Dragon

House Mistress –          Lihua Jiang – Beautiful Elegant River – Cousin to Jaw-Long

Aaron Hotchner – Heir to Dragon House

Master Mark: Large Dragon, usually wraps around the shoulder and up the neck.

Sub Mark: Smaller dragon that sits on the ball of the shoulder

Secondary Mark is a small lizard

Consort Mark – Large scale Phoenix on the back

Houses are located in New York, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Hawaii

House of Ice and Fire  –    Focus is on sensation play. Fire, Ice, Electricity, pumps, moxibustion, hot wax, fire drumming, drumming, and more.

House Master –                Egill Storm- Name means Knife Edge and Storm

House Mistress –              Runa Engvill – Name means The Secret Lore

Master Mark: Ice and Fire entwined

Secondary Mark – Thor’s hammer

Sub Mark:  An Ouroboros

Consort Mark – Large-scale tribal pattern

Houses are located in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, US

Amaryllis House – Focus on caring, Art of sensual massages, and all kinds of regular massage as well.  Bathing rituals, music, dance, tea ceremony, no pain kinks, light bondage. Art of writing poetry is also encouraged.

House Master –             Hikaru Kawai – Name means Shining Water

House Mistress-           Aimi Kawai – Name means Beautiful love and The Water. Sister to Hikaru

Master Mark: A large bouquet of Amaryllis flowers

Sub Mark: a single Amaryllis flower

Secondary Mark is a small Orchid.

Consort Mark – Large-scale Japanese Brush Painting Orchids with reeds on the back.

Houses are located in Japan, California, Toronto, Washington (State)

Hibiscus House – All about the Ayurvedic arts, mental, emotional and physical balance. Massage, meditation, yoga, healthy diet, and spiritual arts as well are all involved. The Dom and sub dynamic is subtle. Rigorous testing takes place to even become accepted. Very limited number of spots for Doms and sub.

House Master – Guanlin Zheng

House Mistress – Xiohan Zheng

Master Mark: Sitting Buddha

Sub Mark: A Hibiscus Flower

Secondary Mark: Water lily

Consort Mark: Four-footed colorful Dragon

Houses are located in Taiwan, Washington State, Paris, and Hawaii

There are several smaller independent Houses, like the exclusive Japanese house that teaches the art of making your own instruments through Kumihimo Braiding.  

Houses like Rome House are only accessible by proving heredity. Usually DNA or proof of immediate family.

There are less expensive Houses for the general public that have more spaces available.

Also, there are Government run Houses for those who have had no formal training and they go into some level of law enforcement.

Rivermoon1970

Rivermoon1970

Married with two furbabies who do everything they can to impede my writing process, because you know it's all about them. Fandom, writing, knitting and coloring books are my current life's goals.

4 Comments:

  1. Loving this.

  2. Heartbreaking. So glad it ended on a hopeful note. The vibe from John is very intriguing.

  3. Love, love, love!

  4. Very good. Interesting world building, that you’ve done well

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