- Death - Major Character
- Discussion - Murder
- Explicit Sex
- Violence - Canon-Level
- Challenge Response
- Science Fiction
John quietly moved into Tony’s quarters. Atlantis had easily adjusted to John bringing in the cabinet with his equipment. Tony hadn’t wanted to move Jack. The boy was happy where he was, and he didn’t want to upend the boy’s life more than it already had been.
Tony was sitting on the couch reading to Jack, letting the boy sound out the words as they went. Tony’s arms were around Jack’s waist as his head hooked over the boy’s shoulder. Rodney had found a whole cache of literature geared towards children in one of the data caches they hadn’t previously been able to access because of their power issues.
“Then De-a-nar ran to the ring and wa-ai-ted for his friends to follow,” Jack read along with Tony.
“That’s the thing you and Uncle Spencer and Uncle Rodney and Uncle John walk through?”
“Yeah, kid it is.”
“It doesn’t hurt?”
“No, baby it doesn’t hurt.”
“Okay. Are you a superhero like Daddy?”
Tony took a deep breath and closed his eyes a moment to center himself. John watched from the kitchen while he was getting them something to drink. This tower was one of the first that had reopened after the second ZPM was installed. They had found whole small apartments and family group sizes in this one tower. The first rooms to be inspected and repaired were given to Tony. The kitchen had taken both men a little time to get used to, but it was relatively easy once they figured out how to use the appliances.
John came over and placed some drinks down on the small table in front of the couch and sat next to Tony.
“Kid, your Papa is very much a superhero.”
“I knew it.” Jack sighed as he laid back in Tony’s arms resuming reading the story to himself and only asking Tony when a word looked funny to him. Placing a kiss on his forehead, Jack giggled but continued with the book.
“I thought, if nothing crazy happens over the next couple of days, we could take Jack to the mainland to play with the kids in the settlement.”
“That sounds like a good idea. Would you like that, Jack?”
“Can Uncle Rodney and Uncle Spencer come?”
“We’ll ask. But I can’t promise you anything, okay?”
“Okay.” Jack slid off his lap and grabbed his crayon bucket and a coloring book, then went to his room. Tony watched him the whole way.
“You’re second guessing yourself again.”
“Yeah. I can’t help worrying. I don’t think I’d survive losing him too, John.”
John frowned a little hating to hear that from Tony, but he knew it was a touchy subject, so he steered away from that conversation.
“How is the physical therapy going with the Athosians?”
“It’s going well. They’ve been responding beyond expectations, and the Ancient tech that Carson has been teaching me has helped a lot. Once I get a good grasp on it, I can help more people.”
“Tony, I don’t think I could have asked for someone better to come out here to help us. I’m glad you decided to take the risk.” John laid his head back on the couch and pulled on Tony till his head was on his lap. He gently stroked Tony’s hair, the both of them enjoying the calm. They had a mission the next morning, and they wanted to be ready.
“As crazy as it is our here, I’m glad we came too.”
“McKay, you just had to go and tell them that their spiritual leader was pretending to be an Ancient, didn’t you?” John yelled as they were running from the fire from the blasters that the people of P3X-287 had. Their initial recon of the planet did not show any type of advanced weapons among the inhabitants.
“Yeah, well that man is about as bad as any cult leader back on earth. Tyran, or whatever the hell his name really is, needs to be stopped, and his brand of crazy religion needs to end. These people deserve more.” Rodney shouted back.
Tony was just running and grinning like an idiot. When he turned and looked at John, the Colonel raised a questioning brow.
“What are you grinning at?”
“Just like old times.” Tony chuckled as weapon’s fire narrowly missed his head.
“If this was your old times, no wonder your Dom wanted you under lock and key,” Rodney yelled as he tried to keep up with the group.
“Would all of you just shut up and run,” Teyla shouted at all of them as they made their way back to the jumper. This mission had FUBARed almost from the beginning, but Tony was thinking through and knew what needed to happen. He bit his lip as he ran full out, knowing that John was going to be angry with him and he would most likely receive punishment for it, but before they ran to the clearing where the jumper was, Tony spun on his heels and dropped to his knees.
“What the hell are you doing?” John yelled, and Tony heard the fury in his voice.
“Just trust me, okay?” Tony hissed as he put his hands behind his back and his head down.
The villagers stopped their running right in front of Tony.
“What is this then?” The leader frowned as he walked around Tony.
Tony stayed silent.
“You will answer me.” The man shouted but didn’t raise his weapon.
John cleared his throat as he tried to figure out what the hell Tony was doing.
“He won’t speak unless you tell him it is okay.”
“I don’t understand what this is.” The leader, Carin looked very confused.
“He’s Submitting to you so that you stop being an asshole and attacking us just for telling you the damn truth.” Rodney crossed his arms and glared at the man. John rolled his eyes and counted backward from ten so that he lost the temptation to shoot his best friend.
“Speak,” Carin jabbed Tony in the shoulder with his weapon which made John very itchy to pull the trigger.
“You would not listen to us about what is happening in your village. This seemed like the only way for you to stop your attack and just fucking listen to us.”
“You tell us that we are being manipulated and expect us just to believe you?”
“No, it was why we wanted to show you what this Tyran was doing. You immediately shot at us, remember?” Tony tipped his head up and looked Carin in the eye.
“Fine. We will not kill you, but don’t push my patience.” Carin stepped back to give Tony room to stand, but he just stayed where he was. “Well, get up.”
Tony tried to hide the smirk that formed on his lips as he stood. He waited, still with hands behind his back, head tilted to the side, still displaying his submission to the leader.
“Come on; we have a long walk back.” Tony started to walk in front, then Carin moved up next to Tony and walked with him.
“What just happened,” Teyla whispered in John’s ear.
“Tony just gave the leader of the village back his power. We had taken it for questioning their beliefs in Tyran. By Submitting to Carin directly, Tony let him know that he was in charge. Stupidly brilliant.”
“But dangerous. Tony couldn’t have known it would work. Spencer would kill me if anything happened to Tony.” Rodney frowned and complained as they walked.
“You’re just upset you didn’t think of it.” John smiled when Rodney glared at him.
“Do you Lanteans always talk so much?” Carin growled at them as they continued their way to the village.
Rodney was about to make a comment when John gave him that look that said to shut the hell up. Rodney huffed and attempted to keep quiet the rest of the way. Teyla didn’t try to hide her amusement at the two of them.
When they entered the village, Tyran was waiting for them.
“I knew you would return them, brother.”
“Okay, Prove what you say is true.” Carin moved back and aimed his weapon at Tony’s head. “If you fail, I will kill you.”
John gritted his teeth. He was so going to have a long ‘discussion’ with the Sub about this whole cluster fuck.
“Hello, Tyran all I want you to do is hold this in your hands.” The man looked at Tony skeptically as he held out his hand for the device. “Now, see Carin, that is what we call an Ancient device. You know, the people that you have been worshipping over generations, as you told us when we arrived.”
“Yes. I have seen some of these devices. No one in the village can make them work.” Tony took out another device, on of the toys that Rodney had given Jack to play with. It was a learning toy, but the boy loved it. Tony held it in his hand as the device lit up with the hologram learning program.
“See, similar to what your so-called Ancient is holding in his hand. John?” John flashed Tony a dark look letting the Sub know his displeasure. He walked up to Tyran and took the device out of the man’s hands, and it lit up like Christmas.
“I-I-I do not understand.”
John was about to answer when Carin’s wife, Sonya came out and laid a hand on her husband’s arm.
“It is what I have been telling you, Carin. This man is no prophet. He is no Old One. He spun a web of words that you fell into and believed.”
Carin crumpled, and he looked like his whole world had just shattered.
“Now, husband, why don’t you go meditate and we will take care of this imposter.”
“Come now. You cannot believe these outsiders? Have I not brought you peace? Have I not shown you how to fix your crops, and to clean your water? Have I not loved and cared for you?”
Tyran smiled nervously as Sonya stepped up to him and slapped him across the face.
“You raped my daughter, and you tried to rape Salim’s daughter. You are no spiritual leader. You are no Old One. These people have broken your spell on my husband, and while I would generally leave matters of punishment to him, I will give you to their hands to do with as they will. You are not welcome here.” Sonya spun on her heels and looked at Tony. “Gives us time, Anthony, to heal to undo the damage done here, then come back, and we will talk trade.”
“Sonya,” Teyla moved forward and took the woman’s hand. “There are two excellent mind healers on Atlantis who might be able to help you and your people if you let them, and if you can promise them protection. I do not like to leave knowing how hurt you now are.”
While Teyla was talking with Sonya, John had approached Tyran with a set of cuffs in his hands. The man’s eyes widened, not with fear, but with rage and he attacked. No one had seen the blade in his hand. Tony saw it just seconds too late when John went down, bleeding. Fear flooded him as he dropped to his knees and pressed his hands against John’s wound. He looked up when he heard the noise from several Zats firing at once. Tyran went down.
“Don’t you fucking die on me Sheppard. Not after everything we’ve shared dammit.” Tony swallowed hard as he stared into John’s eyes that clouded over in pain.
“Not gonna happen.” John tried to laugh, but Tony could see the pain that he was in.
Sonya stepped up and kneeled next to Tony.
“Tyran is dead. How can I help you, Anthony?”
“Here, hold your hands around the knife. I have to try to stabilize him. Whatever you do, do not let that knife move, understand?”
Sonya nodded, then Tony and Teyla went to work. A few minutes later they had the wound wrapped as best as they could, and the knife taped down so it wouldn’t move. The Jumper hovered over them, Rodney having called Ford to get his ass over to their location as soon as they could. Ford landed as close as he could to the group. Then, he ran out and helped to get John on the transport.
“We’ll contact you in a few days. But first…”
“We understand. Take care of your Ho’ohaku.” Sonya laid a hand on his knee, “He cares very much for you.”
Tony just stared at the woman wondering about the word she used. The door to the Jumper closed and soon they were passing through the wormhole. Tony was scared that he was going to lose someone else. He wasn’t sure if he could take it if he did.
Sitting in the med lab, Tony knew he was driving Dr. Beckett crazy.
“Lad, you need to go back to yer own quarters. I’ll let you know if there are any changes, I promise.” Tony knew he should leave and concentrate on his son, but seeing John on one of the infirmary beds was driving him crazy.
“I know, Carson. It’s just…”
“I know, but there isn’t anything you can do for him lad. You can’t make yourself sick, and that’s what you are doing. He’ll come out when he’s good and ready. The knife was a clean entry, and the surgery went well. He will be all right, but he will be very upset if he finds ye here worrying.”
Tony nodded and stood up. He took one last look at John and made his way back to his rooms. Tony had canceled all physical therapy sessions till he knew that John was going to be okay. Tony was almost to his quarters when he saw Teyla approaching.
“How is he?”
“Carson said he’s going to be fine. I didn’t want to leave. He all but kicked me out.”
“Yes, Carson does not like when people hover. He has thrown both John and Rodney out of the Med lab on several occasions. You know there was a time when we all thought that those two would become more than friends.”
“They do seem close.”
“Yes, but, you have been good for John. He watches himself more when in the field since you came to Atlantis. He is not as foolishly reckless as he was.”
“That is somehow comforting.”
“I came to find you because Dr. Weir would like to speak with you.”
“Yes. Would you like me to walk with you?”
“Thank you, Teyla, I’d be grateful.”
The silence between them was warm and comforting. Tony was finding a kinship with Teyla, and it surprised the hell out of him. He liked her alot. She reminded him of a quieter Kate. Teyla could certainly give back as good as she got, but unlike Kate, Teyla had absolutely nothing to prove.
“Well, I will leave you to it. I will go check on John.”
Tony took a deep breath and knocked on the door.
“Come in.” Dr. Weir’s voice didn’t sound upset or anxious. Tony wasn’t sure what this was about. The door slid open when he hit the control panel. Then he walked through.
“Mr. DiNozzo. Please have a seat.”
“May I ask what this is about, Dr.?”
“Tony, please how many times have I said to call me Elizabeth.”
Weir laughed as she took her seat and leaned forward on her desk.
“How are you doing with fitting in, Tony?”
“It’s been good. Look, Elizabeth, why are we doing this now?”
“I just want to know what happened out there. I read the reports, but I would like to hear it from you.”
Tony blew out a breath and sat back. He told her everything about the village, about Tyran and the tentative agreement they had made with the Makesh, as they called themselves.
“What concerns me, Tony is that you used your Submission. Now, I’m not saying it was the wrong tactic in this case, but we have run into several societies that are similar to ours when it comes to domination and submission. Many of the people we have encountered have been gracious and welcoming, but some have not. A society that calls themselves the Imina, they had tried to keep Dr. McKay because he had Submitted to John when it came to some tech they had on the planet. It became violent when John wouldn’t leave Rodney there. I just want you to be aware that it can be dangerous.”
Tony wondered if he should be angry that Weir was telling him this, but then in the back of his mind he heard not just Aaron, but John and even Gibbs telling him to listen.
“Duly noted, Ma’am. I will be careful.”
“Because if you get hurt or kidnapped, I have no idea what John would do. He would probably talk Rodney into blowing up the whole planet, and Rodney would probably do it.”
Tony tried not to laugh. The situation wasn’t really that funny. Tony had gotten to know the dynamic between John and Rodney well enough by now to understand that Rodney would literally do anything for John. Tony frowned a moment, and his thoughts strayed to when he and Gibbs used to be that close. He pushed down on those memories and knew that it wouldn’t do him any good to dwell on them.
“I don’t doubt a word of that Elizabeth.”
“John is going to be fine. He’s come through tougher things than this.”
“Like giant bugs that feed on people?”
“Like giant bugs that feed on people.” What wasn’t said was the video Tony had seen of John being fed on by a Wraith. He was almost glad that they hadn’t been together then because if he felt for John then what he did now, Tony would have torn the very gates of heaven and hell wide open to get the man back.
When he finally got back to his quarters, Tony wanted a shower then he would visit Spencer in his lab. He had been working with Engineering the past few months to understand the inner workings of the city. He had also been trying to crack the ZPM problem. With Lt. Colonel Carter’s research along with McKay’s research Spencer felt that there was a solution that was staring them right in the face, they just weren’t seeing it.
Stepping into the shower, Tony let the warm water wash over him as he bowed his head and sent up a little prayer for John to be alright. He knew intellectually that he was going to be fine, but there was always that fear that their time together was going to run out.
Stepping out of the shower, Tony looked at himself and saw the changes that had come over him over the last eight months. Tony was leaner in his body. His skin had darkened which made the green of his eyes more prominent. Tony had more calluses on his hands, but some of the dark shadows under his eyes had lifted, and the early lines on his face had smoothed out. He was eating better, sleeping better and a sense of peace that he had not been able to find back home had settled over him.
Tony turned around and stared at his Consort mark, something he had not done in a while. He still ached deep in his soul, but the acute pain was no longer there. Tony knew he would probably have a part of him that would always grieve over Aaron’s loss, but he felt that he was letting go a little more each day. Tony turned away and toweled himself off, then padded into the bedroom that he shared with John and saw how much their lives had intertwined with each other.
Comms, earwigs, stray ammo, data pads, and more mingled together and Tony knew it had all happened organically. He was letting John in more and more. Tony shook himself out of those thoughts as he grabbed a fresh pair of boxers and slipped them on, then the BDU’s and a t-shirt. Tony took off his dog tags, which John had insisted on since Tony was going on first contact missions, and laid them on the dresser. Taking a deep breath he set aside the feelings that he knew were there for the Dom he was falling in love with. He couldn’t think about that right now, not while John was still in the infirmary still asleep and healing from a severe knife wound.
Leaving the room, Tony went in search of his son and Spencer. It didn’t take long because he was right where he thought they would be, but Spencer was smiling wide. He was very animated about something when Tony walked in.
“I’m telling you, Rodney, I think this is going to work. Basically, the ZPMs are big batteries. Now the naquadah we have, and the supply that we have found could potentially power up almost every empty ZPM on Atlantis. The naquadah and the energy for the ZPM are similar. I believe that the Ancients used some sort of energy exchange to power up the ZPMs. We just have to find this room here on Atlantis, and I can almost guarantee you that it is going to be a conversion chamber.”
“But you don’t know that, Spencer.”
“I’ve found that Spencer’s intuition is only rivaled by that of one Leroy Jethro Gibbs, second b for bastard. Spencer doesn’t think linear like you do, McKay. I know you call yourself the smartest man in two galaxies, but Spencer is pretty goddamned smart as well. You might want to listen.”
McKay stopped mid-sentence to look between Tony and Spencer, then threw up his hands in exasperation.
“And if you’re wrong you’ll have wasted precious energy on a damned fool’s errand.”
“But if I’m right, we can recharge the empty ZPM canisters we keep finding all over this place. There has to be some kind of charging station Rodney, the Ancients were very smart, they would not have kept these intact if there wasn’t a reason to. They would have recycled the materials once they were depleted, but they didn’t so that has to mean something.”
“Plus, the kid is really good at reading maps.”
McKay opened and closed his mouth almost like a fish out of water. Spencer tried to hide the snicker that slipped out as he watched his Sub flounder trying to find a reason not to go and locate the room that Spencer suspected was an energy conversion station.
“Fine, okay, but we are taking Ford, Lorne, and Teyla. We have no idea what is there because we have not explored that part of the city. Though it’s going to light up like a damned Christmas tree with you just walking through the damned halls.”
“Just don’t let John know you’re using his kid brother as a light up toy.”
“I am doing no such thing, DiNozzo.”
“Oh, I think you are McManipulator. You know very well that Atlantis loves the Sheppards and she will respond to them like no one else. You take Spencer to part of this station you haven’t explored, and she is going to open up like a blushing bride on her honeymoon.”
Spencer laughed like he hadn’t for a long time and it was good to see. Even if this actually did turn into a fool’s mission, at least Spencer was enjoying himself.
“Now, where is my kid?”
“Oh, I set him down over there with some more books that we downloaded. He’s soaking them up. We even found a primer on rudimentary Ancient, and he has picked it up quickly.”
“Really? Aaron wanted to get him tested before he started school. If he is absorbing stuff this fast, I don’t think he’ll be able to go to the Athosian school. He’s going to bypass them quickly.” Tony walked to where Jack and fallen asleep in the chair. Smiling, he gently picked the boy up and held him close.
“Papa,” Jack sighed and snuggled close to Tony.
“Yeah, kid. I think it’s nap time.”
“Is Uncle John okay?”
“He’s going to be just fine, Kiddo, I promise.”
“Love you, Papa.” Tony snuggled Jack close as he said his goodbyes to Rodney and Spencer.
As he walked out the door, he whispered softly in Jack’s ear, “I love you too, buddy.”
Spencer was looking all over the city for John. He wasn’t answering his comm, and he really needed to find him. Spencer was worried about Tony, who had dropped Jack off with him and Rodney and said he needed a couple of hours. Spencer didn’t think anything of it till he saw the date.
Finally, after finding him in the gym sparring with Ronon, Spencer felt a little bit of relief.
“John, I think you need to find Tony.”
The two sparring men stopped and turned towards Spencer, John frowned as he grabbed a towel and wiped his face.
“Spence?” John knew his brother well enough that if he was worried about something he needed to listen.
Spencer looked back and forth between Ronon and John, not wanting to voice what he thought was happening in front of the bigger man.
“Ronon.” John tilted his head towards the showers, thankfully the Satedan understood and said his goodbyes. “Kid, what’s going on?”
“Tony dropped Jack off with Rodney and I. He didn’t look…right.” Spencer took a breath as he looked down at his shoes, the date weighing heavy on him as well. “It’s been a year, today.”
“Shit.” John quickly wiped down and threw his BDU’s back on, then went to go find his Sub. John almost tripped up at that thought, but shook his head and went to try to find Tony. It didn’t take him long, he looked the first place he thought the man would go and luckily his instincts had been right. Tony was standing on the edge of his favored pier. John’s worry deepened as he studied the rigid stance of the man in front of him. Spencer was right. Something was very wrong. John carefully walked to the end of the pier and stood next to Tony.
The silence between them stretched on, but John was patient. He had learned early on that Tony would talk when he needed to and to force him was to push him away.
“A year.” Tony visibly swallowed as his eyes stayed on the gently rolling water below them. “Someone’s life can change so much in a year. I can’t… where did that time go?” Tony’s voice was way too calm and quiet for John’s liking.
“Life moves on for all of us, Tony. It’s how we deal with those changes that define us.”
“I never took it off. Never.” Emotion choked his throat as Tony turned his head to look at John, who took in a sharp breath as he now understood what was going on. “I promised him that I would never take if off.” Tony opened his hand where he had an almost death grip on the collar that Aaron had given him.
“Tony…” John had no clue what to say at this moment.
“Have you ever collared anyone, John?” Tony turned his body away from the water making John let out a breath he wasn’t even aware he had been holding. Tony’s voice sounded odd, thin and quiet. And it scared John. He tried to imagine the trauma Tony was going through, he wished the Sub had done this with him, in the safety of their quarters.
“Never wanted to, ‘til you,” John confessed as he took a tentative step closer to Tony. He had an idea of what was happening, and he knew he had to be very, very careful how he proceeded from here. Someone so close to a drop, any number of things could go wrong, and John didn’t want to make a bad move.
“You’re a bastard.” The tears that slipped down Tony’s face twisted something in John’s gut, he couldn’t lose Tony, not now, not after finding him after all this time.
“You kinda knew that, but what did I do?”
Tony looked down at his shaking hand and didn’t even try to stop the emotions he was feeling.
“You made me love you. Fuck. You made me fucking fall in love with you, you fucking bastard,” Tony yelled as he balled his other fist at his side.
“And that scares you?”
“Yes!” Tony yelled again as he slowly sank to his knees gripping the collar he had taken off in his hand. John got down next to Tony and pulled him into his arms. He knew the crash was coming, John knew he needed to get Tony back to his room and take care of him as Tony worked through the drop he had fallen into.
“Tony,” John brushed a kiss against Tony’s forehead, holding him close, letting him purge the emotions he had held onto so tightly over the months they had known each other. “Come on, Tone. Let me take care of you.” John slowly pulled Tony to his feet and led him back to their quarters.
John’s heart was breaking seeing the typically strong man who used masks to hide behind. He had slowly been peeling back the layers of Tony DiNozzo to find the truth of him. John had figured that after Aaron died, Tony locked down tight on those masks, letting very few people in. Spencer had been there for as much as he could, but John felt that Tony had been holding back. Hearing his confession had shaken John a little, but he told Tony the truth. John had not wanted to collar anyone, especially after the events that got him stationed at McMurdo. He had closed himself off as much as the man in his arms. He did want to offer one now, to Tony, but not till they could talk and be completely honest with each other.
Tony gripped Aaron’s collar tight in his hand and tried to work through the conflicting emotions as he was led back to their quarters. Jack was playing on the floor, Teyla had taken him for the day when she went to the mainland to check on the children in the settlement.
“John?” She looked up as Tony was being led to the bedroom. “Why don’t I take Jack for the evening. Looks like you need to talk.”
“Thank you, Teyla.” John heard the door shutting as Teyla left the apartment. He pulled out the Sub bench and guided Tony to it, settling him down on it. “Now, tell me what happened.”
“We came back from P3X-287 and seeing you in the med bay…”
“Hey, I’m alright Tony. I’m here nothing happened to me.”
“I know, I know it’s just at that moment, it made me realize that I had fallen in love with you. But, I knew I couldn’t move forward, if that’s what you want, with Aaron’s collar still on. I knew…I knew I had to take it off.”
“Why didn’t you come to me, Tone?” John laid a hand on Tony’s cheek as he looked down into the very green eyes that had captured him almost four years prior.
“I wanted you to see me, uncollared, ready for whatever this is that is growing between us. I wanted you to see me, untethered.”
John blew out a breath as he slowly sat on the end of the bed. This was a huge moment between them, and John was blown away by Tony’s gesture.
“I would have helped you. You did not have to go through that alone, Tony. Yes, I want you as my Sub, my partner, and eventually, if we get there, my husband. You never have to do things alone. I wouldn’t want you to.”
Tony slowly opened his hand and held it out for John. At first, he wasn’t sure what Tony wanted till he gently took it out of Tony’s hand.
“You don’t have to get rid of it Tony. We’ll find something special to put it in.”
John stood and walked to his nightstand and took out the box he had in there for almost six months. Never finding the right time to present it. He wasn’t sure if now was, but he had a feeling that this was what today was leading up to. Making the decision quickly, he sat back down on the bed in front of Tony, who was still kneeling.
“I had this made a while ago. I knew from the moment I saw you again that if I ever had the chance, I wanted to make you mine. You don’t have to accept right now, I know what a big decision this is, but you should at least know.” John held out the box for Tony to take.
Sitting back on his heels Tony slowly opened the box and blew out the breath he had been holding. Inside was a gorgeous metal collar with a green gem in the center.
“They call it a Dragon’s Eye. I saw it at the markets on PX2-821 with the express purpose of putting it in a collar. Green for your eyes. The jeweler I commissioned it from had a small supply of platinum, he had it done in in a few days time.”
Tony looked up, his eyes were swimming with want and need. He didn’t even think before he was saying yes. John dropped to his knees and took the box out of Tony’s hands. Gently he lifted the collar up to Tony’s neck and waited a moment.
“I want this, Sir.” Tony held John’s gaze as the Dom slipped the cool metal around his throat and fastened it. John leaned forward and kissed Tony and felt the quick shudder as Tony settled.
“And for the record, I love you too, Anthony Dimitri DiNozzo.”
The morning meeting started out like most. Everyone filed in, coffee was poured, the geeks complained about the dwindling supply, and the department heads all seated around the conference table ready to discuss where everyone was at. Except for this morning, they were all staring, mouth agape at Tony and at McKay.
“Are we going to have to talk about this? Share our feelings and get our all our kumbayas out? Seriously stop staring, it’s a collar, so yes we did a thing last night not that all of you nosey people need to know or make a big deal about it” McKay glared at everyone at the table.
“No, and congratulations, to both of you.” Weir smiled and broke the stupor that everyone was in. “Okay, let us get started, shall we? I’d like to hear from you, Tony. How is the physical therapy coming?”
“Commander Lorne’s shoulder is almost back in shape. I think another two weeks should do it. I’m going to release him for milk runs only and maybe secondary missions. I’ve been working with one of the men from the mainland who had a broken leg that he didn’t get the proper care for. I’ve consulted with Carson and we both agree that the best thing is for us is to re-break it, set it properly then have him stay on the station for rehab. He was afraid to say anything because he is like Teyla. He has Wraith DNA.”
“Dammit. I cannot believe that Halling is still letting superstition override common sense.” Teyla tried to keep her anger in check.
“We will do as much for him as we can, Teyla.”
“I know you will Dr. Weir. And I thank you again for all that you do to help my people.”
“Dr. Reid, you said in your reports that you had something for us?”
Spencer smiled wide as he set his datapad down.
“The room that we found is indeed an energy conversion room. We have all wondered just how the ZPM’s are powered. Even Dr. Carter’s research has not really made a dent in what we know about them. While her research was impeccable, the connection that the ZPM’s are some form of converted naquadah didn’t even cross her mind. The energies are similar, just not similar enough. I spent some time searching what we have already deciphered of the Ancient database about the energy conversion room. When both John and I were in there, several panels slid out, and basically, they looked like giant battery recharging stations. There are ten bays. Now, we don’t have enough energy left in the ZPM that was found earlier in the year to power them all at once, but if we can get one charged fully, then we can work on getting another one and do this in slow increments. I can guess that we can have five fully recharged ZPM’s within the next two months.”
“The problem that we have now, not enough supply of naquadah to do that.” Zelenka put his datapad down on the table and looked over at Rodney who was thinking the same thing he was.
“And the planet with a generous supply of naquadah…” Rodney turned to John and pressed his lips together in a grimace.
“Is the Genii.” John finished Rodney’s sentence.
“Shit.” Dr. Weir pushed back from her place at the table and covered her mouth with her hand, thinking.
“Those are the really bad guys that tried to take over the city?”
“Yes. John hunted down and killed their commander. I wish that it hadn’t come to that, but he just kept coming after us.”
“And there is a new person in place?”
“Yes. No, Tony, no. You are not going to go to the Genii homeworld.” John turned to Tony with a glare that almost reminded him of Aaron.
“You forget why I was brought out here.” Tony glared back at his Dom, who looked like he was on the verge of ordering him to stay put.
“I’m not going to risk you with those crazy mother fuckers. We can get naquadah somewhere else.”
“How rich is the planet and do they still want C4?”
“Tony! I’m putting my foot down. This one is not ever going to be up for debate.” John shoved away from the table and stormed out of the meeting.
“I think you need to read about the invasion of the City and what it was that John had been forced to do. I’m sorry Tony, I agree with him. We cannot reason with the Genii.”
“Maybe your approach has been all wrong. This is what I do Elizabeth. An interrogation is really just a negotiation. A different type, yes, but essentially you are negotiating with the bad guy to get the information you want. This is what I do, Elizabeth,” Tony reiterated. “This is what you expect me to do and now, just because I’m John’s collared you are all afraid of letting me do the thing I’m good at.”
“Tony, this has nothing to do with your dynamic and everything to do with how dangerous the Genii are.”
“Then lend me the best you have. Let me take Ronon and a couple of badass Marines. I’m not helpless. Just because I didn’t go through Marine training doesn’t mean I don’t know what I’m doing.”
“I’m sorry, Tony. I cannot authorize this.” Weir gave him that stare that he knew so well from all the other leaders he has ever worked with. The whole this is my kingdom and you’ll obey my law. Tony hated that look, and he hated not being taken seriously. He would take the day to watch the feed of the invasion of the city and study everything they had on the Genii. He wasn’t going to let this go.
The meeting adjourned, and Tony left, but Teyla caught up to him, grabbed him by the arm and shoved him into an empty room.
“I know what you are thinking, Anthony and it is a foolish course of action.” Teyla looked pissed.
“If I take Ronon and a couple of really badass Marines, I can do this, Teyla. Why does no one trust me in this?”
“Because you do not understand what the Genii put us through.”
“Then let me understand. Give me everything on the Genii, let me study them.”
Teyla crossed her arms and shook her head.
“You are just as horribly stubborn as the Colonel, you know that?”
Tony grinned that grin he used when he knew he had won part of the battle. Now he just needed to convince John to let him go. If not, he would find a way to go anyway.
Tony groaned as he woke up in the cell that Commander Korra had thrown him into. He had done his homework, lots of homework and thought that he had his persona down pat. He underestimated the Genii, and he knew if he was getting out of this, John was going to be pissed. Ronon was probably out there searching for him now, but Tony knew he wasn’t anywhere near the Genii settlement. No one knew about the beam they had installed in their home base to move quickly to the underground bunkers. Tony knew Ronon was going to be pissed. He was supposed to be Tony’s back-up with the two marines that came with them. Tony had not counted on Sora and her deep hatred of the Lanteans.
“Let me guess, it was my natural charm and good looks that gave me away?” Tony tried to smirk at the Commander, but his lips were split and bleeding. He felt his left eye closing from the beating he had already taken. Ribs bruised, possibly broken and his right leg might be broken as well, he wasn’t sure.
“That’s a smart mouth on you.”
“I get that a lot.”
Korra grabbed his collar which pissed Tony off. He vowed if he got out of this, the man was getting his own beating for even thinking of touching what was John’s.
“I just may have to find a way to make you learn to keep your mouth shut.”
“Well, it isn’t like I haven’t been tied up and roughed over a bit before today, though it usually isn’t so harsh and I kinda like it, I have to say that you have a warped sense of hospitality.” Korra backhanded Tony, which was going to leave a nasty bruise. John was so going to be pissed.
“Tell me where you are from.” Korra glared at him as he bent down face to face with Tony.
“Oh, what, do you want to meet the parents? Gee, I don’t know this is only our first date, we have no idea if this is even a thing. Maybe a few more dates, hell we haven’t even had our first kiss.” Tony was trying to keep Korra distracted to see if he could get out of the restraints he was in. He wasn’t paying close enough attention when the punch to his gut hand him falling forward. “Fuck me.” He yelled.
Korra grabbed his hair and pushed him back hard against the chair.
“That mouth of yours, maybe I need to find a better use for it.”
For the first time since being taken, Tony was genuinely scared. There was nothing that frightened him more than having his Submission, the thing he treasured and gave freely to those he cared about, forced from him. He knew this could break him, but he just had to keep Korra talking, even if it meant he was physically hurt, as long as that was all, till John could get there, he would be okay.
Korra let his hair go, then slowly walked around the chair. Tony’s heart was racing when he felt the restraints being loosened, then he was being forced to stand. He thought about swinging out, but Korra grabbed his wrists in an iron grip as he slapped the restraints back on. Tony’s upper arm was then grabbed, and he was forced to walk out of the cell. Tony didn’t want to even consider where they might be going. He stumbled along, trying to assess his injuries and knew, that he had at least a fracture in his leg, whether it was broken, he wasn’t able to tell. When they entered Korra’s personal quarters, Tony knew he was fucked.
“Get on your knees.”
“Seriously, I may have a broken fucking leg, and you want me to Submit to you, you sick fuck?”
Korra’s smile had Tony shaking on the inside.
“I like them a little broken. On. Your. Knees.” Korra then took out his blaster and pointed it at Tony’s head. For a moment, just a small moment, he thought about defying Korra, but he knew if he died, it would break John and if he could help it, Tony was not going to let John go through what he went through. Tony thought of Aaron and knew if there really was an afterlife the man would be pissed if he let himself get killed. Slowly, but with anger and defiance in his eyes, he got on his knees. Korra brought chains, and by the time he was done, Tony only had on his pants, and he was bound with his arms above his head.
“You know that whatever you do to me, it’s rape. I do not Submit to you, and you can go to fucking hell you bastard.” Tony glared as the man had a strange energy whip in his hand. Tony swallowed and reached deep down inside to find the will to hold on.
By the time John and two squads of Marines had spilled out of several jumpers that landed near the Genii settlement, fully armed and armored, he was pissed. He marched into the middle of the village and raised his P90 at the first person he saw.
“You tell me where the man you took captive is and I just ‘might’ let you live.”
“Colonel Sheppard, I’m not sure I know what you are talking about.” Sora walked up to him and crossed her arms. “Are you telling me a Lantean spy was in our midst?”
“I am past playing games with you and your people. We came here originally as friends. It isn’t my fault you are all crazy, stupid motherfuckers who can’t see past your own goddamned narcissistic selves. I’m out of patience. I will order my men to start firing if you don’t take me to my man.”
“You are bluffing.”
“Was I bluffing when I closed the Gate on your people to keep them off of Atlantis?” John pointed a gun directly at her face.
“Sora, back off. Now!” A new voice came from the side and John didn’t even flinch. Sora glared at Teyla was was standing next to John.
“Who are you?”
“I am Ladon Radim. I am the new leader of the Genii. I was preparing a diplomatic package to be sent to your people to try to re-open negotiations, without prejudice. I can’t take back what the previous leaders did, Sheppard, but I was hoping we could move past it and see how we can help each other with our common enemy.”
“And why should I believe you?”
“You shouldn’t. I don’t expect you to. Trust, for both of us, needs to be earned. We broke trust with you immediately, and for that I am sorry.”
“Is being tried for war crimes against your people.”
“Where is my man.” John kept the gun poised on the Genii woman who looked scared, but he did not care. He was past caring when it came to the Genii.
“He is being interrogated by our new commander, Korra Denarin. I will take you to the holding cells. But only if you put your weapon down.”
“You can’t do this, Ladon.”
“Sora, you’re in no position to tell me what I can and cannot do. Your deep seated misplaced anger at these people will not be tolerated for much longer.”
“No. I will not hear another word from you.” Ladon turned his back on her and John just raised a brow at this new leader.
“Come, I will take you to your man.” John signaled for some of the men to stay their positions, he took Teyla, Ronon, and Lorne with him. They traveled in silence as they descended below, then through the underground bunker. When they got to the cells, only one Guard and Cowen were there.
“Where is the detainee, Trace?”
“Sir, Korra took the prisoner to his quarters, Sir.”
Before either Teyla or Ronon could stop him, John fisted his hand in Ladon’s shirt and pulled the guy into his body, so they were practically sharing breath.
“If that man has so much as touched a single hair on my collared Sub, he is dead.”
“NO! I mean it. One single hair out of place and your man is dead.” John scowled at the Genii leader before he released Ladon.
“Come on, I’ll show you the way.”
John was vibrating with rage. He was so going to have words with Elizabeth when they get back to the city.
If looks could actually kill, then Korra should have been dead. He would not give the man what he wanted as he was hit once again with the whip. He didn’t cry out, he didn’t even flinch, but each hit was like fire. He just held out hope for John to get there.
“Not so mouthy now are you.” Korra threw the whip to the side after turning it off. Tony wanted to sag in the chains as pain radiated from his arms and down his body. His back, he didn’t even want to think about any damage done to the mark. He tried not let any tears fill his eyes as everything in him fought to hold on.
“You’re a piece of chickenshit scumbag. First chance I get, I will kill you.”
“Oh, when I’m done with you, you will be begging for me to kill you.” Korra stood in front of Tony and undid his pants. His cock was hard in his underclothes, and Tony was physically repulsed by the idea of it coming anywhere near him. “I will make you take it.”
Tony clamped down on his mouth, even the hand around his throat didn’t get him to open up. He was about to pass out when the snick of a door was heard, making Korra immediately turn around.
“What the hell is going on here?” Ladon looked murderous. “And for godsakes man put yourself back to rights.” Before he could, John was on him. The punch was swift and hard as Korra fell to the floor. The crack of his head against the floor made everyone wince, and when he tried to get up, Teyla pointed her weapon at him.
“I would not do that if I were you.” The keys to the locks on the chains had fallen out of Korra’s pants, and John was on them. He unlocked the locks and had Tony in his arms.
“Jesus Christ, Tony,” John growled with emotion as Tony fell weakly into his Dom’s arms. “I’m so mad at you right now, but you’re alive. Fuck, I thought…I thought you were gone.” Tony’s throat closed as emotion choked him up.
John helped him to stand, and walked towards Teyla. When Tony was close enough, he grabbed her pistol, turned in John’s arms and aimed it at Korra’s head.
“Told you I’d kill you, you sick fucking bastard.” Without warning, Tony pulled the trigger dead center of Korra’s head.
He pointed it at Ladon’s head next.
“I may not have a lot of strength left, but you tell me right now who the fuck allowed him to do this to me?”
“It was me.” Sora had followed the group and moved forward, defiance and anger in her eyes.
“So, did you know that sick bastard was going to rape me?” Tony yelled as he led the gun up to her face, no one had said a thing at first as shock over what Tony had done had kept them in a momentary stupor.
“NO! No I…I just thought he was going to try to get you to take us back to Atlantis.”
Tony was barely holding on. The last three days were worse than Somalia. That he knew what he was walking into, it had all been meticulously planned. Tony knew he was going to get taken. But this, this wasn’t like anything he had ever gone through before.
“I should kill you too.”
“Tone,” John said quietly in his ear. “You need to put the gun down. I know, okay. I know, but she isn’t worth it.”
Tony swallowed as he stared at the woman. “You are a nasty, bitter woman who can’t get your fucking head out of your ass. Your Father was military. He died on a mission. Yet you can’t even put blame where it belongs. The Wraith did it. This wasn’t some damn…” Tony slid down in pain, shock was starting to set in.
“We need to get him out of here.” Ronon came in and picked Tony easily up in his arms, then started back to one of the jumpers.
“Look, we all have made mistakes, but every single one of you needs to wake the fuck up. We are not your goddamned enemy. They are.” John pointed up to the sky to indicate the Wraith. “Now, if you can see that we could only benefit each other and help each other we would be stronger.” John turned to Sora and stepped into her personal space. “If there is any permanent damage on him, I will come back here, and I will inflict that damage on you. No matter what it is and no one here is going to fucking stop me.”
John stormed out of the room and made his way back to the jumper where Tony was being looked after by Carson.
“He’s in shock, dehydrated and I bet they gave him no food. The burns on his back, I treated as best I could till we get back to the City. I gave him a sedative that will keep him calm till we get there.”
“But he’s going to be okay, yes?”
Carson’s expression softened, and he laid a hand on John’s arm, “He will be fine, physically, but I canna tell you how he will be mentally.”
The other men were making their way back to the Jumpers, Teyla having taken the lead. When Ladon and some of the others made their way forward, John was tempted to point his P90 at them, but he held back, barely.
“I don’t know how we can move forward from this, but I have something for you. It was what your man was trying to negotiate for. We have an abandoned mine at these coordinates. It went into disrepair because of the Wraith. They kept to the miners. If you help us repair it and figure a way to protect it, we will make a trade agreement. Trust, I realize needs to be earned.”
“Yes, yes it does and your people have broken it one too many times. But, we will check this out and if it’s good, we’ll talk.”
“That’s all we ask.” Ladon stepped aside, and three large boxes were set in front of the Jumpers. Teyla checked them over and found nothing wrong.
“They appear clean and free of any explosives.”
“Thank you. We will consider this your olive branch. Don’t let us down.” John had Ronon deal with getting the cases of naquadah onto the jumpers. He didn’t want to leave Tony, not for anything in the world.
“What would you like to talk about today, Tony?” Dr. Heightmeyer asked as she leaned back in her chair.
Tony frowned as he looked down at his leg that was still in a cast. It had indeed been broken, almost as he felt inside. The pain of guilt for getting captured then tortured had eased a little. He was stuck on the almost rape and the scars across his Consort mark even though Carson assured him he would help them fade over time, the damage had still been done. It still hurt, and he had nightmares. Something that had not happened to him in a very long time.
“The scars.” Tony twisted his fingers together keeping his eyes on his hands, not looking up at the Doctor.
“What about them?”
Tony wiped away the moisture that leaked from his eyes.
“You know I’m a marked Consort.”
“You know the man who did it was my Dom who was killed.”
“We have talked about that. I do remember you telling me.”
“The scars, they…” Tony looked away. He couldn’t get the words out as he sat there shaking from the emotional pain.
“Tony, this is a safe place. Anything you tell me will not leave this room, you know that.”
Tony turned back to look at her, the silent tears fell.
“Aaron designed my mark. He knew when to add to it and when to hold back. He placed it with care as I learned and grew in my Submission to him. It is the single most precious thing on my body and now…”
“You think it’s been ruined?”
Tony nodded. “John is still upset with me and Jack… God, Jack. How could I have been so foolish? Why the hell did I come out here? I should have stayed home, maybe. I-I don’t know.”
“And if you had stayed back on Earth, you think you would have been in less danger?”
Tony laid his head back and tried not to let himself slip into the depression he knew he was on the verge of.
“No. No, I wouldn’t have been in less danger.”
“Tony, do you think that the scars somehow have lessened the meaning of the path you took to become a Consort? Do you think the gift that Aaron had given you is tainted somehow?”
Tony blew out a breath as he gently sat forward.
“A part of me believes that but the other part tells me that nothing will taint what we had. I don’t know what to believe right now.”
“What I think is that you need to forgive yourself.”
Tony shook his head as he worked his jaw back and forth.
“How can I forgive myself? I almost threw what John and I found away. How do I come back from that?”
“You talk, you listen to each other. You tried to do a good thing for all of us, and in the end, people who were once an enemy, we now have an open dialogue with. You did that Tony.”
“Right. Well, this had been a blast.” Tony stood and grabbed the crutches he was still using. He still didn’t trust a lot of the alien tech. Carson did what he could with the technology he had, but some of Tony’s injuries had to heal the old fashioned way.
“Look, Dr. Kate, I appreciate this, I do, so I will come back tomorrow. I just…Let me do this at my own pace.”
Kate nodded, and Tony left her office. He made his way to his quarters and collapsed on the bed. After his leg was healed, he was going to need to work out to get back in shape, but at the moment all he wanted to was try to get some sleep, which had been very elusive since his rescue.
He heard the door chime, then it opened. Tony heard little feet, and his heart did little flips. Wiping his eyes, he sat up and waited for Jack to run into the room.
“Papa!” Jack yelled as he crawled onto the bed and pressed his little body next to Tony’s.
“Dr. Kate make you better, Papa?”
Tony reached down and pulled Jack, so he was sitting in his lap. Tony brushed the boy’s hair out of his face and tried not to think that he almost made Jack an orphan.
“Not yet, kiddo, but we’re working on it.”
“Where does it hurt?” Jack asked as he put a hand on Tony’s heart.
“It hurts there, but it hurts here too.” Tony pointed to his head.
“Because your Papa didn’t listen to someone who is just a little smarter. I thought I could be a superhero, but you know what?”
“I’m human, just like you, or Uncle Spencer, or Uncle Rodney, or anyone else.”
Jack leaned forward and kissed the spot on Tony’s shirt right where his heart was.
“That’s okay, Papa. I love you.”
Tony finally looked up to see who had brought Jack back. When he saw those blue eyes that he had fallen for he just stared for a moment.
“Hey kiddo, can you go to your room and play for a bit? Papa and your Uncle John need to talk.”
“Okay.” Jack slid off the bed, ran around it to give Tony a kiss on the cheek, then tottered off towards his own room. It was only when the door slid shut that any words were spoken.
“Hey.” John sat at the edge of the bed.
“Hey. I thought you would be another day or so.”
“Rodney was able to get the shield fixed for the Irian’s. They even were willing to give him the research on how to build one of our own.” John reached out and grabbed Tony’s hand to bring it up to his lips. He kissed each knuckle, then the back of Tony’s hand. “I already said I’m not going to punish you. I think you are punishing yourself too much. Weir sanctioned the op, and you had Ronon and your two badass Marines. Tony, you had no way to know that Sora was going to go batshit and sell you out. Ronon is still kicking himself for not moving in when he had a chance. I just wish you had trusted me to tell me first. I had to find out after you left. But, I want to start to put this behind us.”
“So, you aren’t…”
“I’m not what?”
“Leaving me?” Tony’s gut churned at the thought of John not wanting this that was between them.
“No, Tone, I’m not leaving you. I just…I needed a few days to cool off. If I didn’t, I think I would have gone back there and killed every single person who believed they could touch you.”
Tony lifted a brow at the possessive tone in John’s voice.
“You know that shouldn’t be as hot as it is, right?” Tony smiled, but even he knew it wasn’t the same smile. That would take time.
“What?” John frowned.
“You being all possessive and shit.”
“So, we put this behind us as best we can, and we move on. It doesn’t mean that we won’t talk about this, about us because it’s been made very clear to me that I have a problem with expressing my emotions.”
“It’s just my luck.” Tony shook his head as he sat up in the bed a little more.
“And what does that mean?”
“That I keep falling for emotionally stunted jackasses.”
“Yeah, well get used to it DiNozzo.”
John leaned forwards and kissed Tony like a man that had been drowning, and maybe he was, maybe they both were, but Tony knew they would get through this and come out stronger.
It took time and talking, lots of talking. To Dr. Kate, to John, to Ronon, but Tony was healing mentally and physically. He and John grew closer and finally when he was ready he went to see Weir about what had happened.
“Tony, have a seat, please.” Tony lowered himself into the chair across from Elizabeth’s desk, setting the cane he was now using up against the desk.
“I’ve talked to Ronon, but not the two Marines that went to the Genii homeworld with me. I want to know exactly what happened.”
“I thought you might. Everything is on your datapad, Tony.” Weir was watching him carefully for a moment before she continued. “I’m sorry for what you went through. I am just as responsible, Tony.”
“Elizabeth, don’t…” Elizabeth held up her hand to stop him saying anymore.
“I am the leader of this expedition, and ultimately all of you are my responsibility, no matter what happens. I let you persuade me, even though I knew it was extremely dangerous. But, there was some good that came out of it. We have better, open communication with them and we are starting small. Ladon promises that he will be evaluating everyone that has any contact with us and will do everything he can to build the trust that was broken.”
“And you believe him?”
“I do. The supply of naquadah that Ladon initially sent with you, he gave freely as reparations to us for what they have put us through.”
“And Spencer said that he has already recharged one depleted ZPM. I heard they are swapping out the one that is currently powering the City and he will set that up next to recharge.”
“Yes, it’s going to take place in a couple of days.” Weir leaned forward and tilted her head. “I know you can read the report, but I think you are here to hear it out.”
“Okay. Ronon and Lieutenants Johnson and Taylor were in hiding around the Genii settlement, as you asked them to be. Ronon tried to keep as close to you as possible, and he said that everything appeared to be going fine, till Sora showed up.”
“Yeah, didn’t account for her having visited the mining operations on M5V-801 as a kid. She saw through the undercover persona. Then, it wasn’t too much of a leap to figure out that I came from the City.”
“Ronon said you were stunned by one of their weapons, then just disappeared. He looked, but couldn’t find you. That was when he and the Marines got ahold of us and told us what was happening. He stayed on the planet to try to find you.”
“They somehow got ahold of a beaming device. The Genii had dismantled and covered up most of the outside entrances to their underground facility. Especially the one’s John and Rodney knew about. There is only one physical entry point now, and it was several clicks from the settlement. That was the one John and the others were taken through. I think, I’m not sure, but I believe they may have found one of the downed jumpers that hadn’t been sent back to Atlantis yet. How they found one, I’m not sure.”
“You think they somehow backward engineered something?” Weir looked troubled at that information.
“It’s possible. We would need to ask them. These people aren’t stupid, Elizabeth. Most of what I could get before Sora figured me out, they have been engineering a lot of new technology since you first encountered them. Either they had a logical leap in their research, or they scavenged and brought back tech to learn what they could from it and started engineering from there.” They talked for a while longer, Weir asking him questions and Tony answering as best he could about his ordeal. He knew that she would want a verbal report, even though he had already filed his written with John.
“Okay, this will be something we will bring up with them in our next negotiation meeting.” Weir sat back again in her chair, “I know you wrote all of this out in the reports, but I’m glad you came to me to talk about this, and I know it couldn’t have been easy.”
“So, this had been fun. I’m now going to go find something not so depressing to do.” Tony stood and grabbed the cane and left Weir’s office. He needed some grounding, but John was on a mission. He decided to go bug Spencer, maybe talking his friend into lunch with Jack. Tony was glad that his son was doing well and that everyone on the City had gotten to know the boy. The type of education he would get as he grew would be nothing like back on Earth. It made Tony smile when he wandered into Spencer’s lab, and he was sitting cross-legged on the floor and explaining in child terms what he was doing. Using broken, empty ZPMs to show Jack how they were re-charging them to help the City achieve full power. Jack was like a sponge and quickly picked up concepts that should be way beyond him.
“Hey you two, I was wondering if you would like to have lunch together?” Spencer looked up, and the smile settled something inside Tony. This was his friend, and no matter what happened, no matter how badly things might get, Spencer would always be there for him and Jack.
“Sure. Then after we can talk about Energy transference.” Spencer stood, and Jack ran over to Tony, wrapping his arms around Tony’s good leg.
“Hey little monkey, why don’t we go see what the mess has conjured up for us today.” Tony smiled and laid a hand on Jack’s back. He looked up and raised a brow at the smile Spencer was giving him.
“I just haven’t seen you smile like that in the last few weeks.”
“Yeah, I just…”
“I get it.”
Tony and Spencer shared a look, and Tony knew that Spencer really did get it.
“Some things never truly go away, Tony. It’s how you deal with it afterward. If you and Aaron had not been there for me, it would have broken me. Aaron risked so much to help me, and I will always be grateful for that.”
“Spence, you know there wasn’t anything else we could do.”
“And I’m paying you back by being there for you.” Spencer looped his arm through Tony’s as they walked towards the Mess Hall.
“Nothing to payback, Genius.”
“Well, I think it’s what John would want, and I think Aaron as well. You are important to me Tony, don’t you ever forget that.”
Tony knew, and the feelings of friendship and love choked him up enough that he couldn’t really say anything. The three of them walked in silence, and Tony knew that he was going to be okay.
Sitting on his favorite pier, Tony thought back to the last couple of months as he sipped the wine that John had poured them. Something they had found on P5X-860. The expedition was almost giddy when they found the plethora of wineries on the planet. The fruits used were not what anyone was used to, but the wines they made were delicious. Mursam fruit they called it, but no one really cared because they now had open trade with several of the owners of the wineries.
“You know, if we ever find a planet where they make whiskey, I think these guys would go batshit crazy.”
John laughed, a sound Tony had not heard for a while, and it made him feel whole and happy.
“Growing up around a lot of wine, I think if my Father tasted this, he would demand O’Neill to let him come out here just to secure the right to import to Earth.” John chuckled as he sipped from his own glass.
“Somehow I believe that you are not kidding.”
“Nope. Dad loves wine. And Spencer, I think he found something that has made even McKay a little crazy. He and Dad used to go on all these tours. I wasn’t as interested, but David and Spencer love wine like Dad does.”
“Yeah, he would always bring a new find over to share with Aaron and me.” Tony plucked a piece of cheese off the plate they were sharing and savored the sharp taste that paired well with the wine. The variety of dried meats was exotic but delicious. There were also fruits that Tony didn’t remember the name of.
As he was putting a piece of fruit in his mouth, he felt John staring at him.
John moved the plate, then took the glass out of Tony’s hand and set it aside.
“We’ve had a rocky time of it lately.”
Tony sighed and looked up at the constellations that he was giving his own names to in his head.
“We have.” He turned to see that John was still staring at him, but then a hand was on his collar, fingers curled around it.
“This is the symbol of not only our dynamic but the trust that we have in each other. We almost lost that trust, but I think we have moved past that.”
Tony’s breath hitched as he raised his hand and laid it over John’s.
“I want to give you something else, Tony.” John moved to where he was kneeling then he was pulling something out of one of his many pockets.
“John?” Tony’s heart was beating hard as he watched his Dom.
“I love you, Tony. These last couple of months had shown me that we, together, can pull through anything. I want you not only as my Sub and lover, but I want you to marry me.” John held out the platinum ring set with a smaller version of the stone in his collar.
“John.” Words got locked in Tony’s throat as he moved to sit face to face with John. A smile bloomed on his face as he held out his hand. “Yes. Yes, John Sheppard, I will marry you.”
The kiss Tony got was worth every single thing he had been through to get here to this very moment.
It was good to be back on Earth for a while. The recharging of the ZPMs was going well, and Spencer thought that they could have all three slots in the main power room with full ZPMs in just a couple of weeks. Once that happened, they could recharge more at a time as needed. Tony asked John if he could have a few days, and while they had some things to plan, John knew Tony needed some grounding. His ordeal with the Genii, then getting back to the city and recovering had him a lot shaken. He didn’t regret one thing though because it gave them the naquadah they needed and an open dialogue with a former enemy.
Tony had flown into DC, and there was a car waiting for him, he smiled and knew that this was John’s doing. They hadn’t talked about money, it wasn’t like they even used it in the Pegasus system, but he really did need to have that talk. He hoped John realized that his own bank account was quite hefty and that if they ever came back home to settle, Tony was more than flush to help with whatever it was they would need.
These thoughts plagued him as he drove through the streets of DC towards the one destination he had in mind. He was wearing a Marine uniform, having been given a field commission after securing the rights to trade with what was left of the Genii. They had not wanted to admit to their dwindling numbers, but Tony had gotten it out of them. The things they needed most, and how he had agreed to work with them to help rehabilitate those of them that were hurt worse than they wanted to admit. When Tony finally realized that he truly had the upper hand, that was when it all turned. It was tense, but Tony had gotten through it.
Stopping at the house that he had often found himself at when he worked at NCIS, Tony knew how much he had changed. His masks not longer helped him, not in Pegasus. Not in a perpetual war zone. He was proud of the man he had become, and he knew Aaron would have been too. The pain of grief no longer burned in his gut like it had eighteen months ago. Tony thought of John as he twisted the ring on his finger. He had been torn between wanting to do this on his own and wanting John with him. His fiance had come to know him better than he knew himself in some ways, and the man knew Tony needed to do this alone. Finally, Tony stepped out of the car and just walked inside the house. He had seen Gibbs’ car in the driveway and knew the man was home. There was another vehicle in front of Gibbs’ house, but Tony didn’t think anything of it.
When he got to the basement stairs, he leaned in the doorway a moment and just watched the man that had been mentor, friend, big brother and more that Tony couldn’t even define.
“Gonna come down or stay up there all day?” Gibbs half growled but kept working on what looked like a dresser. There were no boats this time. Tony chuckled to himself as he moved down the stairs.
“Just needed a moment, Boss.”
“Not yer boss anymore Tony.” The tone of Gibbs’ voice almost had Tony faltering, but he quickly recovered. Taking a deep breath, he walked all the way down and grabbed his usual stool and slipped onto it. Gibbs was watching him the whole time.
“That’s a new look.”
“Field commission, but O’Neill already made it official.”
“Major, I’m not surprised. Should I even ask what you did to deserve it? Because if I know you at all, it was something reckless, close to stupid and shouldn’t work, but does because you have the damnedest fucking luck.” Gibbs crooked smile made Tony smile at him right back.
“Oh, I just went undercover, got myself thrown in their jail, tortured, almost taken as the leader’s pet, but still brokered a trade after I killed the son-of-a-bitch.”
Gibbs didn’t even try to stem the laugh that as he shook his head.
“So, you still being you.”
“Yeah.” The silence between them stretched as Gibbs worked a little on what he was building. It wasn’t an uncomfortable silence, not like where they had ended up when Tony decided to leave.
“So, Boss, I want to ask you something.”
Gibbs set his tool down, leaned back against the bench at his back and crossed his arms.
“What is it, DiNozzo?”
Tony’s mouth twitched as he watched Gibbs, the sudden tension in his body trying not to upset Tony, but he knew where it had come from. They hadn’t exactly parted on the best of terms.
“I’m getting married. I would like you to be my best man.”
Gibbs’ eyebrows went so high they were trying to meet his hairline.
Tony took a deep breath and scuffed his shoe against the floor.
“When Aaron died…I thought nothing in this world would ever ease the pain of losing him. Oh, I tried to act like everything was okay when I knew it wasn’t. I was a mess, Gibbs. He wasn’t just my lover, or my Dom or my partner…he was my Master.” Gibbs sucked in a breath and looked shocked. “I wasn’t ashamed, but becoming a Consort, it changes you. It’s deeply personal, and not only that but I’m Aaron Hotchner’s named heir to Dragon House. His adopted father named him his heir after Haley died. Aaron trained and mastered at Byron, though, because he isn’t a sadist. He was still a boon to both houses. I hadn’t known what it meant at first, but he was a treasure to both houses, and it gave me protections that not even you could have broken. We had a profound bond and when that bond was broken, it shattered me..
“I had to leave, Gibbs. I had to go for myself and for Jack. We were both drowning. Then John Sheppard came around and offered me this opportunity, and I took it. I won’t pretend it was easy because it wasn’t. Where we are, it’s a perpetual war zone. But, we are doing good, and somehow I’ve been able to heal, to let go and let myself have something again. I’m not going to lie, there isn’t a day that goes by that a part of me doesn’t ache for Aaron, but I know I can’t live anymore with the crushing grief his death caused. So, when I had the chance for something new, I took it. And it was the best decision of my life.”
Gibbs stood and walked over to Tony and pulled the man into his arms. Tony let himself be wrapped up in the rare show of affection from Gibbs. They broke apart, and Gibbs grabbed the back of Tony’s neck and looked him in the eye.
“Is he good to you, Tony? Because you deserve no less.”
“He’s very good to me, Gibbs. Though I think I cause him no small amount of frustration.” Tony smirked as Gibbs just shook his head and let him go.
“That I don’t doubt.” Gibbs and Tony shared a look, a look that both of them had lost far too long ago. It was one of friendship and a trust that had been lost between them. “I’m sorry Tony.”
“Well, this is a first. Gibbs, second ‘b’ for bastard, apologizing.” Tony stood and walked to the dresser taking shape. It gave him a moment to gather his thoughts. “It’s okay Boss, we both made mistakes.”
“I noticed you’re wearing a new collar.”
“It’s John’s. I knew the only way I was going to truly move on was the day I took off Aaron’s. I just didn’t know how hard that actually was going to be. I thought I could do it on my own, and it nearly destroyed me, but John reminded me that I was no longer alone.”
Silence fell once again between them. It was broken a moment later when there was a noise of someone coming into the house and calling out for Gibbs.
“You aren’t the only one that has changed.” Gibbs crooked smile and slight blush had Tony wondering. He didn’t have to wait long for someone to be walking down the steps and into the basement.
“Oh. I didn’t know you had company.” The newcomer looked between the two men.
“It’s alright Colby. I want you to meet Major Anthony DiNozzo, Jr. Tony, this is Colby Granger. He came from the LA FBI office, he took over Spencer’s place in the BAU.”
“Boss?” Tony’s face split into a wide grin as he watched Colby come down the stairs the rest of the way towards them, then twine his fingers with Gibbs’.
“It’s only been six months, but you helped me move on Tony. I watched you fall apart, and I knew, I knew what you were going through. Then I saw you slowly pick up those pieces and become stronger than I ever was. When Dragon House sponsored a meet and greet, I met Colby.”
“It took him awhile to get on board, but I wasn’t going to let him pull any of his bullshit with me. If he wanted this, he was going to have to prove it.”
“Well, looks like you’ve met your match, Boss.”
Tony stayed for a little while longer to get to know Colby and see the dynamic between his former boss and his new Sub. Tony could see that this was a good thing for Gibbs, and he was genuinely happy for him. When he felt it was time to leave, he stood to say his goodbye’s and Gibbs said he would walk Tony out. They were silent till they got to Tony’s car.
“He’s good for you, Gibbs. Don’t screw this up.”
“I know, Tony. And I realize we would have never worked. We would have just hurt each other too much. And, Tony?”
“I would be proud to be your best man.” Tony smiled as he hugged Gibbs one last time, then got in his car to meet John and his family. He hoped that this time it would not be a repeat of their dinner from when Tony first met them.
Dinner had gone better than Tony had thought it would. Patrick Sheppard had been warm and charming, as was the rest of the Sheppard clan. They accepted him, and Tony felt his family expanding. He was happy because it made John happy that his father put aside his prejudice against Anthony DiNozzo Sr.. McKay was a shock for the head of the Sheppard clan, but even Patrick concluded that Spencer never did anything normal. Spencer just smiled and wrapped an arm around Rodney’s waist when the Sub went on a rant about the perceptions of normality. Patrick just laughed, and shook McKay’s hand welcoming him to the family. It was a good day. Especially when it came to Jack. The boy charmed everyone there, but especially Trevor, Patrick’s Sub. The two became thick as thieves and Tony couldn’t be happier. He was glad that Jack now had more family.
Tony was curled on a couch in the den of the Sheppard mansion when Alec came in looking for him.
“Hey, there’s some woman outside that looks like she stepped out of an ‘80’s Joy Division music video and says she knows you.”
Tony sighed as he stood. John and Patrick had taken Jack out for the day. Patrick wanted to get to know his Grandson. It made Tony’s heart flip a little that the head of the Sheppard clan was taking to his son so well.
“That would be one Abigail Sciuto. It’s okay, Alec. I’ll talk to her.”
“Okay, but if you find yourself in trouble, just shout.”
Tony chuckled and just shook his head. He waited for Abby to be shown into the room he was in, he was not going to go to her.
“Abby, how did you know I was back?”
“I went to see Gibbs.” Abby stood there in her three-inch platform Doc Martin boots, plaid schoolgirl skirt, and black bandom t-shirt. Tony didn’t even want to ask what band because he knew Abby would try to make him listen to them. She was biting her blood red lips and playing with the tips of one of her ponytails.
“Well, I didn’t tell him he couldn’t say anything. I’m going to assume you somehow hacked something and found out where I was staying.” Tony did not look happy. He had not told anyone where he was.
“I just wanted to see you, Tony.”
“And you couldn’t let me do it on my own time, in my own way. It had to be your way, didn’t it, Abby?”
“Are you still mad at me Tony?”
Tony took a deep breath as he settled back down on the couch, Abby took one of the chairs. She set her ever present parasol next to her.
“No, Abby. I’m not mad at you. The truth is, I let you go a long time ago. Being out where I have been, having regrets and doubts can get you killed. No, I talked it all through with someone, and I’m not angry anymore. What I am is sad. I’m sad that the woman I had thought was like a sister to me tried to manipulate me. Tried to make me feel guilty for leaving a toxic environment when I was grieving. Oh, you were great when it first happened, but the subtle and not so subtle manipulations to try to get me to stay and to be with Gibbs were unconscionable, Abby. You hurt me at a time when I was already devastated.
“But, and I don’t say this lightly, I forgive you. I have to put you behind me, so I forgive you, Abby. But, I can’t forget what you tried to do to me.”
Abby looked like she was going to cry but all Tony felt was pity. This was a grown woman who had not learned to grow up. He thought about her on Atlantis and knew she wouldn’t last more than a week out there.
“Tony, you can’t mean that.”
“I do, Abbs. I really do. Now, I think you need to go to a real House and get some training. I know you did a couple of sessions at one of the public Houses, but either you didn’t take the lessons to heart, or they are as bad as I’ve been told. I think you would do well at Amaryllis or Hibiscus. You like to believe yourself capable of the harder groups, but they would eat you alive Abbs. You need a better education on Subs and Doms, and I think a healing environment like they would give you would be best. But, that is on you to make that decision.”
Abby frowned as she twisted her hands together.
“Gibbs has been different since you left. I…I tried to be there for him…”
“Abby, please tell me you didn’t take your father issues as far as I think?”
Abby scrunched up her face and looked down at her hands twisting in her lap. Tony felt a momentary pang of regret and sadness for the young woman. He moved in front of her leaning back on his heels.
“Abby, you do realize that Gibbs, he’s a sadist. It’s why he went to Dragon after he left the Marines and before he went to NIS. Frank recognized what was inside him and made him go before he went to work at the agency. You would never be able to be what he needs. He sees you as a daughter, Abbs. For you to have even suggested that kind of relationship to him…I can’t believe you would do that. I’m going to make my recommendation to Gibbs, and to Vance that you need some time away. I really suggest you take it. You’ve had a very unhealthy view of those around you for too long, and because of that, we are where we are right now.”
“But what if I lose my job.”
Tony sighed as he reached up and cupped Abby’s cheek.
“You are more than your job, and I think you’ve gotten lost. You act like you have it all together when deep down, you really don’t because if you did, you would have someone there for you who loves you and would know what you need. But, NCIS can’t replace you if you take a sabbatical for training.”
“I’ll think it about it, Tony.”
Tony nodded, but he would follow through and write to Vance an official recommendation that Abigail Sciuto takes time off to get proper House training. Her attitude and oft-erratic behavior could someday become a hindrance.
“Okay, Abby. Now, I have plans to finish up with. I’ll see you out.” Tony stood and waited till Abby stood as well. He laid a hand gently in the middle of her back and escorted her towards the door. Tony assumed when he saw her again that he would feel many things about Abby, one of them being that sister-brother relationship Tony had believed they had shared. But, now, Tony knew it for what it was. Tony and Abby trying to create a family on a pile of falsehoods they both had built up in their minds. No, Tony had learned what real family was. He had learned what it really meant for someone to have your back, and him to have theirs. Atlantis and Pegasus did not leave much room for errors.
“Tony,” Abby turned, and the two stared at each other for a moment. Tony smiled sadly at her but pulled her in for a quick hug.
“Have a good life Abbs.” Tony let her go and noticed her hesitation. When he didn’t say anything else, Abby just sighed and walked out back to her car that was parked in the large circular drive.
“That is one weird chick,” Alec said as he watched the woman leave.
Tony smiled a genuine smile at his soon-to-be brother-in-law.
“You have absolutely no idea.” Tony turned around as Jack, Patrick, and John came in from the garage. Tony’s heart settled as John came up to him and wrapped his arms around his waist and kissed him stupid.
“Hi,” Tony said as he pressed his forehead to John’s.
“You look happy.”
“It was a long road to get here, but I am. I am very happy, and I cannot wait to call you husband.”
“Tone,” John sighed as he closed his eyes holding his Sub in his arms soaking up the love and affection he knew Tony had for him.
“Well, I don’t really need to see the sappy love fest, so I’m going to leave for a while. Maybe find a pretty little Sub for the night.”
“Alec William Sheppard.” Patrick admonished, but the glint in his eye said he knew his son was most probably putting them on.
“What? They are sappy. Stupidly so. I’m outta here.”
Tony pulled away from John and laughed at Alec’s antics. Yes, this was family, real family, but he couldn’t wait to get back home, which was Atlantis.