- Rough Draft
- Work in Progress
- Character Bashing
- Death - Major Character
- Discussion - Murder
- Hate Crimes
- No Beta
- Violence - Canon-Level
- Challenge Response
- Ménage or More
Chapter Four: The Truth Comes Out
When the trio and Spencer finally got to Nick and Greg’s home, the Sentinel and Guide headed to their bedroom to change. Tony wanted a few moments to himself, and after quickly changing into clothes from his go bag headed into the backyard. Spencer wanted to spend some time truly alone before Blair and Jim arrived and headed straight to the guest room locking himself in.
Taking a deep breath, Tony closed his eyes and turned his face up to the sky breathing in the night air. When he opened his eyes, he studied the expanse above him. Nick and Greg lived far enough from the strip that the stars could be seen in the night sky as they twinkled above him. He was beginning to panic as the totality of what happened tonight began to really sink in. He’d come online as some kind of mythological SentinelGuide combination. He had not one but two new mates, and the fate of Gibbs’ Guide and Swing both lay in his hands.
This was on top of the pressure he already had leading a new team who adored their previous Shift Leader. His Shift Second in Command was, unless he was misinterpreting what he read from her, completely unsuitable for the job, and most likely would never go through the training she needed to do the job. In a matter of moments, he’d gone from an anomaly who was basically alone in the world to some super freak who had multiple people tied to him forever.
Just as he was about to completely freak out, he felt arms slip around his waist and someone’s warm breath on his ear. “Breathe, Doc,” Nick commanded before pressing a soft kiss to the sensitive skin behind his ear.
Tony tried to comply taking a shuddering breath as he felt Nick’s chin rest on his shoulder. “What are you freaking out about?” He heard the older man ask as someone took his hand.
“Everything?” He half answered half questioned as he turned his gaze to the side to see Greg looking at him concerned. Not knowing how to deal with that, he turned his eyes back up to the sky.
“I’m used to being alone, even when I have a million people around me and I’m playing the part of the life of the party. Gibbs was the closest thing I had to family, but even he didn’t concern himself too much with how I was feeling or if I was OK. Despite the fact that I was his Senior Field Agent for over five years and I had known him for longer, he never treated me as if I was any different from any other agent on his team. I’m used to being some indeterminable oddity that everyone just glances at with pity when they find out my S&G status.”
Tony huffs an obviously unhappy laugh before continuing. “Now I have this… I have… I’m this super freak who can be a Guide or a Sentinel at will. I have two people connected to me forever that will always know every single thing about me. Not only do I have this new team I’m responsible for, but I have Gibbs’ Guide who it seems was thrown into a nuthouse because they didn’t know what else to do with him and his Swing SentinelGuide who has been injured and then thrown somewhere without anyone around who cares about him.
“And goddammit, Gibbs is still fucking dead!”
Tony just wanted to hide somewhere. Before the thought could even fully form though, the Guide next to him stepped in front of him curling his arms around his neck trapping him between the two men. “This Gibbs was important to you?” Greg asked softly, and Tony’s voice shook more than he wanted as he answered.
“Some days it feels like he’s the first person who ever gave a shit that I was alive. My father hates me and spent most of my first 12 years either beating me, telling me how worthless I was or ignoring me. He shipped me off to boarding school when the new step-mommy said I was too difficult to handle during the summer break. My mom died when I was 8. I know I have frat brothers, so it isn’t really true that no one else ever cared. It’s just… Gibbs was… he was just…”
“The person no one else could be for you?” Nick asked softly still resting his chin on Tony’s shoulder, and the Swing nodded. “M’sorry, man. If it’s too difficult to have Spencer here…”
“No,” Tony interrupted also shaking his head from side to side to make his thought clear. “I have to look out for them. I can’t… I don’t know how to explain it. I just do. Spencer needs to be with us, and we need to find Aaron. They’re…”
“Pack,” Greg finished letting Tony know that he understood. “I don’t know how you feel about the spiritual side of all of this. My Nana Olaf taught me about lot of it though as a kid, so I think I’m predisposed to believe more than some. She had visions, and I think I got my ability to see and speak to the dead from her. You… well the three of us now really, are at the top of the food chain.
“To be honest, technically, we’re above Jim and Blair because we’re a trio, and you’re a Swing. Nana and Papa Olaf believed in Swings. Even if I mostly thought they were something like unicorns, now that I know they’re real I have no doubts about you. The three of us will for sure feel the urge to form a Pack, and I am thinking that you’re the reason I connected to Doctor Reid so quick. He’s definitely your Pack.”
“I don’t know if I can do this,” Tony admitted quietly and felt Nick squeeze him slightly as he pressed another kiss to his neck.
“You can because you aren’t alone in this,” the more veteran CSI reminded him. “There’s three of us feelin’ our way along this trail we’re walkin’. There isn’t anything that we gotta rush into. We’ll figure everything out as we go along. As long as the three of us stay on the same page then fuck everyone else.”
Tony turned his head slightly and rested his cheek against Nick’s as he turned his eyes back up toward the stars. He wasn’t sure how long he stood there with Nick behind him and Greg in front before the youngest of the three of them pulled away.
“Someone’s here. It’s probably Jim and Blair.” Nick suggested and then nodded after a few moments. “Yeah, feels like them. We better go inside. I think that it’s time that we hear what they have to say.”
When they walked back into the house they found Spencer standing in the hallway between the kitchen and the living room staring at the front door with a look of half trepidation and half something that Tony couldn’t define. He could relate to the mixed emotion though. The Pinnacle Primes were looked upon with almost reverence by the Sentinel and Guide Pack in North America, and it was hard not to echo that feeling. Yet, Tony couldn’t get over the feeling that the pair had fundamentally let down both himself and Spencer so severely that it cost one of them a Sentinel and the other an older brother substitute that Tony had desperately needed.
Tony stopped to stand near the genius as Nick proceeded to the front door, while Greg headed into the kitchen to get some waters and beers. The second the Pinnacle couple stepped into the house, he heard a low growl fill the room. It wasn’t until the eyes of those at the door turned to him, and then Spencer took his hand that he realized it was him growling. He saw Jim Ellison frown and move to take a step forward, and was immediately stopped by Blair. Brando chose that moment to appear and the big bear moved to stand near Spencer protectively. A black wolf immediately appeared near Jim growling low, and Tony assumed it was the man’s Spirit Guide Jimi.
He overheard the Pinnacle Prime Guide saying something to his Sentinel about it not being the time for posturing, and that Tony being stronger than him even in his newly activated state. He didn’t really understand what the Guide was saying and got distracted when Greg stepped in front of him blocking the couple from his sight. “Hey, take a breath. It’s ok. They won’t be able to hurt Spencer. Not here. You and Nicky won’t let it happen. He’s safe I promise.”
Tony stared into the Guide’s eyes trying to let the words calm him. It wasn’t until Nick came over though and put a hand on his shoulder that he felt himself begin to relax. Mentally he let the moment move to the back of his mind where it could be worked on to determine what it meant that he needed them both to relax, and shifted his attention back to the immediate problem of the two Pinnacle Primes.
When he was as calm as he was going to get, Tony headed around Nick pulling Spencer along behind him, and headed for the couch. After placing Spencer in a recliner and sitting on the arm with Brando settled on the other side of the genius, Tony motioned to the couch and the other chairs for the two visitors, intruders his mind sneered unhelpfully, to sit. Blair chose to sit in the chair furthest away from their position, with Jim leaning against the back of it and Jimi settled next to them watching Brando carefully. Nick and Greg then sat on the couch between the two chairs with Nick closest to the Pinnacle pair. Dwight appeared and immediately headed to lean against Brando with Caan and Vallo curled up on a free cushion on the couch. The only Spirit Animal not present was Blair’s, and Tony wondered why that was.
“I’m sorry that we’ve intruded on your nesting time,” Blair started sounding sincere enough, but Tony was withholding judgment until the end of the conversation.
“I promise that we mean no harm to Spencer. If it wasn’t urgent that we speak to you, we would have waited a few weeks so you could settle. The way things have been going though we didn’t feel safe in delaying our arrival.”
“This have something to do with Aaron Hotchner being shot, and the other Swing SentinelGuides that have been murdered?” Tony asked sounding nowhere near calm.
“What makes you think there’s other Swing SentinelGuides? And, you speak as if you think Hotchner is alive. What makes you think he survived the attack? Last I checked he was reported to be deceased.” Jim asked straightening and crossing his arms over his chest.
“Because we’re not stupid?” Tony asked in response narrowing his eyes at the Pinnacle Prime Sentinel. “Seriously? That’s the route that you’re going to go? Play the arrogant dick and hope that I’ll just what? Go away? You do know his Guide is sitting right next to me, right? I assumed, maybe incorrectly it seems, that being the fucking Pinnacle Prime Sentinel of North America that you understand how the connection between a Sentinel and his Guide works. And, you had met Gibbs right? You’re aware that he was very proud of his bastard side? You couldn’t out asshole him if you had to, Bubba.”
“Listen, Pretty Boy,” Jim started, but was quickly cut off by his Guide as Tony heard a cough from the couch. Looking, he saw Nick trying to hide a smirk, while Greg wasn’t even trying.
“Jim,” Blair interrupted frowning up at his Sentinel. “I told you that isn’t going to work here. So, can it!”
“But, Chief,” Jim started only to be cut off again. “We can’t take the risk of…”
“No!” Blair shot back. “I’m tired of losing these people! You promised me we’d do it differently this time. Now, Jethro trusted this man. So, we need to stop doing our ostrich impression sticking our heads in the sand and acting like there’s not a huge fucking problem!”
Tony’s lips twitched at the Guide’s moxie amused him despite himself. So far, Ellison seemed to be a huge asshole, but he had at least a sliver of hope that Sandburg could be trusted. So, when the Guide looked at him, he tried to tame his hostility.
“Why don’t you tell us what you know or suspect, and we’ll go from there,” Blair requested, and Tony nodded, if somewhat stiffly. Looking to Nick and Greg for their opinion, he waited until they both gave their nods of agreement before proceeding.
“Thanks to Spencer we know that while Gibbs really did die, Aaron is alive and in a medically induced Swing Stasis. We know that you assholes tried to tell Spencer that he was dead, but had to come clean when he pointed out that he can feel him through their bond. We don’t know where he is, and I can tell you right now that’s changing before either of you are allowed to leave this house. We suspect that there’s been more deaths because neither Aaron Hotchner nor I are unicorns. There’s no way that two Swing SentinelGuides showed up so fucking close together without there being others.
“As far as what business it is of mine,” Tony snarled angrily. “I was Gibbs’ Power of Attorney, and his Legal Next of Kin even after his bonding. I was the sole heir to his estate, and I probably knew him better than anyone besides Tobias Fornell. And even if all that doesn’t mean anything, one more for those hard of hearing at the back of the room… His Guide is right here next to me!”
Blair nodded. “Jim shouldn’t have tried to bullshit you about Aaron now or Spencer after Aaron was shot. It was a shitty thing we tried to do, and Spencer, you have my deepest apologies. I should have put a stop to this nonsense way before Aaron came online. I just…”
Blair trailed off and sniffed before taking a deep breath. The Pinnacle Guide’s Ocelot Spots suddenly appeared on his lap, and the man’s arms automatically wrapped around the creature’s body. Tony ignored the glare that the tall Sentinel was sending his way, and refused to feel bad about upsetting the Guide. It seemed as if they hadn’t felt bad about trying to hurt Spencer. So, fuck them.
“I don’t understand how this keeps happening,” Blair uttered. “I take our position seriously. Being the Prime Guide over North America and second to the Worldwide Primes isn’t just a job for me. It’s something I feel like I was born to do. I know that I wasn’t as close to Jethro as you two, but he was still my friend. You’re right. You and Aaron are not the only Swings. You’re also right that there have been others who have been murdered. There have been some in other countries, mostly England where the Worldwide Pinnacle Primes are located. However, the majority of where the deaths have occurred have been here in the US.”
Greg stood and took the Guide a bottle of water, which the older man accepted gratefully and immediately opened to get a drink before continuing. “It’s troubling, to say the least, and at this point, we’re open to suggestions on how to make it stop. We are fairly positive that the Americans for Mundane Rights is behind the whole thing at least here in the States, but we don’t know how they keep getting the information. There’s no indication that our servers have been hacked, and currently, none of the information on Swings is even listed digitally. When Aaron’s mating with Spencer and Gibbs hit 6 months, we had hoped that it was over.”
“Then Gibbs was killed a week later,” Spencer said, speaking for the first time since the duo had arrived.
Blair nodded regretfully before speaking again. “Honestly, we’re pretty much out of ideas.”
Tony cocked his head to one side as an idea tickled his brain. Filing it away to bring up when the Primes left, he decided to move on. “Maybe it’s time that someone else looks into it then,” he murmured.
“And you think you can do better?” Jim shot back, but Tony just snorted. He was over the man’s attitude.
“I think that while you and Blair were cops, it was in a small town in Washington. I don’t think that you had a ton of experience chasing serial killers. I think that your pride is getting in the way because you’re used to being in charge and having all the answers. Well, tough fucking shit. I’m not interested in molly coddling you.
“Frankly, I’m more interested in staying alive, and seeing to it that Aaron Hotchner stays alive. I also know for a fact that the Las Vegas Crime Lab is second only to the lab at the FBI. So, I have every confidence in my team here to help get this figured out. Not to mention that Spencer was on the top Behavioral Analysis Unit team at the FBI.”
Tony glanced at Nick feeling a bit of guilt, and when his Sentinel cocked an eyebrow at him, he knew the older man felt it through their strengthening bond. “Nick, when you brought up something earlier, I didn’t mention that I already knew about it, and I’m sorry. I’m used to it being highly confidential, and was a little surprised that you knew.”
Nick just smiled and shrugged. When he didn’t sense any upset through the bond, he gave a soft sigh of relief. “The Elite S&G Protection Unit you mentioned. I’ve worked with them a few times at NCIS, but beyond that my cousin Edward is part of one of their top Teams.”
“S’all new, Doc. No sweat. It’ll take a bit of time for us to get used to each other, and being comfortable with sharing secrets. ‘Specially for you when it comes to things that are confidential. I think I can safely speak for Greg and say that we understand there are things from your past with that agency you worked for that will always have to be kept secret.”
Tony nodded and felt himself relax a bit again. “I want Edward’s team brought here to Vegas to assist with protecting the four of us. I’m not keeping my status a secret. That’s obviously been tried more times than is sane and has been proven over and over to be ineffective. I’m not sure telling the world will work either, but at least it’s new. It’s also going to make someone think twice about killing me when the whole world knows I exist. I would recommend that whatever Swing SentinelGuides there are that are alive be notified and it be suggested that they also come out of hiding once I have made my announcement. No one should have to live their lives as if they should be ashamed of who or what they are.
“As I said earlier, I also want to know where Aaron Hotchner is, and I want him brought here to Vegas. I want Edward informed, and I want another team assigned specifically to Hotchner until he can protect himself. I want all the information that you people have on the deaths of every Swing SentinelGuide as far back as you have records for.”
“I have a question,” Spencer said softly, and Tony turned his attention to the Guide sitting next to him. “How have you all managed to keep the Swing SentinelGuides a secret all these years? I mean, there are records of Sentinels and Guides going back as far as there is recorded history.”
“Mostly by humanity being horrible to each other,” Jim offered quietly. His previous attitude seemingly put away. “There have over the centuries been mass killings of Swings that got recorded as other things. Mostly because those responsible or those in charge at the time didn’t want to admit to what they allowed to happen. Events like the Inquisition and the Salem Witch Trials were targeting Swings specifically. Then because Swings are typically rarer, events like The Civil War, The French and the American Revolutions, World Wars I & II and The Black Death took a huge toll on their numbers.
“There have been numerous times throughout history that Swings were killed in large numbers, but it went unreported due to people’s fears or prejudices. At some point, they just stopped coming forward, and their existence was only known to people like Blair and me in positions of authority. It’s one of the reasons why Gibbs didn’t want Aaron to come forward. He knew how unkindly history had treated people like Aaron and was trying to make sure there wasn’t a repeat.”
Tony sighed and cursed Gibbs stubborn need for privacy inside of his head. “Except, this is a different time than any of those periods. The fact that conspiracy nut jobs have always whispered about Swings being real meant they were never totally a secret. Beyond all of that in this day and age when smartphones with cameras are becoming more popular, and social media sites like Twitter are becoming more widely used there’s something to be said for there being a safety by being in the public eye.”
“It’s harder to kill someone that the whole world is watching,” Greg agreed softly, and Jim tilted his head to one side giving the appearance of reluctant agreement.
Tony watched the older Sentinel look at his Guide before Blair just nodded and took over. “Whatever you want, Tony. Like I said before, what we’re doing isn’t working, and I want these deaths to stop.”
“Shit is changing,” Tony said firmly eyeing Blair specifically. “I don’t know everything that went on before now, but I can assure you that no one is treating me like a second-class citizen, or that I should be ashamed of who I am. They’re also never going to separate one mate from another for some bullshit protection excuse ever again. I don’t give a fuck who I have to go through, but I will not allow it to happen anymore.”
Blair just nodded, and after studying Spencer a few long moments, he spoke once more. “Why don’t we take Spencer with us? We’ll take him to Aaron. That will give the three of you time together.”
“No,” Tony said immediately and saw Ellison stiffen quickly.
“I’m not trying to be insulting,” Tony said softly. “I literally can’t stand the thought of Spencer being out of my area of protection until I know he’s got someone either myself or Edward to protect him.”
“He already sees Spencer as Pack,” Greg threw out trying to help calm the agitation swirling around the room.
“Aah,” Blair offered nodding. “In that case, I’ll contact Edward tonight, and have him send a team to escort him here. He’s at Honolulu Hospital listed as a John Doe at the moment.”
Tony narrowed his eyes and wanted to growl, but just barely held it in. “Call whomever you need and tell them that the 5-0 Task Force will be taking over his protection until they get there.”
“Just how are you gonna manage that?” Jim asked once more crossing his arms across his chest.
“Danny Williams and I have been friends since childhood. We met at summer camp. All I have to do is call him and they’ll take over. I trust them a hell of a lot more than whomever you have watching him now. Steve McGarrett was one hell of a fucking SEAL, and there’s no way anyone’s getting past him to Aaron. So, make the call. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we need our privacy. I need time with my new Sentinel and Guide, and Spencer just needs time to himself without crazy people around.”
Blair nodded before standing. Tony was glad that the Pinnacle Prime Guide understood his need to have his… Pack, and didn’t that sound funny in his head, to himself for a while. Quickly, the duo was gone, and Tony was heading to the backyard to give Danny a call. The sooner he got that done, the sooner he could lock himself in Nick and Greg’s bedroom with the two men and get down to some cuddling time. Because dammit he needed a fucking hug. He was pretty sure that he’d earned it.
Chapter Five: Getting to know each other
Early the next morning found Tony in the back yard alone lying in a lounge chair he’d found watching the stars faded as the sun rose. “Scoot over,” he heard and moved before looking up to see who was joining him.
He didn’t even bother to try and hide his smile when Greg lay down on his side next to him putting his head on Tony’s shoulder. “What’re you doin’ out here instead of in bed?”
“I dunno,” Tony admitted softly as he ran his hand through Greg’s spiky locks that were free of product at the moment. “The house feels wrong or… something.”
“We c’n move to your place,” Greg offered, and Tony puzzled it for a few minutes before shrugging.
“Don’t think that would help. Then it would be mine and not Nicks. I don’t…” Tony stopped struggling with the dual battling parts of his brain. The old part that was comfortable and familiar was screaming at him not to reveal any weakness. The new part was prodding him to open up and let these new people see his pain. It was all very confusing and unsettling.
“It feels all too much, too soon, too… everything. I feel like two different people, and I don’t know if I know which way is up anymore.”
“Until you come out here and look at the stars,” Greg guessed, and Tony reluctantly nodded.
“It’s like I have two different people in my head arguing about who I’m supposed to be. One is saying the old me isn’t good enough, and the other is saying the new me can’t be trusted. One me is saying cling to you and Nick and never let you go. The other me is saying that it’s just a trick and eventually you’ll find a way to leave me like everyone else.”
“’We havin’ a pow wow on the lawn?” Nick grumbled dragging the other lounge chair over. Tony watched him fiddle with the arms on both chairs until the two that would be separating the two of them were folded down. He then shoved his right up tight to Tony’s and crawled on.
“It should be expected that there’s gonna be some growing pains, and some difficult adjustments. That whole seamless transition is only real in them romance novels. In the real world, it’s hard blending two people let alone three at the same time that you’re trying to get used to being a whole different person. Give yourself a break.” The Texan scolded as he twined his fingers with Tony’s as the three of them looked up at the sky.
“I know we’re just startin’ this thing, but I think we’re gonna need to get a new place. One big enough for the three of us plus Spencer and Hotchner and whomever they find for their next third eventually. You’re gonna want ‘em close, and honestly, I don’t like the thought of Spencer bein’ away from us even though I jus’ met him. There’s definitely somethin’ building here. A house that big here is gonna cost a pretty penny, but I think it’s necessary.”
Tony fidgeted until Greg lifted his head to look at him with an arched eyebrow until he confessed. “The money part may not be as much of a problem as you’d think.”
“Huh,” was the only reply that Greg gave before the younger man lay down in his previous position.
“I’ve always been close to the Paddington side of my family tree. That’s my mother’s family. When she died, they made sure to stick close to me. They even stepped in a few times when I was a kid, and then when Senior officially kicked me out when I was twelve for callin’ the cops on him in Maui my Uncle Clive took over as my guardian. He let me stay here during the school year in a boarding school but flew me to England during breaks. When he died, he left me half of his estate. My portion was several hundred million pounds.”
Greg lifted his head grinning and wiggling his eyebrows. “So, you’re sayin’ I now have a Sugar Daddy? Sweet! Can we get a Ferrari?”
Tony snorted as he grinned at the Guide’s reaction. Nick was silent though, and when he turned his head to look at him, the older man had a thoughtful expression on his face. “Nick?”
Nick turned his face toward him, and Tony relaxed at the twinkle in his eyes. “I’m tryin’ to work out how to ask for season tickets to go see the Cowboys play without soundin’ greedy. I’m good with your money. Mom and Pops aren’t exactly hurting for cash even with all of us kids. They make good money in what they do, and the ranch pulls in a hefty profit also. Once we each reached of age we were given a portion of the ranch profits. Even though I don’t talk to them much anymore I still bring in that money. I’ve been just throwing it into an account all these years. So, I have a nice bit of cash saved up.”
Greg nodded. “My parents both made a decent living, but we weren’t rich by any means. Papa Olaf was just a simple man back home before he immigrated here. Frankly, with everything else going on, the last thing I give a shit about is that you two have more money than I do. I made a good salary as a lab tech, so I have a pretty decent nest egg that I can use to contribute a little to the pot. All I want is for all of us to be comfortable and to know that Spencer isn’t alone somewhere.”
Tony sighed as he felt some of the weight he’d been carrying slowly dissipate. Pulling Nick’s arm to rest across Greg’s back, Tony closed his eyes and let sleep finally pull him under.
When he woke up, Nick was gone and Greg was fiddling with his phone. He’d moved to lay in his back, but his head was laying on Tony’s shoulder. He’d either gotten up at some point, or Nick had brought things out. Because, not only did he have his phone, but also his sunglasses were on and he had a bottle of water he was sipping up.
Judging by the sun’s location in the sky, Tony guessed it was about10-ish. Experimenting with his new senses, he turned up his hearing slightly to see if he could find Nick inside the house. He heard someone rapidly turning the pages of a book. From the location of the sound and what he knew of Spencer, he guessed that the younger man was reading in his room. He didn’t know what it meant that he could hear through supposed Sentinel proofing and wondered how good the typical isolation room would actually be for him. He then wondered how good they would be for Nick and made a mental note to ask him when he saw him next.
Not hearing him in the house, Tony gradually turned up his hearing to try and locate the man. When Greg rolled and took his hand, he guessed that the younger Guide had figured out what he was doing. “Easy at first,” he heard, which confirmed his guess. Eventually, he located his Sentinel by the sound of his heartbeat, which he’d memorized the night before after they made love. From the rhythmic pounding that sounded like Nick’s footsteps, he guessed that the older man was running. He wasn’t sure yet how to tell how far away he was and added it on his list of things to figure out.
“I gotta nother mile if it’s ok,” he heard and recognized Nick’s voice.
“That’s fine,” Tony said easily and felt a flare of awe that he was having a conversation with the other man who was well beyond the borders of the property. “I was just experimenting. Out of curiosity. How far are you away from the house?”
“’Bout 5 miles. I try to hit 6 miles three days a week when work lets me.”
Tony brightened at that, because it had been a while since he’d had a running partner. “Awesome! You mind if I join you in the future? That’s about what I do. I try to go to the gym ‘bout three times a week too and take Sunday’s off. It’s been awhile since I’ve had a training partner.”
“Sounds like a deal, Hoss,” Nick said, and Tony could feel the excitement from him through the bond. “I’ll see you when I get home, babe. Maybe we can sit down and talk about what we want for a house after we have lunch.”
“Ok,” Tony agreed happily, “I’ll let Greg know.”
“That was kinda weird,” Greg said after Tony relayed the conversation, “and at the same time cool.”
“How far away was he when you asked?”
“Almost five miles!” Tony gushed excited as they got up to go inside. He could feel from the warmth of his face that he’d gotten a slight burn and needed to go inside. When they got inside the house, Greg headed to the kitchen to see what they had for groceries to make breakfast. Tony wanted to get changed out of his pajama bottoms and check on Spencer before joining Greg in breakfast preparations.
Deciding to take a quick shower, Tony sped through cleaning up wanting to rejoin his new mate as quickly as possible. Rummaging around in the medicine cabinet, he found some sunburn aloe cream that he put on his face before heading into the master bedroom and snitching a pair of sweats and a t-shirt of Nick’s to put on. He hadn’t failed to notice that Greg was wearing one of his own OSU t-shirts that he knew had been in the dirty clothes bag in his luggage. He didn’t begrudge the younger man the item though. The t-shirt of Nick’s that he was wearing might possibly be the one the Sentinel had been wearing around the house the night before.
Stepping out of the bedroom after emptying his dirty clothes bag into what appeared to be the other couple’s laundry basket, he headed down the hall. Reaching the guest room where Spencer was holed up, Tony paused and noted that he could hear inside the room and made a mental note to ask how Sentinel proof the room should be. He could hear what sounded like pages of a book turning. From the speed of the sound he guessed the younger man was reading, which gave him another mental note to make sure they worked out a source of pleasure reading for him. Dr. Reid’s abilities were whispered throughout the DC Intelligence community. Never having seen it in action himself, he was guessing that the younger man was reading for pleasure. As the sound of the pages turning was faster than what he himself could read, but not horribly so. Given that Tony read somewhat faster than normal due to his own elevated IQ though it was still an impressive rate.
He then decided to try his Guide abilities and fumbled through seeing if he could get a surface feel of the younger Guide and combine it with say his Sentinel abilities to get a physical read of him at the same time. It was a little awkward at first and he knew that Spencer sensed what he was doing when he felt the man pause and almost mentally stiffen for a second. Tony tried to relay who he was and his intentions. Because he didn’t know what the hell he was doing though, he was mostly working on instinct, and wasn’t sure he’d been successful until he felt the genius relax again and send what felt like feelings of gratitude and affection his way. It was a headrush to say the least. Not only had he managed to use both of his abilities together, but he’d managed to fumble through on his own.
It wasn’t something that he wanted to do all the time, and he certainly needed to talk to Nick and Greg about the two of them training him at least until they got the threat to himself and Hotchner contained. Maybe at that point, he’d see about getting some people in to help him train. Fumbling through sending a combination of affection and protectiveness back to Spencer, Tony finally patted the doorframe to let him know that he was leaving before heading to the kitchen. Once there, he couldn’t help but pause in the doorway to take in the sight before him and explore his growing feelings for one Guide Greg Sanders.
The thought that he would be spending the rest of his life attached to two people whom he hadn’t chosen of his own free will and was somehow cosmically manipulated into caring for was to say the least a little troubling for him. Most of his life had been spent being let down by people that he actually cared for and believed in. People that he’d invested time in and learned about before giving in and letting them inside the closely guarded gates surrounding his psyche. To date, it had mostly been an exercise in futility as mostly the relationships had crashed and burned in the end. The only people that had ever stuck around were the Paddingtons, and sometimes he couldn’t figure out why.
It wasn’t a secret that Senior blamed Tony for his mother’s death, even though he been just a child when she died, and not even there. He’d always expected the Paddington’s to blame him as well, but for some reason they never had. His
Uncle Clive especially had made a point to make sure that the scared little boy he’d been knew that at least his English family put no blame onto his small shoulders for his mother’s unfortunate death. Given that his father never let him forget how he blamed his only son for her too early death, it had meant a great deal to the child that he’d been.
So, there he was well over 30 years after his mother’s death and receiving absolution from her family for the act, and he found himself strapped for the rest of his life mated with two people that he didn’t know. It should have scared him to death, and he supposed in a way it did. Mostly in the not having control over something that big way though than anything else. Leaning against the doorframe, he stopped to watch Greg who was dancing in his sock covered feet with his back to Tony to some random 80’s era song that he vaguely remembered being called Tainted Love. His lips twitched as the younger man shook his butt as he shimmied across the tile floor. Happy for the distraction, Tony allowed himself to really ponder the man before him.
Anthony DiNozzo, Jr had never made it a secret that he liked the beautiful things in life. He had the money to afford them and didn’t see any reason to settle for less than what he wanted. His apartment had always looked like something that came from the pages of some architectural or design magazine. His clothes had always been designer even before he switched to suits when he left Baltimore. His automobiles had always been either beautifully restored classics or high-priced luxury vehicles. Just because he chose not to let money run his life, didn’t mean he was opposed to using it to make himself more comfortable.
Like the things in his life, the partners he chose to take to bed, regardless of if it was only one time or if it was for repeated performances, had always been equally as beautiful or sexy. Nick Stokes very much fit that bill. There wasn’t physically anything about the man that didn’t trip one of Tony’s triggers. From the sexy drawl to the crinkled grin of his to the toned body of a former college athlete, Nick Stokes was the very picture of sexy. Greg Sanders on the other hand was… cute.
He wasn’t unattractive. It wasn’t like Tony was settling for some troll. He didn’t though have Nick’s level of sexy or even Spencer’s prettiness. He was cute. Not that there was anything wrong with cute, but prior to Greg Sanders cute had never been something Tony would give a second glance unless he’d known them long enough to be caught by their personality. Usually at that point though he would have backed off, not because they were merely cute, but because his fear of getting too emotionally involved and then let down would kick in. So, while there wasn’t anything wrong with cute, and Tony was perfectly happy to have someone cute on his arm, it just had never been something he’d… done before. However, there was something about Greg that grabbed his attention. Cuteness be damned.
He wasn’t sure what to call it. If they were living in the world of superheroes and mutants he’d call it charm. He wasn’t sure what it would be called in the real world, and maybe charm was still the right word. He wasn’t quite sure, and after a few moments of pondering decided that it didn’t really make a difference. It was that thing people would call “It” because they didn’t have a better word for it. Greg was the kind of guy that walked into a room and just drew attention without people knowing why. Some might chalk it up to his smile. Some might chalk it up to his free to be you and me attitude. Some chalked it up to his Guide aura, but the former NCIS Agent had seen it in enough Sentinels and Mundanes to know that was a bunch of hogwash. Whatever it was though, Greg had it in spades.
It made Tony want to know everything about the man as his eyes remained glued to him as he danced and shimmied around the room. When the younger man finally turned and saw that he was being watched, he just laughed, and Tony couldn’t help but laugh with him. Crossing the room, he was pleased to hear the playlist turn to ol’ blue eyes, and he couldn’t help but let loose one of his happy genuine smiles. “May I have this dance, Guide Sanders?” He asked holding out his hand and received an equally happy smile in return.
“It would be my pleasure, Swing DiNozzo,” Greg agreed before Tony led him around the room as he sang Fly to Me to his partner. When they were done, Tony pulled Greg toward him for a kiss that was interrupted with a clap and whistle from the doorway.
Pulling back, he blushed slightly seeing Nick standing there looking sweaty and smiling himself. “Well, sounds like you’re holdin’ out on us, Doc. Those’re some singin’ chops that you have on you. Can you play anythin’ too, or do you jus’ sing?”
Tony felt Greg settle happily into his side as he answered shyly. He didn’t normally sing or play for others. His father had been scornful of his talents, and mocked his abilities calling him a sissy boy. The only ones who could usually draw him out were his Paddington relatives, and then usually only within the safety of Paddington Castle.
“I play guitar and piano both, and sometimes I write my own music. I have a baby grand piano that was my mother’s and her grandmother’s before her. It’s one of the few good things I have of mom’s. I definitely will want a room for my piano when we find a new place. I umm…. I hope you don’t mind I bothered some clothes.”
“They look good on you,” Nick said. His voice growing slightly husky as he came into the kitchen to get a bottle of Gatorade from the fridge. “I can see college ball’s gonna get interesting around here though. I didn’t make the connection before… You’re the DiNozzo that played football and basketball from Ohio State back in the day right? The one that was supposed to go pro before he got hurt?”
“Guilty,” Tony said with a grin and looked at the college ring on Nick’s hand. “And you were a running back for Texas A&M right? Everyone was hoping we’d play each other my sophomore year. You guys had that killer QB that year.”
“Yeah, then we got robbed,” Nick groused good naturedly as he finished his drink and threw the empty bottle in the recycling bin. “We got anything for breakfast?”
“Just barely,” Greg said as he moved back to the counter. “I found the stuff to throw together a breakfast casserole, but we really need to go to the store. I was thinking that we could make a list and I’d go. Maybe I’ll see if Spencer wants to come along and get anything. He left a note that he’d like to go somewhere to buy some books.”
“He loves to read,” Tony said casually as he thought about Spencer’s needs. “It was one of the things that came up about him when I asked around about him and Hotchner after Gibbs’ death. That and he likes to write letters. You might take him somewhere that he can get some good stationary or something, too. I keep meaning to ask him if there’s anyone back in DC he wants to contact. I know he’s the Godfather to one of his former co-worker’s sons. I would guess at the very least he’d like to write Henry.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Nick said as he headed back out of the room. “Tony and I can hang here and get to know each other. We haven’t had a chance to chat yet. I’m gonna go take a shower. I’ll stop by Spencer’s room and see if he wants a plate or if he’s gonna come join us.”
Tony watched the man leave before turning back to Greg, who was digging through a drawer. When he pulled out a pad of paper and pencil, Tony wandered over to help him with the list. “If you get stuff to make pasta noodles, I’ll be happy to cook tonight.”
“We have some lasagna noodles in the pantry,” Greg said, but when he stopped suddenly, Tony guessed it was from the evil eye he was giving him.
“I am Italian,” Tony said with a playful huff. “We do not use dried pasta. That shit will be banned from here on out. Fresh pasta is easy to make and tastes better to boot.”
Greg’s lips twitched, and Tony could tell the younger man was trying not to laugh at him. “Are you a pasta snob?”
“Yes,” Tony said and looked pointedly at the expensive bag of coffee beans on the counter next to the grinder. “Those who buy Molokai Coffee that comes in at around $51 a pound should not be throwing words like pasta snob around.”
Greg just laughed as he held up his hands before turning back to his list. “Ok! Fair point. No snobs of any kind here. Just discriminating connoisseurs for our chosen addictions. Now come over here and tell me what you need. I have a few specialty shops I can go to if I don’t find it at the super market I go to. I hope it isn’t too soon for Spencer to go out in public.” And with that Greg was off rambling happily as Tony learned that he was not the only one in the house who knew how to fill silence.
A couple hours later found Greg heading off to fill the cupboards and get the things Spencer needed in Nick’s SUV. Spencer decided that he wasn’t ready to leave the house yet but found a book store that would let him put in an online order for books and stationary. Everything else he needed was easy to put on Greg’s shopping list. The genius had tried to apologize, but they’d all understood and told him that there was no need. Nick and Tony could still have their time together as Spencer would be in his room the whole time anyway.
So, Tony found himself settled on the couch with Nick watching a baseball game. Given that it was his least favorite major sport, he was finding his attention wandering from where the Rangers, Nick’s favorite team, were playing the A’s to his other mate. Of his two new mates, the Texan seemed like he was the one Tony would be able to relate to the easiest, and have more, initially at least, in common with.
Aside from both of them playing college football and being in fraternities, they’d also spent time as cops before moving onto something else. It was nice to know there was someone around who would understand the cop side of his personality. When Nick turned the TV off and turned toward him, Tony lifted an eyebrow. “I thought you wanted to watch the game?”
“I can watch the Rangers anytime,” Nick replied easily with a shrug. “It isn’t like there’s a lack of baseball games. They play a ton of them and the season lasts like forever. Besides, you don’t seem awfully into it, and the point was for you and I to spend some time together. You seem like you have somethin’ you wanna ask. I figure this is the time.”
Tony rested the side of his head on the couch back as he studied Nick a moment before replying. “I don’t want to upset you.”
Nick seemed unconcerned about that and just gave another shrug. “If it’s gonna happen it’s gonna happen. Now’s as good a time as any with us bein’ alone and all. Maybe it makes me sound like a macho prick, but I’d rather get upset when it’s just you and I than when Spencer and Greg are here, too.”
Tony turned the statement over and eventually nodded understanding what Nick meant. Sometimes it was hard to get over instincts as strong as a Sentinel’s which would push Nick to do anything to avoid seeming weak in front of two Pure Guides. “I see you came online later in life. Kinda like me. I was wondering if you’d tell me about it.”
Nick initially just sighed but turned a little more to imitate Tony’s position so that they were both comfortable as they looked at each other. “I never thought I would come online. I mean, the center said that I’d been too damaged to ever trust a Guide enough to do it. When I was a kid I had a babysitter, who was a pretty good strength Guide who…. Who molested me. She used her Guide abilities to make me easier to control and shit. I was too scared for a long while to tell Mamma and Cisco ‘cause I was afraid they’d be disappointed in me.
“So, by the time they found out the center said that she’d done quite a lot of damage, and they thought I’d gone permanently Dormant. Then a few years ago I got kidnapped. It was I guess the end of a whole list of crappy things that happened starting off with some chick holding a gun on me, then I got stalked and tossed out a window. When I got kidnapped I kinda lost it. Like really lost it. I was really claustrophobic for a long while. Closed in spaces still aren’t my favorite thing. When they rescued me… Well, I kinda think Grissom thought maybe I was his Sentinel. He was the first one I focused on when they got me out, and when they realized I was online I think everyone assumed that I was his mate. But, thing is I’ve never looked at Gris like that.”
Nick paused and picked up his bottle of water from the coffee table taking a long drink before putting it back and continuing. “It took them a few days to figure out who my Guide was ‘cause I didn’t get to see Greg right away. I mean, at that point we were mostly friends, but not real super close. I was a lot closer to Warrick and even Sarah in some ways than I was Greg. I like him ok, but I mostly thought he was weird and didn’t understand him. I guess looking back I can admit that I was attracted to him, but I thought our personality differences were too big for it to go anywhere.
“Then one day he came in after his shift to see me, and it was like someone had turned on the lights again. I’d mostly been feeling like I was still stuck in that fuckin’ box with the ants crawling all over me and just wishing I could make it stop. I hadn’t been able to really get my senses under control no matter who they brought in. The doctors were getting desperate enough they were thinkin’ of calling Blair, but then suddenly Greg was there, and everything was just good again.”
Nick paused and shook his head as if he could fling the bad memories away. Reaching out, Tony took his hand and squeezed it in support. “I thought that’d be the end of it, and everything would be peaches an’ cream from there. Only then Mamma freaked out that Greg wasn’t the right kinda people, whatever that means. Cisco was upset that my Guide was a man, even if he was trying to hide it. When Mamma suggested that they could find a much better match for me, I snapped. Told ‘em to leave and not come back until they could accept my Guide. Found out later both of my older brothers and one of my sisters had let them influence their mate selection. Couple of my sisters went so far as to let Mamma and Cisco set up an arranged pairing for them like we’re livin’ in the 1800’s or some shit. I didn’t even know they still did crap like that. I mean, I love my family, but I’ve never let anyone tell me who to be or how to live my life. So, they went back to Texas and I haven’t seen either of them since.
“The younger of my older brothers comes to see me, and one a my sisters tries to keep in contact when she can and not get caught. The rest of them though are pretty pissed that I defied Mamma and Cisco. It’s just not done in our house.
Greg doesn’t like talkin’ about it so I’ll tell you he don’t talk to his parents much either, but for different reasons. His mamma practically put him in a bubble when he was a kid. Smothered the shit out of him and said he was too delicate because he was a Guide. He tries sometimes cause they’re still his mamma an’ daddy. He was always closer to his Nanna and Papa Olaf. When they passed, he was devastated. It’s a shame that you won’t get to meet them. They were a hoot, and obviously loved him. How ‘bout you? Are you close to your family?”
Shaking his head, Tony told Nick about Senior and his mom dying and all the things that happened while she’d been alive. “Fortunately, when she passed both of her brothers came to the funeral and told Senior that they’d be keeping a close eye on him and expected to see me on occasion. I know they stepped in a few times when Senior got too out of hand, and then when he disowned me after he forgot me in Maui, Uncle Clive took over Guardianship of me. Senior showed up a couple of times at NCIS like nothing had happened. He’s still the same drunken con-man that he was when I was a kid though. If we’re lucky he’ll stay the hell away. Edward’s presence will certainly help that. Senior is scared shitless of Edward and mom’s oldest brother George.”
“I’m glad you had someone,” Nick said softly before yawning. “I think a nap sounds awesome. How ‘bout you?” Quickly, Tony agreed and followed his Sentinel to the bedroom. When Greg came home and found them together, he let them be. After taking pictures to show the lab later, of course.