- Death - Major Character
- Discussion - Murder
- Explicit Sex
- Violence - Canon-Level
- Challenge Response
- Science Fiction
When Tony and Spencer landed in Denver, an SUV was waiting for them. Tony picked Jack up and carried him while Spencer grabbed their luggage. The trip was long, and they were both tired, Jack especially. The driver was a Marine Lieutenant, and that made Tony wonder even more. He was under the impression that Cheyenne Mountain was under the auspice of the Air Force.
There were so many questions he had, but he would wait till he could sit down with John and Dr. Weir. Spencer was intrigued by the whole thing even though he didn’t know what the thing was, and couldn’t be told till he also signed the confidentiality papers so he could be read in on the Atlantis Mission.
“You still can’t tell me what this is all about, Tony?”
“No. Not till we get there and you sign this big ass mountain of paper.”
“Papa, io home fame,” Jack pouted a bit, and Tony knew he was just tired. He hoped they could get food because he was hungry as well. It had been several hours since any of them had eaten.
“We’ll see about getting something to eat when we get there, okay kiddo?”
Jack nodded his head as he laid against Tony. The trip to the mountain took a while, and Tony had closed his eyes just for a moment to try to relax. Tony was glad he wasn’t driving, he didn’t think he had it in him at the moment. When he was nudged awake, Tony saw that they had finally made it to their destination.
“Damn. I was asleep.”
Spencer snorted and started to ramble on about the Mountain, it’s known military uses and the different conspiracy theories surrounding it. Tony let him talk as they parked, were checked in and escorted to the central area. He put Jack down and took his hand, telling him to stay close.
They were shown to a conference room where they were told to wait. Tony pulled some small snacks out of the backpack he had with him and gave Jack something till they could get a more substantial meal.
Tony wasn’t paying attention to the door because he was trying to settle the boy down. The Marine that had shown them to the conference room had come back with a plate of cheese, crackers, and fruit for Jack. Tony smiled at him and thanked him. The Marine just smiled back, then left. As he was helping Jack with his snack, the door to the conference room opened.
“John?!” Tony heard Spencer as his friend jumped out of his chair. Tony looked up to see the two men hugging. Then the General walking into the room.
“Someone mind telling me what’s going on?”
“General, this is my little brother Spencer.”
“What?” Tony felt like he was a few steps behind what was happening. “Um, Spencer, what’s he talking about?”
“Half-brother. Same father.” Spencer blushed as John had him sitting down next to him. “We sort of had a big family fight, then John and Alec went into the military, I joined the FBI, and I sort of lost touch.”
“Dad’s here and so is David. They are staying in town. When Tony asked if you could come, I knew I needed to see you. God, I’ve missed you.”
“Spencer, who is your father?” Tony had a sinking feeling he knew. He just wasn’t sure if he wanted his suspicions confirmed.
“Patrick Sheppard. William Reid is my Stepfather.”
“Oh, we are so talking about this later when not in front of little ears.”
“First we need you to look over this paperwork and sign where indicated.” Tony watched with amusement when Spencer read through and signed everything in just a few minutes.
“Um, son you need to read everything.”
“He did,” Tony and John said at the same time. Spencer blushed really red as he pushed the paperwork back to the General.
“Look, General, do we have to have this meeting tonight? My son is hungry and tired. I know I need to eat and to settle.”
“Of course. We have a pretty decent mess, or I can release Colonel Sheppard, and he can take you into town. We have a room set-up for you. You indicated on your release form that Dr. Reid is acting as your interim Dom?”
“Yes. Before we came, Dr. Reid added his house token on my collar.”
“We’ll have your bags taken to the room and tomorrow we’ll talk. Get settled tonight and take care of your son.” The General left, leaving John with Tony and Spencer.
“Something going on between you two?” John watched as Tony stood to stretch out his back. The look John was giving him was unmistakable, but he wasn’t anywhere near ready for what that look was promising.
“I trust Spencer. He’s the only thing that kept me together after Aaron was killed.”
“Sheppard, you ready to go to dinner or what?” Another man came into the room. Tony saw Spencer’s eyes widen.
“Dr. McKay. What are you doing here?”
“I should be asking you the same thing, Dr. Reid. Last I heard you were wasting that mind of yours away with the FBI. You should be doing something rather amazing, not something so mundane.”
“Rodney!” John admonished.
“What? Just because I know my own worth doesn’t mean I don’t recognize it in another person. When I met you, Spencer I did not think you were going to bury your intellect in law enforcement. I assumed you were going to actually make something of yourself.”
“I think making it to Supervisory Special Agent of the FBI’s elite BAU is pretty significant. Not many people get the chance to be in the unit. I’ve done very well. Besides, I’ve published many papers inside academia as well as through the FBI. I’m doing very well for myself Dr. McKay. Especially the patents I have with Sheppard Industries.”
“What is he talking about?”
“Come on McKay, let’s go to dinner and you can berate the lowly serfs of your imagined kingdom.” Tony burst out laughing, not being to hold back.
“And who are you?”
“Well, technically, Dr. Anthony DiNozzo, Jr.”
“What are you a Doctor of?” McKay frowned as John gently pushed him out of the room.
“Sports Medicine, Criminal Justice, and Crime Scene Analysis.”
“So not a total idiot.”
Tony chuckled and knew that he was going to get on rather well with Dr. McKay. He appreciated the man’s attitude and refreshing honesty, even if it was rather acerbic.
“I certainly hope not.”
The four men and little boy made their way back to the garage where John signed out a vehicle and took them to a pub not far from the base. They sat in the restaurant part so that Jack could sit with them.
“I take it you can’t talk about what this is all about here, can you?”
“Nope. But Dad and David have been read in because they have projects through S.I. I know you’re curious kid, but you have to wait a little longer.”
“Alright. But, you will tell me everything?”
“Better yet, you get to read all of the mission reports.”
A waitress came up and took their orders, dropping off waters for them and a basket of bread before leaving.
“So, do you two have a contract?” John eyed Tony’s collar, then his eyes traveled down. The interest in his eyes made Tony shiver just a little, though he wasn’t sure if he would ever be ready for what that look promised.
“No, nothing so formal, but I don’t trust many people. I do trust Spencer, and Jack loves him, so it was an easy thing to let him in. Why, you interested Sheppard?” Tony smiled as he picked a piece of bread and buttered it for Jack to snack on while they waited for their dinner.
“I might be. But, wouldn’t want to intrude on anything if Spencer wanted more.”
“This is a little awkward, you know. My brother should not be flirting with Tony in front of me.” Spencer teased as he too snacked on the bread on the table.
“All you Sheppard’s can’t help it. This one doesn’t even try, and he just sounds like he’s flirting.”
“Oh, McKay, you’re just jealous. You wish you had half my charm.” John grinned as he teased his friend. The friendly banter set Tony more at ease with the two men. He had to admit that there was a part of him that was attracted to one Major John Sheppard, but he was still healing from Aaron’s loss. He didn’t know if he could put himself out there yet. He didn’t know if he could ever put himself out there again.
“Hey, you alright Tony?” Spencer leaned in and whispered in Tony’s ear while gripping his thigh in a reassuring hold. Tony took a deep breath and nodded.
Spencer pulled back but kept his hand where it was, not letting go till he knew Tony was going to be okay.
Talk turned to sports between Tony and John, while McKay and Spencer talked science. Dinner was served, and Tony cut up Jack’s chicken and made sure everything on the plate was easy for the boy to eat. The ease with which he was able to keep the conversation going was refreshing for Tony. So many times in the recent past even simple conversations with his supposed ‘friends’ had been laborious and stilted. The more time he was away from NCIS, the more he recognized the unhealthy environment it had become. Tony was looking forward to this new adventure, even with John’s interest in him, and the possible dangers that he was walking into. He needed to get away from everything and everyone that just kept hurting him. A fresh start, even if it meant Tony was galaxies away, would be good for both him and Jack. He just hoped he was making the right decisions for them both.
After dinner, Tony was getting tired, but Jack was practically dozing in his lap.
“I think it’s time I got this little guy into bed. It’s been a very long day.” Tony stood and picked Jack up in his arms, he followed after the others, then piled back in the car. By the time they were back in the Mountain and Tony was getting ready for bed, the day had hit him hard.
“Lie on your stomach,” Spencer said as he moved towards the bed, already in a pair of sweats and t-shirt.
“Okay, Doc, but I don’t think I have any energy for whatever filthy thing you have on your mind.” Tony teased as he laid down on his stomach. He had not even put on a t-shirt as of yet.
“Oh, I have a lot of very filthy things on my mind. One’s that would make my team blush and not believe they were my thoughts. But, I have something different in mind. Now, take a deep breath and relax.” Tony did as Spencer told him, then he felt strong hands on his back, gliding up to his shoulders. Thumbs pressed deep into his shoulder blades, slowly trying to work out the knots that had formed there. Tony started to relax by degrees as Spencer worked on his back, then moved down and started in on his hips, lower back and buttocks. Tony was practically melting into the mattress at the massage he was getting from the Dom.
“Turn over.” Spencer moved away from Tony after he had worked on the muscles in his legs. Tony turned, then Spencer worked on his front.
“Where in all God’s creation did you learn massage, and why have you been holding out on me?”
Spencer chuckled as Tony moaned in pleasure.
“I did two sessions at Hibiscus. In all honesty, I think it’s one of the most difficult houses to master. The Dom and Sub dynamic is more subtle than the other houses. It’s all about mental, physical, and emotional health. I like tying people up too much, and the occasional flogging.” Tony looked up and saw a soft smile on the Dom’s face.
“I’ve heard it’s also one of the more difficult houses to get accepted to.”
“They have rigorous testing. The House Masters want to know that their training isn’t going to be used against a Sub or a Dom, and it would be easy to do. The herbal training alone as well as the Ayurvedic arts can all be utilized in a harmful way. They weed out those that want to learn for the wrong reasons. It’s very calming, bordering on Shamanistic.”
“Well, whatever they have going, I’m glad you went.”
Spencer straddled Tony’s’ waist and started to work on his stomach and chest. By the time Spencer was done, Tony was near falling asleep. Grabbing the cuffs from their kit, Spencer slipped them on Tony’s wrists knowing it helped to keep him grounded at night. They had a safety release in case he needed to get out of them quickly. But, the nightmares were less and less the more he wore them.
Tony woke to Spencer wrapped around him, and he wondered how much longer they could be each other’s comfort. It had only been a few weeks, and Tony wasn’t rushing through his grief, but he wanted to start standing on his own. He wasn’t used to relying on people, Aaron had been one of the few Tony had let in that close. He stretched and turned on his back, Spencer adjusted, and Tony couldn’t help softly chuckling. No one would believe just how tactile the younger man was. Those close to him misinterpreted not wanting to handshake to mean that he didn’t like touch or to be touched.
“Morning,” Spencer mumbled as he lifted up on one arm and looked down at Tony.
“Morning. Spencer,” Tony started as he shifted up on the bed after Spencer took the cuffs off of him. “You know that if I do this, if I go with Sheppard, we would no longer be doing…this.”
“I know. I have no idea what’s going on yet and until I know everything we can’t really talk about this, can we?”
Tony flashed one of his brilliant smiles, “No, you’re right. Until you know what is going on, we can’t really talk about us. I’m going to go check on Jack, then get a shower in. O’Neill said breakfast was served till 0800. Then they want to see both of us around 0930.” Tony stood and did another stretch. The mark on his back was on full display, and Spencer had not seen full till then.
“You,” Spencer now understood just how deep the relationship between Aaron and Tony was.
“What?” Tony looked over his shoulder at Spencer who was staring at the mark on his back.
“You’re a Consort.”
“You didn’t know? All these weeks?”
“Well, I wasn’t paying close attention. I mean I saw the tattoo, but I didn’t realize until now what it actually was.”
Tony turned to look in the small closet where his clothes had been hung.
“Aaron was my Master and Dom in every single way. He had earned his master’s mark when we had met at the meet and greet. Byron offered him the chance for a Consort. I accepted.” Tony’s heart constricted hard in his chest as he reached for a pair of boxers. The mark was a permanent reminder of what he was to the person he had lost.
“I’m sorry, Tony. Why have you never said anything?”
“The time training, it’s very intense. You’re broken down in a way that exposes you fully, then built back, stronger, knowing yourself better than you ever had before. When it ended, and Aaron offered me his collar, I wanted nothing more. I loved him for everything he was Spencer.”
Spencer didn’t know what to say as he stood and wrapped Tony up in his arms. He understood a little more about the depth of Tony’s grief. Spencer had heard about how some Consorts had even gone into seclusion with the loss of their Dom. He was glad Tony had not done that, but it made him feel the loss of his friend and mentor even more.
“It’s okay, Spencer. I’ll be fine.”
“I know you will. Only someone as stubborn and strong as you could catch Aaron’s eye.” Spencer kissed his cheek then went to take his own shower.
Tony was shaken a little. He had never talked about how he and Aaron had actually met, and the six months they spent in seclusion through Tony’s Consort training. It was very personal to the both of them. Shaking himself out of the memories, he dressed, then went to the adjoining room to check on Jack.
The boy was sitting up in bed with one of his books in his hand.
“Hey buddy, what are you reading?”
Jack showed him, and Tony smiled softly. It was one of the Clifford books that JJ had given Jack recently.
“Do you want to finish reading it to me?” Tony crawled up on the bed and pulled his son onto his lap. Jack snuggled back and started to read about the adventures of Clifford, The Big Red Dog. He spoke in a quiet, clear voice and Tony let him try to sound out the words himself before he helped where he needed to. After Jack had finished, Tony turned the boy around so they could be face to face.
“That was so good Jack. Your Dad would be so proud of you, Figlio. Are you hungry?”
“Come on, let’s get you dressed and you can wait with Spencer while I get ready, okay? Today is going to be a long day with lots of boring meetings, but Dr. Jackson said he had something fun he could show you, would you like that?”
“Okay, Papa. Posso leggere con, Spencer?”
“Si, Figlio. Penso che gli piacarra.” Tony helped Jack into his jeans and a t-shirt. He wasn’t too sure what Daniel had in mind, but he knew the man would be careful with his son. If Daniel could keep him occupied for the time it took to have his meetings, he would be infinitely grateful to the man.
“Hanno pancakes, Papa?” Jack bounced into the other room with Tony following. He wondered if Jack was using the Italian to keep himself safe emotionally. Spencer and Tony could both speak it, but few others could. It had kept Jack separate from those around him. Tony would let it play out for now, but eventually, he knew Jack would have to deal with his emotions and start to trust people again.
“Non lo so, Figlio, dovremo vedere.” Tony ruffled Jack’s hair as the boy ran into the room where Spencer was waiting.
“He’s still using the Italian. Just, go with it, for now, Spencer. I’ll deal with it once we settle where we are going.”
“Alright, Tony.” Spencer held Jack on his lap and cuddled him close. Tony knew Jack was safe which let him go ahead and get ready for the day.
After showering and getting dressed, the three of them walked through the halls of the mountain and found the Mess with relative ease. He got Jack some eggs and was pleased to see they indeed had pancakes, Spencer served himself a plate, then Tony got his own food. As they looked around for a table, Tony spotted John and Rodney in a heated, but a friendly argument.
“I’m just saying, McKay, that you need more people to help you do your job.”
“I’ve got enough idiots around me making my job harder not easier, Sheppard.”
“So, you don’t want another genius scientist to come with us? That is if he can be talked into coming.” John smiled as he looked towards Spencer.
“Well, Spencer isn’t a total idiot so if he does decide to come, I will learn to live with it.” McKay swung his gaze over to Spencer and waved his fork at him. “Just don’t make me regret it.”
“I don’t even know what it is yet. And, I would probably need a few assurances and to make sure certain things are in order before making whatever crazy decision you guys want me to make.”
John kept a steady gaze on his brother knowing some of the things he was talking about.
“Hey, after you learn everything I know you are going to want to come, and before you protest, you can still send them. We have open communication now, and it won’t be difficult at all. With the Daedalus up and running and the Prometheus almost done, regular visits will happen as well.”
“Kid, I’m very sure.” John watched Tony, who was directly in front of him, with his son and smiled. “You’re good with him.”
“I wasn’t at first. When Aaron put him in my arms the first time, I thought I was going to have an aneurysm. He was all of one year old and so active. But, he was patient with me, so was Jack.” Tony rubbed a hand down Jack’s back then let the boy finish eating.
“I thought about kids once. Too much has happened the last year that I don’t know anymore.”
“I’m reading those mission reports you promised.” Spencer glared at his brother, and Tony almost lost it. The look was an excellent imitation of Aaron’s glare. He wondered if all the years in the BAU had made Spencer pick up on it.
“You still look like a kitten.” John teased.
“You really want to get into a prank war, John? Remember the last one? Dad threw the both of us out of Sheppard Industries.”
“Yeah, but it was so worth it.” John laughed, and something tight in Tony’s stomach had loosened. He was finding himself more and more attracted to the man, and it was seriously messing with his head.
“Well, until you ‘accidentally’ solved Dave’s problem with the intake valve on those drones he was developing. He was so mad at the both of us for weeks.”
“He should have been able to solve it himself. He was just an idiot.” John waved a piece of bacon at Spencer, who with quick reflexes, stole it from him. Tony just let the banter with the three of them wash over him. He was learning the dynamic between Spencer and John. The brother’s obvious affection for each other shone through, but there was still an underlying tension. Something about a family fight, Tony recalled.
“Alright, come on let’s get you read in, Kid, then you can just try to tell me no.” John threw an arm around Spencer after they put their plates away.
Tony helped Jack put his things where they belonged, then followed John to the conference room where Dr. Weir, Jack O’Neill and Daniel Jackson were waiting for them to arrive.
“Daniel, thank you for taking Jack. He loves books, and puzzles or complex games, he’s already two levels above of his peers. Aaron was going to get him tested, but we just never found the time.”
“Don’t worry, DiNozzo, I have some really cool things he’ll enjoy.”
“This may be an odd question, but do you speak Italian?” Tony asked as Jack stood wrapped around him.
“I do, actually. Why?”
“I think he’s keeping himself isolated by talking mostly Italian. I’ve been teaching him since he started talking. I’m not discouraging it yet, I believe he’s having problems feeling safe. Just, if he does…”
“Don’t worry, DiNozzo. I’ll take care of him.” Daniel smiled as he got down on one knee, so he was eye level with the boy. “Hey Jack, would you like to dig in some sand?”
The boy’s eyes got wide, and he vigorously shook his head yes. Daniel stood and said something to Jack in Italian, then took his hand. They started out of the room when O’Neill called after them.
“Daniel, no taking the kid through the Stargate. That’s an order.”
“Wasn’t planning on it Jack, but now that you mention it…”
“Daniel…” O’Neill yelled as Daniel laughed while taking the boy by the hand and leading him away from the conference room.
“He isn’t going to…” Tony frowned and looked where the two had departed.
“No…I sincerely doubt it.” Tony narrowed his eyes, but a hand on his thigh and a soft chuckle had him settling down.
“They’re messing with you DiNozzo. Daniel wouldn’t do that. General, I think first we need to get Spencer up to speed.”
“Alright, Atlantis is real, but not in the way that you think it might be.” Jack started and went on to explain the Stargates and how they had learned of the existence of the Ancients and the city that they had built then abandoned.
John took over and explained about the Wraith and how the expedition, and him specifically, had woken them up hundreds of years before they should have woken. Now, the Pegasus Galaxy was a mess. John also talked about some of their blunders over the year they had been there.
“We know now that if we had someone of your skills, Agent DiNozzo that some of these encounters might have turned out very differently. John impressed upon me your skills as a Profiler. Well, in the time since we initially talked I did some research and understand a lot more what it is that you and Dr. Reid do. I agree with John, if we had you or someone like you to start off with, things might be a little different today.”
“Look, it’s scary out there, and I know your first thought is going to be your son, but we’ve beefed up our defenses while we search for more ZPMs. I cannot guarantee that Jack will be 110% safe, but I can promise that we will keep him as safe as we do all the children that are currently living in the city.”
“Dr. Weir, you and John promised we could read the mission reports?” Tony asked as he leaned back in his chair.
John pulled out a tablet and handed it to Tony. It was loaded up with all of the Atlantis mission reports for Gate Team 1. He then pushed the paper reports over to Spencer. Two large filing boxes full.
Spencer was reading through the paper files, and Tony could feel his anger radiating from him. Tony couldn’t blame him. The things he was reading, though at a much slower pace, put a pit of fear in his stomach. He was only halfway through when Spencer shot out of his chair, files falling everywhere and went to John, the slap sounding very loud in the quiet room.
“What the fuck, Spencer?”
“Really? Really, John? So, if you had died in any of those situations, would we have ever known? Would you have even been brought home? Would we forever be in the dark about what the hell happened to you?” Spencer was standing rigid, anger in every line of his body. Tony was about to get up and go to him, but John shook his head no.
“McKay had instructions that if anything happened, he was to come personally to tell you, Dad, everyone what happened.”
“John, I just…this shit is worse than going after a serial killer. And that bug? It almost killed you.”
John reached out and pulled Spencer into his arms and held him for a moment.
“I can’t lose any more family.” Tony ached at seeing the younger man fall apart in his brother’s arms.
“You aren’t, Spencer.”
“Damn straight, because I’m coming with you. As long you promise I can get letters to Mom and tell her what’s going on.”
“We are already setting up for data bursts once a month. And, Dad already said he would look in on her more often. You know we will always take care of Diana.”
Spencer visibly relaxed as he pulled out of John’s arms.
“I’m in. Even though I have no idea what I’m doing, I’m in.”
“Good, we have a lot of work to do to get ready to go back. We are asking the IOA and Stargate Command for a lot of supplies as well as soldiers that can be trained for gate travel. There is just one last thing we need to know. Here, Tony, please hold this in both hands.” Dr. Weir took out one of the more innocuous medical devices that were easy to gauge whether someone had the ATA gene or not. Tony took the two-handed device and held it in his hands. After a couple of minutes, it glowed just slightly.
“Interesting. Not a strong gene, but it’s there. Now you, Dr. Reid.” Spencer held the device in his hands, and it glowed like a Christmas tree on steroids.
“I shouldn’t even be surprised. You seem to have as powerful of a gene as your brother. Must mean that it comes from your Father’s side.” McKay had a very greedy look on his face, but John just narrowed his eyes at the Chief Scientist.
“If anyone starts calling my brother a lightbulb, I’ll kick all of your asses.”
As plans were being made to get ready to travel to Atlantis on the Daedalus, the General and John thought it might be a good idea to show Tony and Spencer what everything was all about.
“Okay, kids this is what y’all have been waiting for.” O’Neill looked up at the control booth and waved a hand at Walter. Both Tony and Spencer were dressed in BDU’s and outfitted with P90’s, handguns, a riot bar and all the proper gear. Tony was somewhat used to this, so it wasn’t anything new to him. He had often gone on weekend ‘adventures’ with Gibbs when he had first started at NCIS. Thinking of Gibbs made Tony frown a little. A part of him hated the way that they had left things, but he knew he couldn’t stay. Tony just didn’t feel safe anymore around his old Boss.
When the Gate started to turn, and the symbols lit up Spencer was smiling like a loon. Tony just laughed, as did John next to him. Of course, John had protested giving Spencer any weapons, but O’Neill had to remind him that his brother was a trained federal agent. He was still nervous about the P90 though.
Then when the wormhole opened, Spencer stood there in complete awe.
“Wow, this is amazing” Spencer let slip as he shook his head, he reached down and threaded his fingers with Tony’s. His excitement was practically thrumming through him.
“Yeah, wait till you step through. It’s an even bigger rush.” Tony felt eyes on him as John looked him over. This little expedition was the full SG-1 team and included John, Rodney, Spencer, and Tony. More wanted to go, but O’Neill had to put a halt on who would come. They were just taking a short day trip and be back that afternoon. At least that was the plan.
As soon as they stepped through, both Tony and Spencer had their weapons raised, ready for anything.
“Whoa there campers, put your guns away. We have friends on this planet, and I’d like to keep it that way for once.”
“You often make friends your enemies, General?” Tony stood and slowly put his gun away. Spencer followed when John laid a hand on his arm.
“Oh, Jack has that winning personality. You know, winning hearts, making friends, and being his charming, effervescent self.” Daniel smirked towards his Dom as he held his P90 loosely in his hands.
“Well, at least he didn’t wake thousands of years old Space Vampires.”
“No, he just helped start a system wide Goa’uld war.”
“Hey, you assisted in that too, if I recall.” Jack pouted slightly, and Tony knew that mask well. Jack hid his intelligence behind the jokes and the smirks, but Tony knew a faker from miles away. He should know, he spent years perfecting his own masks.
“Spencer, when did you learn to handle a gun?” John frowned at his little brother who had put his gun away in its holster.
“John, I’m a trained Federal Agent like the General tried to tell you. What did you think I did?”
“You know, files and stuff.” John waved his hand at Spencer.
Tony kept quiet. He knew better than to get in between this conversation, but he was going to stay close in case this went bad. He had seen enough sibling behavior to know that preconceived notions could ruin even the best of relationships. Tony knew that Spencer’s relationships with his family were already strained. He hoped that John wouldn’t be an asshole when he figured out just how dangerous Spencer’s job was.
“John, we hunted down serial criminals, and our unit specialized in serial killers. There was nothing cushy about what I did.” Spencer went rigid as he frowned at his brother.
“I just thought you guys did that, you know, behind desks and stuff.”
“No. Do you think I can’t be out there in the field for some reason? Do I still look like that twelve-year-old that would get bullied in school?” Tony had rarely seen Spencer’s temper, but when he blew it was usually verbally vicious. He hoped that he wasn’t going to say something that he would regret.
“Spencer, I don’t think that’s what he meant. You’re his brother, he cares and just doesn’t want to see you hurt.” Tony tried to diffuse the situation before it escalated because he knew how these things could get worse very quickly.
“Right. My brother.” Spencer turned to Tony and the anger on his face wasn’t something Tony had seen since after his encounter with Hankel. “You know when Catherine died, I was locked out of being able to grieve with the family. Ignored that I grieved too. I know she may not have been my Mother, but it fucking hurt and I felt like I wasn’t allowed to grieve when she died.” When Spencer turned back to John the shock on his face didn’t stop Spencer. “You, Dave, Alec even Dad, you pushed me out and let me deal with it on my own. Why the hell do you think I left?” Spencer yelled as he glared at his brother, rooted to the spot he was standing in.
“Spencer, I don’t think now is the time…” John frowned and looked very uncomfortable. Even Rodney’s presence didn’t help.
“And when is a good time? When we get to Atlantis where you can hide? Or, back to the Mountain and you go on some mission, and we ignore this? Maybe I should run away to Afghanistan. Worked for you.”
No one saw it coming when John’s fist connected with Spencer’s face. However, Spencer didn’t go down like some thought he would. He stood back up, breath shallow, anger and pain shown in his eyes. No one knew what to do.
“Right, that’s your first instinct. Hit me. I won’t confess my sins, not here, not now and if I didn’t tell him why the hell would I confess it to you?” Tony’s eyes widened and knew immediately that this was going to get much, much worse before it got better. He wanted to try to diffuse what was happening before it got any worse.
“Spencer, you don’t need to go there. I know you’re hurt and you’re angry, but calm down. This isn’t going to solve anything.” Tony could almost see Spencer’s mind working, and for a moment, Tony thought he was going to calm down and walk away. Unfortunately, he didn’t quite understand the tenacity of the Sheppard boys.
“What are you talking about?” John’s frown deepened.
“Okay, this has gone too far.” Jack waved a hand between the group. “We came here for a pleasant afternoon, a stroll in the sunshine on another planet and you two are completely ruining the moment.”
Tony would have laughed, but the tension in the air was thick as the two brothers glared at each other with their apparently unresolved issues.
“Spencer, let it go.” Tony laid a hand Spencer’s arm hoping it snapped him out of the emotional hill he had just climbed. If this went on, Tony knew the fall was going to be hard and very nasty for both of them. He didn’t want either man to say something that would put further cracks in their relationship.
Spencer took the few steps it took to get right up to John.
“I’m not a scared ten-year-old boy anymore. I’ve talked down serial killers and madmen. I was kidnapped, held for two days and mentally and physically tortured.” Tony moved close and put a hand on Spencer’s shoulder. When all he did was relax into the touch and not push Tony away, he knew one of two things, he was calming down and getting ready to let it go, or, Spencer was just getting started. Aaron had told him once that Spencer’s quiet anger was always worse. A quiet Spencer meant a pissed off Spencer who could cut you to the bone with just his words.
“He had DID, Dissociative Personality Disorder. Three personalities locked in one man and each one crazier than the other. Raphael, the Angel, he tried to get me to confess my sins. I kept those locked deep inside, and I refused to play his game. Do you know what it’s like to have a camera on you as you’re being tortured?”
John closed his eyes and swallowed thinking back to his time as a POW.
“Spencer, I never knew. I’m so sorry…”
“You want to know?”
“What?” John looked at him confused. Tony could tell he wanted to step back, but if he did, he knew John would lose Spencer forever. This was a test, a test of wills between the two brothers and it just needed to finish playing out. Tony could see that this was a long time coming.
“Sir. We should stop this.” Tony heard Carter saying under her breath.
“No. No, they need to get this out.”
“You want to know my confession?” There was a coldness to Spencer’s voice that Tony had never heard before and was genuinely afraid for him.
“Spence, we can talk about this later.”
Spencer snorted, and Tony knew that years of pain and frustration had built up to this moment. Spencer was not going to let it go.
“My biggest sin, my biggest secret, was that I wished Catherine had really been my Mother.” Tony could not keep the shock off his face, and neither could John. “When Dad brought me home, I knew, for the first time in my life what a Mother was supposed to be like. I didn’t have to worry. I didn’t have to be the parent. You have no idea what that was like for me. When you shut me out, something broke inside me because it was a stark reality that I never truly belonged.”
Tony’s heart broke for his friend. He wanted to take Spencer away from this, to get him alone and let him work out his pain and frustration in private, with him. He wanted to help Spencer let go.
“Spencer…shit.” John closed his eyes, and all the fight went out of him. He threw his arms around Spencer and held him close till he went from rigid, to compliant and wrapping his arms around him pulling John even closer. “I’m sorry, kid. I’m so sorry. You’re right, we had no right to ignore your grief.”
“I hated myself when Hankel made me remember all of that. It’s why It took so long for me to stop using.”
Tony heard the intake of breath as John pushed Spencer back, but didn’t let go of him.
“What are you talking about.”
“Shit,” Spencer closed his eyes and pulled away, crossing his arms over his stomach. “I didn’t, I wasn’t, I never wanted you to know.”
“Dilaudid. Hankel shot me up with Dilaudid, for two days I was drugged against my will. When I got home…I didn’t stop. Not for months.”
“Fuck, Spencer,” John cursed as he walked away trying to get a handle on his own emotions. When he walked back, he grabbed Spencer by the shoulders and made him look at him. “We need to do better.”
“Yeah, yeah we do.” Spencer pulled away and started to walk away. The fight was over, but nothing was completely resolved. Tony knew that it was going to take time for them to work all of this out. Giving one last look at John, Tony went after Spencer. He was thankful that the rest of the group acted they had not heard anything. Then the General was telling his team to keep their traps shut, as he put it. Tony couldn’t help being just a bit amused.
“Hey, what do you need, Spencer?” Tony asked as he caught up with his friend.
Spencer’s whole demeanor shifted as he let his eyes travel over Tony’s face.
“Follow my orders. Don’t question me and when we get back, let me hurt you, and tie you up.”
Tony nodded, “Okay. I can do that.” He felt eyes on the back of his head and turned to see John with a little twinge of jealousy in his eyes. Tony wasn’t going to be responsible for his feelings, John wasn’t his Dom.
Two days after their journey through the gate, Tony was being introduced to David and Patrick Sheppard. He could feel the tension between the family but had no clue how to help them. Spencer said that he and John had talked out a lot of things and were on more even ground. Now, he was finally telling his father and older brother a lot of the things that he had held onto so hard. When all Patrick did was wrap his son up in his arms and apologize for not being there for him, Tony left them to work all of this out.
Tony thought about Jack and all that his son had been through. He was in Daniel’s lab with John sifting through a large box of play sand that Daniel had buried some toys and other things for Jack to find. Tony was on his knees next to Jack, who was happily telling him all about what he was doing.
“See, Papa. This thing goes like this.” Tony stifled a laugh as Jack used a small excavation rake to sift through the sand. “And see, I can find things. I found a superhero, like Daddy,” Jack held up a Captain America action figure. Tony choked up a little as he settled a hand on Jack’s shoulder. The boy didn’t even skip a beat as he continued showing Tony his treasures. “And a ball and these rocks and these things.” Jack held up each thing then set it carefully down next to the box.
Tony noted in his mind that Jack was falling back into the Italian less and less. It wasn’t altogether gone, but Tony knew his son was feeling safer. He still wanted to have Jack talk to someone, but he would wait till they got to Atlantis.
“He really got into it, so I just kept putting things in there. Hope you don’t mind.”
Tony stood up and leaned against the desk when he heard Daniel come in.
“Thank you. I know Jack understands on one level, but I don’t think it truly registers. I know he misses Aaron. I just…”
Daniel leaned against the desk next to Tony, letting him talk.
“I was a little older when my Mom died. I knew what was going on. Jack is only four, what the hell am I doing?” Tony scrubbed his face as he watched Jack play and babble to himself. Then he’d get excited when he found a new ‘present’.”
“Thank you, for doing this. You didn’t have to.”
“My Grandfather, it was something we did after my parents died. He may have been a bastard, but he tried.”
“My father was an abusive, neglectful asshole. I never want Jack to know a single day of pain or fear. Somedays I have no clue what the f…hell I’m doing.”
Daniel chuckled at the near-expletive, “Tony, I know we haven’t known each other long, but that little boy loves you. Whatever you are doing, keep doing it because he’s as happy as any kid can be that just lost someone. You are the one getting him through this, give yourself a break.”
“Thanks. You don’t mind watching him? I’ve been invited out with the Sheppard clan, and I don’t want to overwhelm Jack. Besides, things might be said that he shouldn’t be around.”
Daniel smiled, and Tony couldn’t help appreciating the Dr.’s good looks. Another time, other circumstances, he might have talked Daniel into his bed, but he knew that O’Neill would never share. Too bad, thought Tony.
“We’ll be okay. I have some Ancient kids toys that he might like to play with. I promise they are just toys and we have already cataloged and researched them. They are safe.”
“Oh, it’s not you I’m worried about. McKay had a very hungry eye when it came to Spencer and myself.”
Daniel laughed and shook his head knowing McKay would try to manipulate, cajole and beg for Spencer and Tony to be his personal light switches.
“Yeah, you might have to have Weir and Sheppard reign him in. Go on, we’ll be fine.”
Tony bent down and picked Jack up to sit on his knee.
“Hey buddy, will you be alright with Daniel here till I get back? I promise I will only be gone a couple of hours.”
“Okay, Papa.” Jack kissed Tony on his cheek. He smoothed the boy’s hair back then picked up the Captain America figure, pressing it into Jack’s hand.
“Here, Captain America will watch out for you till I get back, okay?”
Jack smiled and threw his arms around Tony. It was only after the boy was settled and playing again that Tony felt it safe to leave. He said his goodbyes to Daniel then went to go meet Spencer and his family for an evening out. Tony wasn’t sure what to expect, he just hoped they all behaved themselves.
Tony wondered if the Sheppard’s were always this loud, or if they were somehow unloading a lot of pent up emotions all at the same time. He was glad now that he didn’t bring Jack. He had never known his parents to raise their voices in front of him. Tony had enough, so he stood up and whistled loud enough that everyone stopped.
“I think the problem here is that not only are you all talking at once, boys and girls, but you aren’t actually listening. Now, we are going to play a little game.” Tony took all of the stray straws scattered on the table, took one straw and cut it short, then put them back in his hand, sort of shuffling them around. Starting with Patrick Sheppard, Tony made him take a straw. He then went around the whole table. No one stopped him because they were wondering just what he was doing.
“Alright, who has the short straw?”
David’s wife, Celine, a pretty little Sub with dark hair and dark eyes from his own house, smiled and held it up.
“Miss Celine, this is what’s going to happen. Celine will get her say, and no one will interrupt. Not even her husband. Then she will pass the straw to her left, and that person will get their turn. So forth and so on. Right now, no one’s a Sub, no one’s a Dom, no one is a son, no one is a Father. Obviously, you guys have a lot of pent up issues, and yelling isn’t going to help. Now, you may have the floor.” Tony did a little bow towards Celine, who giggled a little and shook her head.
“Anthony, you have been the voice of reason in the chaos. I do have a few things to say to everyone in private, especially you Spencer, but later. For now, all I will say is that you are all idiots. You, Spencer, are not blameless in all of this. I know you were hurt, but you also wouldn’t let anyone help you. I was there, remember?
“You, Patrick, ignored your son’s pain. You also were unreasonably angry at John for not wanting any part of Sheppard Industries. But, you have to let your boys make their own way. And, John, you’ve been angry about your Father’s taking a new Sub that isn’t your Mother. You all have to put your bullshit aside and move on. Alec, don’t think you are perfect because you aren’t. You just haven’t done anything as stupid as the others. Now, I’ve said my piece. The floor is yours, Alec.” Celine passed the straw to the youngest Sheppard who espoused how hurt he was that his brother’s and father were all fighting and not talking. He let everyone know how that made him feel.
Spencer then had the straw, and he grudgingly apologized for blaming everyone for his own grief. This went around the table, of course passing Tony and McKay, who was also there at the dinner. Then it got to Patrick.
“You’re right, Spencer. We did shut you out when we shouldn’t have. Catherine loved you dearly, and I think she would be ashamed at how we have all acted from losing her. I didn’t bring Trevor into the family to replace your mother, John. But, he has loved all of you equally.” Patrick then zeroed in on Tony.
“As for you, Mr. DiNozzo, I’d like to know what your angle is.”
Tony frowned as he looked Patrick Sheppard right in the eye.
“Obviously Spencer cares very much for you, and John hasn’t been able to keep his eyes off of you this whole time. Are you playing my sons?”
“Dad,” Spencer and John yelled as they looked horrified at their father.
“I’m protecting my family.”
“You’re acting like a jackass, Dad.” John threw his napkin down on the table and pushed away as if he was going to leave.
“It’s okay, John. Other than you and Spencer, your family doesn’t know me.” John sat back down, and Tony looked right at Patrick again. “I can assure you, Mr. Sheppard, that Spencer has been one of my best friends for the last four years. I don’t wear your son’s collar.” Tony touched it and breathed deep to stem the emotions that had been stirred up. “My Dom was killed six weeks ago by a psychopath that had been stalking him. He was the Unit Chief of the FBI’s BAU, the same unit Spencer has been working in. I…”
“Tony, you don’t need to explain to anyone, least of all my father. What’s between us, is between us, and no one else.”
“He thinks I’m trying to gold dig, Spencer.”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“It’s true, Spencer. I’m just making sure that this man didn’t set his sights on you because of your money.”
“Let me guess, you had a business deal with my father that went south, and because of that you assume that I am in some way a chip off the ol’ block… is that it? If so then I have to tell you I wouldn’t do that to my son. Jack just lost his father after losing his mother in childbirth. The only person he has left is me, and I would do anything in the world for him. I would not hurt him like my father hurt me.”
“And I will not have you disparaging my cousin, Patrick.” Tony looked up and flashed that blinding smile of his. One he hadn’t shown in weeks as he jumped out of his chair and ran to the man standing there.
“Eddie.” Tony was grabbed in a tight hug. “Ash?” Tony looked behind the man he called Eddie and saw a tall, thin man standing there. “What are you two doing here?”
“We came to see what kind of trouble you had gotten yourself into, Anthony. Seems a Trent Kort said something to Felix Leiter, who then told Bond. And you know who Bond tells all his secrets too.”
“Are you going to invite us in or do you want to go talk somewhere more private.”
“No, no come into the crazy, I’m sure you’ll have a lot of fun.” Tony then turned to the curious faces that were staring at him. “Everyone, these are my cousins Edward Paddington, and Ashcroft Roosevelt Paddington. MI6’s Quartermaster and Eddie here is 008. Don’t worry, everyone here has very high clearance levels.”
“Yes, to be included in the Stargate program I’d assume that all of you have NDA’s in place.”
“And just how do you know about an American top secret program?” John narrowed his eyes at the man.
“I can assure you, Colonel Sheppard, that I was able to break into your security protocols and no one was the wiser, not even your Colonel Carter. I’m Quartermaster for a reason.” Ash smirked at the man as he and Edward found spots at the table next to Tony.
“I have not seen you since the funeral, and I wanted to give you this, Tony.” Tony took an envelope from Edward with shaking hands. He opened it and his breath caught in his throat.
“Edward,” Tony choked as he looked at the piece of paper in his hand. “You didn’t have to do this.”
“I wanted to. You know I thought Aaron was perfect for you. I’ve never seen anyone love you the way he did. I was very glad when you accepted his collar. He had asked me to make sure you were alright if anything happened to him.”
Tony carefully folded the paper up and put it back into the envelope. Tony excused himself as he fled the private room at the restaurant they were at.
“Aaron Hotchner set up a foundation to help children that lost their parents. When his wife died in . childbirth, he was devastated. He lost his wife and Sub and now had a baby to take care of while in a demanding career. While his House helped him through some of it, it was still difficult. Though Tony and him had been in a platonic situation, it wasn’t till about six months later that it turned into something more Another six months and he was collaring Tony. Now, I was wary because Tony has a habit of falling hard and fast. When I met them well, it’s hard to describe.”
“They were beautiful together. Everyone was envious of their relationship, and for those first months, they were a platonic couple.” Ash glared at Patrick. “To disparage our cousin is to court bad blood between the Sheppards and the Paddingtons. We don’t want to see several important contracts suddenly…lost now do we?”
“Edward, you have to understand that I just want to protect my sons.”
“And you know full well they are fully grown gentlemen and can make their own decisions. I would think that you would want to repair what’s been broken instead of being a complete jackass.”
No one at the table had noticed when John had gotten up and went after Tony. He found him outside sitting on a bench looking a little lost.
“Are you okay?”
“Edward just put two million dollars into the Haley Hotchner Foundation. He and Aaron got along very well. They ran in the same circles growing up, but never officially met till me. Edward’s generosity has always stunned me.”
John reached out and took Tony’s hand, gently making lazy circles with his thumb over the back.
“He seems quite protective. When I left, he was basically blackmailing my Father.” John chuckled a little.
“Uncle Clive took me in when my Father abandoned me in a hotel in Hawaii. Most of them have been pretty protective, except my cousin Crispin who is unreasonably jealous and an enormous twatwaffle.”
John snorted and let out a laugh as he held Tony’s hand.
“Look, I don’t know what I’m ready for, John. I like you, a lot. And believe me, when you were on the Seahawk if I didn’t have Aaron I probably would have climbed you like a tree. Just, give me time.”
“I can do that. Are you okay?”
“Good, cause I don’t really want to face those cousins of yours without you there. Jeez, they’d make a Wraith cower in fear.”
Tony laughed and agreed that they probably would.
Tony was sitting on his favorite pier leaning back on his arms and staring up at the stars. He still wasn’t quite used to the different star patterns in the sky. The ache of losing Aaron was still there, but each day it was getting better. Tony had also come to the realization on just how toxic NCIS had actually become. He knew it intellectually, but it was hard to come to terms with emotionally.
“Thought I’d find you out here.” John sat next to Tony on the pier and handed him a beer. “You’re lucky I’m not your Dom or else you would be punished for that stunt you pulled yesterday.”
“Hey, you asked me here to do a job, I did the job. I can’t help it that people have a tendency to shoot at me. Though, I do have to say it is a new experience to have someone shoot you with an arrow.”
John snorted as he cracked open his beer and took a swig.
“That wasn’t on my resume? Trouble magnet?” Tony laughed as he took a sip of his beer.
“As I recall there wasn’t an actual resume.”
Tony shook his head as he sipped his beer.
“How are you doing, Tony?” John’s tone turned more serious as he eyed Tony a moment.
“I’m okay. Why?”
“I haven’t seen you with Spencer as much lately.” John slid a look over to Tony while he dangled his legs over the pier.
“You haven’t been paying attention to your little brother?” Tony couldn’t help the small smirk that formed on his lips.
“What are you talking about?” John had his beer halfway to his lips when he looked over at Tony with utter confusion on his face. Tony tried to stifle the laugh that wanted to bubble up and escape his lips. “DiNozzo, what is going on with Spencer?”
“Okay, Sheppard, you cannot tell me that you have not noticed Spencer and McKay circling around each other these past six months.”
“What?! I’ll kill him,” John jumped up ready to lay into his best friend. Tony stood and grabbed John’s shoulder.
“Whoa, there soldier boy. Spencer is a grown man. He also knows his own mind. He and McKay get along really well, and if you’ve noticed Spencer can speak geek and translate it, so we all understand what your Chief Scientist is actually saying. Plus, he makes sure McKay eats and gets proper sleep.”
“How have I not seen this?” Tony actually felt for the guy. Having his little brother on Atlantis was rocky at first, till Spencer showed his brother what he could actually do. And, John needed reminding that Spencer had gone after serial killers for a living. Not exactly a job for a weak person.
“I think because you didn’t want to see it. Come on, take a few deep breaths and relax. Spencer can take care of himself. He certainly was able to respond when the Wraith attacked us on Soros. That should have proved to you that he isn’t afraid, and can handle a gun.”
“Yeah, that was pretty epic. Alright, doesn’t mean I have to like it.” John sat back down and pouted slightly as he unconsciously started to peel the label off the bottle.
“I always wanted a big brother, Edward was the closest I ever got, but he was pretty cool growing up. Spencer is lucky to have you.”
The two men fell into a companionable silence, sipping their beers and enjoying the cool evening air.
“You evaded my question earlier. How are you, Tony?”
Tony let his gaze wander out across the water as he once again let his legs dangle off the pier.
“I guess I’m doing okay. With Spencer spending time with McKay, I’ve not…it hasn’t been easy. Why so interested in my well-being Sheppard?” Tony lifted a brow as he looked sideways towards John.
The, now Colonel, shrugged slightly as he let his eyes travel Tony’s body.
Tony wasn’t unaware of one Colonel John Sheppard’s interest in him. It had been there from their first meetings at Stargate Command. He had been hesitant not just because he was healing from his grief, but ultimately John was his boss. Tony laid down on the cool, smooth floor of the pier and looked up at the stars trying to get his thoughts in order. He wasn’t sure whether he wanted to hear what John had to say.
“Because I like you DiNozzo. Not just as a member of Atlantis, that part was easy. But, I like you. I see the grief you have been carrying slowly lifting from your eyes and a part of me has wanted to help, but you have kept everyone except Spencer at arm’s length.”
Tony closed his eyes and let his mind wander for a moment. He let himself wonder what it would be like to be with John. The attraction wasn’t one-sided, Tony had felt it too, but he had been nowhere near ready when he arrived at Stargate Command. Tony had been feeling antsy as of late, ever since Spencer showed his interest in McKay and wanted the freedom to pursue that interest. Tony had been more than happy to give up his relationship with his friend if it meant that Spencer had found someone he could be happy with. So far it seemed to be working. He didn’t think it would be long till the young genius offered his collar to McKay, Tony would have to wait and watch. He would hate it if McKay hurt Spencer, but Tony didn’t think that was going to happen.
“I know, you have to realize that the last few years at NCIS were not the best. Even Aaron was trying to get me to quit. But, I always felt like I owed Gibbs something. Things were good for a long time. Even when Kate came on board. But, after she was killed, then with Gibbs losing his memory, things changed and not for the better. People I thought were friends…weren’t.”
“That’s a lot of broken trusts.”
“Yeah. And it all just got worse when Aaron died and I assumed responsibility of taking care of Jack, it’s been hard for me to trust again.”
John watched Tony for a few minutes trying to come to some type of a decision. He moved closer and cupped Tony’s cheek. He was quiet while he gently ran a thumb over Tony’s lips, then followed the line of his jaw to his ear.
“If you tell me to stop, I will. If not, come with me to my quarters tonight.”
Tony swallowed and closed his eyes, letting the feel of John’s fingers on his face reach inside him.
“I don’t know what I’m ready for.” Tony wanted honesty with John and with himself.
“Then we take it slow. I want you Tony, but I won’t push.”
Tony moved to where he was leaning up on his side with one hand behind his head holding himself up. He studied John for a few moments before he leaned in and took a chance. Lips pressed together in a chaste kiss had Tony’s stomach doing little flips. When he pulled back, he waited to see what John was going to do.
John reached out and gently grabbed the back of Tony’s neck pulling him in closer. He kissed him a little harder, a little more passionate. Tongues touched experimentally but never went past their lips. Pulling back Tony touched his forehead to John’s while trying to catch his breath.
“I’ll go back with you.” Tony surprised himself but knew this was what he wanted.
“I’ll take care of you, Tony.”
Standing up he followed John back to his quarters not knowing what to expect but knew that John wouldn’t push him for something he wasn’t ready to give. This was the first step towards truly living again, trusting again, and Tony wanted that. He wanted to stop just moving through his life and not connecting or trusting anyone, this was the first big step and Tony was ready to take it.
Tony slowly woke and rolled onto his stomach. He stretched letting himself feel every single ache from the night before. While he and John hadn’t had sex, they came close to it, but Tony just wasn’t ready for that step yet. Tony closed his eyes and smiled to himself while he thought about what they did do. Tony had thought Spencer was a genius at tying him up, he had nothing on John. The man was a master at it, and Tony had been able to fall into his Submission very quickly. He wondered if he should be worried about that, but when a hand caressed down his back, Tony seriously wanted to purr.
“Morning,” John murmured against Tony’s shoulder before kissing the mark he had left there.
“It’s still early, we don’t have to be boarding a jumper for a while yet.”
“True, but I need you focused.”
Tony chuckled as he pushed up slightly and turned his head to look over at John. The feelings he had started to feel for the man were floating there on the surface, but he was nowhere near ready to voice them.
Their friendship had started out easy. First on missions, Tony showing just what he was made of. Late night talks, movie marathons with the movies that Tony was able to bring. Days off with Jack on the mainland where he could play with the Athosian children and John coming with them.
“I forgot, Jack made you something. One of the kids on the mainland showed him how to weave these little bracelets. He wanted to give it to you, but he fell asleep. Spencer and McKay took him last night saying I needed a day off.”
John swallowed hard as he let his fingers trace Tony’s Consort mark on his back. The large double wolf’s head had intrigued the man who spent almost an hour doing very wicked things to Tony’s back.
“I don’t know what to say. I feel completely out of my depth here, Tony. I mean, kids are great, and the ones on the settlement, I care about, but I…”
“Yeah, it can be overwhelming. Jack has come to care for you, just like he has McKay. The one person I need to watch, though, is Ronon. I swear, I never know what he’s going to try to teach my son and it is, frankly, slightly frightening.”
John laughed as he moved to straddle Tony’s thighs, running his hands up and down his back.
“Can you tell me who your Master was?”
Tony sighed into the pillow. John hadn’t asked the night before, but he knew it would come up. Tony knew that John knew how much it meant to him. He was grateful that he didn’t bring it up during their scene the night before because that would have pulled him right out of it.
“It was Aaron.” Tony wondered if it would always be this way, that saying his name would always be an ache, or would he eventually forget. He didn’t want that. He didn’t want to ever forget the man that had been his everything just a few months ago, but he also knew he was beginning to move on, to heal and it scared him more than he wanted to admit.
“Tony, I don’t know where we are going, or what you eventually want, but I know he was important to you. You have a piece of him with you always in Jack. I would never want you to lose those memories or forget what he meant to you.”
Tony took a shuddering breath and nodded against the pillow.
“Thank you. That means a lot, John.” Tony sighed as a kiss was placed in the middle of his back, then John was moving off of him. He regretted that they had to get up and get started for the day, but Stargates and Missions waited for no one.
As soon Tony walked back to his own rooms, Jack came running at him.
“Papa, Uncle Roney said I could spend the day with him. Can I Papa?”
“Rod-ney, Jack, not Roney.”
“Ro-da-ney.” Tony wasn’t quite successful in stifling his laugh.
“Good enough, for now, kid. As to you spending the day with him, could this have to do with the new tech that was recently found?”
Jack bit his lip and looked at Tony with bright, wide eyes. Spencer and Rodney were trying very hard to keep their laughter to themselves as they watched father and son.
“Figlio, somehow I don’t believe you, but if your Uncle Rodney promises not to use you as a light up toy, then you can spend the day with him while I go on Mission with the team.” Tony turned to look at McKay with a questioning glance.
“I’m staying behind on this one to get the Ancient tech we found cataloged and secured till we can start testing safely. I don’t trust the other idiots under me to be smart or safe with the new toys. And you should know I would never use the kid like that. Spencer on the other hand…” McKay got a wicked smile on his face, and a face full of potato as Spencer flung it at him.
“Don’t let Sheppard hear you say that. Remember what he did to the last scientist that tried to use Spencer as a human lightbulb.”
“My brother is a bully,” Spencer groused as he glared at McKay.
“Your brother cares about you and wants to make sure that the scientists remember that you are a human being and also a scientist. Now, we need to get going for the Mission. You’re certain you want to stay behind McKay?” John had said as he sauntered into the room.
“Yes, Sheppard, for the last time I am fine sitting this one out. It was my idea, remember? And, I want to get started on trying to figure out what the hell it is we brought back from Rigel III. That temple has a lot more, and if you hadn’t screwed things up, we would be going back there.”
Tony turned to John and raised a brow. He hadn’t heard this one. Tony had stayed in Medical working with a couple of Marines on their physical therapy. Tony was finding the variety of jobs he had on Atlantis, not only fun but very stimulating as well. His mind had always run full-stop, and before Tony would use cold cases as his excuse to try to calm it when Aaron had been gone for days on a case. Now he juggled the PT duties, with first contact missions and so far it was working out great.
“What did you do?” Tony asked as he furrowed his brow.
“Nothing. Look, we’ll talk about it later, right now we have a first contact mission, so come on.” Tony just shook his head knowing John would eventually tell him what happened when he was ready. Or, he would just read the mission reports and decide whether to be mad at the man or not.
“Okay, little man. You can stay with Rodney, just don’t leave the lab.”
“I’ll be there as well, Tony. Don’t worry, we’ll watch Jack for you. Besides, I think Radek doesn’t want to admit that he is completely taken by Jack.” Spencer took the boy from Tony’s arms and held him close. Tony knew that Spencer too was still healing from Aaron’s loss, they had been very close, almost like brothers themselves. He was glad that Jack could help be that balm for him and that McKay was quickly becoming very important as well. Tony made a mental note that he would have to take some time to spend with Spencer, the two of them had not had much time together since Spencer had shown his interest in the acerbic scientist.
“Okay, Papa. I’ll be good.”
Jack had gotten better at being left behind on the City. The first time Tony had gone on a mission, Jack had cried thinking that he wasn’t going to come back. It took him almost an hour to calm the boy down enough that he could leave. Then the guilt reared its ugly head inside Tony, and he almost missed the body language that the people on the planet were giving off. A very dangerous misunderstanding was averted, but Tony knew his head was elsewhere at the time. When they had gotten back to Atlantis, Jack threw himself at Tony. It took the both of them time to be able to be separated. But, they were muddling through, and Jack was getting much better, as was Tony.
Stepping out of the jumper onto a new planet still gave Tony a thrill as he looked around at his surroundings. He checked and made sure he had his Zat gun, and the preferred P90 strapped around his front. He had double checked his pack before leaving the spacecraft and was ready by the time John stepped down out of the craft.
Tony waited while John ordered the two Lieutenants to stay behind while he, Teyla, and Ronon started their trek towards the settlement that had been picked-up on long range sensors just days before.
“We have not had a chance to spend much time together, Anthony.” Teyla walked beside him and gave him a crooked smile.
“Yeah, trying to get Jack settled in has been the biggest priority.”
“Charra tells me that you are a skilled healer. She is walking much better after her time with you. I spoke with Halling, and there are a couple of our people that might benefit from your skills. That is if you wouldn’t mind.”
Tony felt flattered. He knew how much Teyla valued her people and that they were still a little rocky after they found out she had Wraith blood in her. Of all the individuals, Spencer had found himself in the middle of an argument with Teyla and Halling. Spencer, using all his interrogation and negotiation skills, was able to make them make peace with each other. They listened because he was an outside perspective and used that to his advantage. There was still a lot of work to do between them, but it was at least a start. It didn’t hurt that Spencer was an avid Atheist and didn’t really believe much when it came to religion. He could be the voice of reason for the both of them.
“I don’t mind at all. They would have to come to the city, though. I can’t help them in the village.”
“I will talk with them and see if that will be agreeable to them.” Tony felt like Teyla was studying him. “I have known John for over a year now, and even if we joke about the women that have thrown themselves at him, I know he hasn’t had much in the way of companionship. The way he looks at you, I have never seen him look at others that way.”
Tony took a deep breath as he looked up at the sky for a moment, then back down at Teyla.
“I like him too. I’m just…it’s difficult to move on, and I’ve made a lot of changes in my life these last few months. I have to think of Jack first, myself second. It’s helped that so many on the city have basically adopted my son.” Tony chuckled as Teyla blushed.
Teyla laid a hand on his arm and gave him a gentle smile.
“Losing someone is never easy. I did not know this Aaron, but I have a feeling that I would have liked him from how you speak of him. You have done so much for all of us since you have come to Atlantis, there is something I would like to do for you if you are willing.”
John finished what he was doing in the Jumper, then walked towards them signaling that they should move out.
“We have a ceremony that has helped many of our people to say goodbye. I only understand some of your rituals when it comes to your deceased, but I would like to do this for you. Maybe it could help you move on.”
Tony walked beside Teyla while Ronon walked with John. They were going at an easy gait and would reach the village in less than an hour. Tony thought about Teyla’s offer. He normally was not a religious man, but out here in the middle of what was in essence a war zone, he was willing to admit there were a few times he had sent up a prayer or two. He felt honored that Teyla had essentially accepted him as one of her own. She had taken to Jack as many people on the City had. The boy needed a mother figure, and Teyla had seemed to slot herself into that role with no encouragement from Tony. It seemed good for the both of them, so he left it alone. It didn’t hurt that he often found himself in receipt of little gifts from Teyla for both himself and for Jack.
“I don’t see how it could hurt. I would be very honored.”
“Good. I will set it up.”
The rest of the way was done in near silence, no one wanted to talk as they made it the rest of the way to the village. Tony went on alert the closer they got to where they were going. He slung his P90 back around his back and took the lead as they stepped into the perimeter of the village.
A tall, dark man stood and came close to the group. Tony was reminded of Derek Morgan a little, but he quickly pushed those memories aside He did not need to be compromised in a first contact situation.
“You are strangers to our village.” The man narrowed his eyes and crossed his arms as he looked over the small group.
“Yes. We came through the Ring of the Ancestors. We are looking to trade with your people.”
“You are the people we have heard about. The ones that are living on the Lost City of the Ancestors.”
“How did you hear about that?” John asked as he narrowed his eyes at the, what Tony assumed, was the leader.
“You seem distrustful when we haven’t even talked about what we are willing to trade?”
Tony laid a hand on John’s arm, telling him with a touch that he would handle this. After all, this is what he was brought out here for.
“I’m sorry. We just have had people who appear as friends only for them to turn on us and attack. We understand that with the Wraith awakening, it’s difficult to know exactly who to trust. But, we come here in good faith and hope to establish a friendship between us.”
The man relaxed his stance and studied the four of them for a moment, then nodded his head.
“Then come, and we shall talk. My name is Solna.”
“Solna, I’m Tony. This is John, Ronon, and Teyla. Can I assume that you are the leader of your people?”
“I am the one they turn to when important decisions need to be discussed. But everyone in the village has a voice. Sit. Would you like something to drink or eat?”
“I think we’re good for now.” Tony smiled cordially as he sat at a long table that was on the outside of the houses dotting the area. It looked like a communal eating and cooking area. Tony saw some crops in the back of the main set of housing. “Can I ask what you grow?”
“We have several crops. Here, try this drink. It is a favorite among our people.” Tony looked down at the dark brew in the cup that Solna had given him. When he raised the cup, the smell was something close to coffee. He took a small sip and almost moaned in pleasure. Even though the Daedalus had brought a good supply of coffee with them, it was quickly running out, thanks to Rodney and Spencer alone. He turned to John with a broad smile on his face as he held up the cup.
“Tastes like coffee.”
“Are you serious?”
“Yes, just not as bitter or acidic. It’s quite good.” Tony put the cup back on the table. He wasn’t foolish enough to drink the whole thing right away. He had done that once, and well his penchant for getting kidnapped wasn’t any different in the Pegasus Galaxy than it was on Earth.
“We would be willing to trade with you. This is delicious.”
“And what would you be willing to trade?”
“Food, harvesting techniques to help make it faster and easier. Medicines. But, first, we would need to know where you heard about us.”
Solna leaned on the table with folded hands and looked Tony in the eye.
“A small group of Genii came through here about four turns of our moons ago. We used to have a good rapport with them. Trading and a guarded friendship. I must tell you that I did not trust them entirely. If it weren’t for the fact they had food and plants to trade, I would never have let them into my village.”
“Shit.” John stood and paced, trying to keep from getting angry. He knew there were still Genii out there, their threat wasn’t lessened just because Koyla was gone.
“I assure you, that when I learned the truth of them, they were no longer welcomed. They tried to steal one of our most precious artifacts.”
“Oh? Can I ask what?”
Solna smiled and stood, “Follow me, and I will show you.” The man walked toward a building that was a more substantial structure than the cabin like houses. Something in Tony’s gut started to burn. The building was incongruous to the rest of the village. It looked too new, too modern from the rest of the architecture. There was something off and Tony wasn’t sure what it was.
“This is our learning center. We are still building parts of it. Come, it’s back here.” The four followed along till they ended up at the back of the building and there, sitting on a pedestal was something that would make McKay weep, a ZPM. “One of our people found this when he was digging in an area about two days walk from here. We’ve been trying to study it, but can’t figure out what it is.”
“You mind?” Tony reached out like he was going to touch it, and Solna indicated that it was okay. When Tony laid his hand on it, the ZPM lit up. Both Tony and John tried not to show their excitement at seeing a mostly full ZPM sitting there.
“How, how did you do that? None of our people have been able to make it do anything.”
This was where Tony deferred to John. He left them talking and started to walk around the building. That feeling that something about all of this was off was getting stronger the more he looked around. Something about Solna and his immediate friendliness was off as well. Those little warning bells he had always relied on in the past were going off wildly in his head. But, he didn’t feel danger emanating from Solna, he felt like the man was lying about something, he just didn’t know what it was.
After his once around the inside of the building, that was just a little too perfect for Tony’s liking, he made his way back to the room with the ZPM. The whole thing screamed artificial. Tony narrowed his eyes at Solna and went with his instincts.
“This isn’t real. I think the only thing that is real is the ZPM. And you aren’t what you say you are.”
“Tony?” John asked as he moved away from Solna.
“Don’t you see it? This is all too perfect. The village, this building even you, Solna. It all feels…artificial.”
“And what makes you think this, Tony?”
“Because I’ve been in traps before and while I don’t believe this is a trap, this whole thing has the feel of one. It’s coming from you. Wasn’t it odd, John, that none of the villagers interacted with us? Just Solna. And, what is the one thing that the geeks have been complaining about?”
“Coffee and how it’s now being rationed till the Prometheus can get to us for resupply.”
“Exactly.” Tony eyed Solna as he stepped up to him. “So, tell us, who are you really?”
The man looked at Tony, impressed.
“You are right, Tony. But, it’s not a trap. It is a test. One that many have failed. With the number of weapons that you carry, I assumed that you also would fail.”
“And what test is this?” John didn’t even try to hide his annoyance.
“A test to see if you would just take what you call the ZPM. I know exactly what it is and who it was meant for.”
“You’re an Ancient.”
“Indeed, Colonel Sheppard, but I am not ascended. I chose not to go when my people left. Though this planet is inhabited, I wanted to greet you first. To understand your motivations. To make sure you didn’t come to this planet to harm the people that reside here.”
“Well, we are not usually the ones to fire first. We are always ready to negotiate first. You used the Genii to see what we would do.”
“Yes. It was easy to pluck the information from your minds as soon as you came through the Gate. I will not say that I am sorry. These people, it is my duty to protect them and make sure that those abominations do not harm them.”
“Why? What do you get out of it?” Tony wished he was in an interrogation room with Solna. He knew he’d be able to make this whole tet-a-tet move much faster.
“Nothing. But, I feel responsible for them.”
“Why would you feel responsible for them?” John moved closer to Solna, his hands itching to be wrapped around his Zat gun.
“You must have read much of the research we did in this Galaxy. What we did, what I’m ashamed to admit in having a hand in creating these monstrosities that have been unleashed on the people here. I was young and just an assistant at the time, but that is no excuse.”
“How are you still so young looking if you aren’t ascended?”
“When my people decided to leave, to abandon Pegasus and specifically Atlantis, I stole some of the nanite technology. I didn’t use it at first. Taking one of the, what you call Jumpers, I explored. I learned all I could about the people, and when I could no longer keep the craft going, I landed here and have not left. My mentor gave me one of the ZPM’s told me to hold onto it, and I would know when the time was right to use it. I kept it safe, watched the people on this planet grow and I grew old. I didn’t want to leave, didn’t want to die before finding those that deserved the power of the City. So, I used the nanites, and they have kept me young for a very long time.”
“Are you wanting to keep the ZPM?” John looked at the power source and itched to just take it, but he knew from past experiences that sometimes someone needed it more than they did.
“No. It belongs to the City. We did not trust who might come through the gate, but both you John and you Tony are descendants. If the City woke for you, then it is for you to take.”
“Just curious, what would have happened if you found us to be not so honorable?” Ronon crossed his arms and stared at Solna.
“You would have been disintegrated into dust.”
“Oh, okay. Well, I’m so glad that didn’t happen.” John blew out a breath as he approached the pedestal. “You sure about this?”
“I am positive. Take it with my blessing.”
“You could come back with us. We have so many questions. My people would love to hear from someone such as yourself.” Teyla looked hopeful that Solna would agree to come to the City with them.
“No young one. I am tired. I have made my life here, and once you take the ZPM, my nanites will start to die and then I will finally be at rest. I would suggest you go to the real village and meet the people of this world. They are kind and very generous. I’m sure you can make trade with them and help them more than I have been able to.”
John was going to say more, but Solna just smiled and walked away. Tony and John both took a deep breath as they picked up the ZPM and put it in a bag to take with them.
“McKay is so going to be sorry he missed this mission.”
“Oh, yeah. Too bad for him.” Tony couldn’t help the wicked smile on his face almost hearing the tirade the scientist would unleash in his head.
“Let’s go meet the natives, kids.” John started to walk in the direction that had been indicated by Solna, everyone had a little more hope for this mission now that they had a real, full ZPM in their possession.
Tony was grinning like a loon when he walked into Rodney’s lab and set the duffel on one of the tables.
“Okay McGeek, don’t say I don’t ever give you anything nice.” Tony leaned against the opposite counter as McKay frowned at the nickname.
“What did you do? Or did Sheppard do something monumentally stupid and he’s too afraid to tell me? Why are you grinning like that? I worry when you smile like that because it means that you did something monumentally stupid and it makes John crazy when you do which in turn makes me crazy because he bitches at me. So, who was the stupid one?”
“Just look in the bag McRambly,” Tony huffed as he crossed his arms waiting for McKay to walk over to the bag and open it.
“It’s nearly full, and it’s legit, McWonderstruck.”
“Okay, what is with all the goddamned nicknames? It’s McKay, DiNozzo. Do I need to spell it out for you? I mean, did you do this with others you work with or is it just me? What did I ever do to you…”
“Rodney!” Spencer snapped as he came into the room. “Tony used to do that with his partner, Timothy. His name was McGee, and it was a sign of affection between them.”
“Oh. So, what you actually like me?”
“Yeah, McKay I like you. You’re an asshole, but you’re the type of asshole I kinda like. Now, what do we say for the pretty present?”
“Thank you. I-I didn’t expect this.” McKay lifted his chin and swallowed as he looked at least a little chagrined.
“You are welcome. Now I have to go prepare to meet Teyla. Have fun with your new toy.” Tony was walking out of the lab when he heard McKay yell back at him.
“It’s not a toy, thank you very much.”
Tony just shook his head and chuckled as he made his way to his quarters. Teyla had made arrangements with him while they flew back to Atlantis. His mind was jumbled up in a million different directions. He was conflicted about doing the ceremony. There was a part of him that had lost any semblance of faith a long time ago. It was when his mother died to be exact. The tiny sliver that had lived inside him, the part that hoped that there was a God somewhere was extinguished the day that Aaron died at the hands of a psychopath. At the last minute, he took a turn towards John’s office.
When he approached the closed door, Tony lifted his hand to knock.
“Come in,” John said through the door.
Tony entered and did something he had not done in a very long time. He walked to the sub bench that John had in his office, which he was so going to ask about later, and kneeled on it, hands behind his back and head down. He could almost feel John staring at him.
“Sir.” The stirring of something deep inside him that he didn’t want to acknowledge had him frowning to himself. He almost felt like he was looking at himself from the outside in.
He heard more than saw John moving towards him, pulling a chair with him. He felt strong, gentle fingers on his chin lifting so that John could look right at him.
“What’s wrong, Tony?”
Tony took a deep breath and sat back further on the bench.
“It’s this ceremony. My mother died when I was eight, my father had something to do with it, but nothing was ever proven. I thought I had lost all my faith, but then Uncle Clive swooped in and took me to England and raised me. I never fully regained it, but a small bit still floated around in here,” Tony pointed to his heart as he looked down at the floor.
“Then, when I held Jack for the first time, it was…I can’t describe it, John. It scared me and humbled me all at the same time. I had a little of that faith return. I thought, how could something so small and precious not be some kind of miracle. And Aaron. Sunday’s that he was home, he’d want us to go with him to church. He had faith, and it showed in the type of person he was. Then,” Tony’s jaw hardened as he looked back up at John. “Then he was taken from me, and Jack and all I could think about was, if there truly was a God, why the fuck would he let that happen.
“How can I do this ceremony if I have no faith left? Teyla. She’s so sure and steadfast, but I’m, just confused.”
“Tony, you don’t have to believe in anything. Teyla, she won’t hold it against you. She understands more than you think about faith and how people can lose it. She won’t ask more from you than you can give. This ceremony, it’s more about helping you to let go, if you want to. No one will pressure you to do something you don’t want to do or aren’t ready for.”
“I,” Tony sighed softly when a hand cupped his cheek. “I want to be ready. I know, I know I can’t keep holding onto something that is gone.”
“Tony, there isn’t some timetable here. You’re grief and what you’ve gone through is personal to you. Don’t push yourself if you are not ready. I’ll still be here, not going to go anywhere. Yes, I want you and what we could have together, but I’m not going to force you to do anything. Any Dom that would should be stripped of their house marks.”
Tony breathed a sigh of relief and smiled again. He wasn’t sure what he did to deserve the patience John was showing him. He couldn’t even put into words what it was he had felt for Aaron, but John seemed to understand better than anyone back on Earth had. Except maybe his cousins. He had not meant to push them away, but he was barely holding on there for a while and needed to pour all of his concentration onto Jack.
“Thank you, John. I don’t know what I ever did to deserve you.”
“I think when you kicked that Marine’s ass that tried to fuck with me back on the Seahawk kinda did it for me.”
“Please don’t tell me you’ve been pining, Sheppard.”
“No, not pining, but you did fill my fantasies for quite a long time.”
Tony smiled wide and shook his head feeling more settled about this whole letting go ceremony Teyla had planned out. She had said it was going to be small and he could invite whomever he wanted to it.
“Teyla said I could have people come to it if I wanted. I already spoke with Spencer, and he wants to be there. I’d like it if you would come to.”
Tony’s heart was pounding hard in his chest as he tried hard not to look at John with the eagerness that he felt all throughout his body.
“Of course I’ll be there for you.”
“Thank you.” Tony was too full of emotion as he settled back on the bench.
“Tony, you don’t need my permission to stand. I’ll be there shortly, I just need to finish some reports, and close down my work.”
Tony blew out a breath and stood. When John stood as well, he felt his heart beating faster again as the man stood close to him.
“You always have the right to say no, Tony. Never forget that.”
“Oh, I very much want.”
John slid a hand in Tony’s short hair as the other wrapped around his hip. He pulled the Sub closer to him and gently kissed. He kept it between slightly chaste with just a bit of passion. Enough to light a fire in Tony’s very nerves. John slipped his tongue out and gently teased Tony’s lips. Holding him right where he wanted him, John slowly pressed harder, deepened the kiss just a bit more before he pulled back and pressed his forehead to Tony’s.
“I do want more from you, Tony. I’d like to eventually make you mine, in every way, but I won’t ever take advantage of you.” John placed a chaste kiss on Tony’s forehead then pulled out of the embrace leaving a slightly shattered Tony standing there. He nodded to John and left, shaking just a little from the emotions that had been churned up.
An hour later saw Tony with Teyla, John, Spencer, and Ronon in the gym that Teyla had transformed for the ceremony. Tony was kind of blown away by how beautiful it looked. Teyla had draped patterned silks that would make even the best textile makers weep, all over the room. There was soft candle light, and the gym was darkened just enough to give a warm, calming atmosphere. In the middle of the gym, there was a circle of pillows set around to sit on with what looked like an incense burner in the center of the pillows. Teyla herself was wrapped in similar silks and not her normal BDU’s or even the Athosian skirts she often wore on her days off.
Tony couldn’t help the smile or an appreciative eye as he walked in the room. She had told everyone to dress comfortable. Tony had put on a pair of soft linen pants and a shirt that was just a tad too big. It had been one of Aaron’s that he just couldn’t part with. He had a few pieces that he brought with him and set in the back of his closet.
Everyone else was also comfortably dressed. The scent from the incense burner helped Tony relax a little. Teyla had assured him that it would not hurt his lungs in any way. With a smile, she walked up to Tony and took his hands, then pressed her forehead against his.
“This is a safe and welcoming space, Anthony. I hope you find the peace that you seek.” She pulled back and led him towards the circle of pillows and gestured for him to take the one directly across from her. After everyone was seated, Teyla closed her eyes and let the moment surround her, giving off a sense of peace and serenity.
“We are here to honor those that we hold dear but have lost. I honor my Mother and my Father, my lost sisters and brothers. I honor those of my people that have been lost to me. They may have been taken in body, but they will never be taken in spirit.” Teyla had another, larger bowl in front of her. This was made of a heavy metal that looked like brass, but Tony knew wasn’t. Some stones had been set inside and heated. Teyla took up a few pieces of leather that she placed on the stones.
“I return their symbols to them and pray they are doing well in what awaits us beyond our deaths. I will always be grateful for the lessons I learned at my father’s knee. He taught me to be kind and compassionate. Demanding, but fair. To lead our people in love, faith, and honesty. I have tried very hard to honor him.”
Teyla closed her eyes a moment and took a deep breath, then she opened them and turned to Tony.
“Who would you like to honor, Anthony?”
Tony swallowed hard as he took what he brought with him out of his pocket and held it tightly in his hand.
“I would like to honor my Partner, my Lover, my Dom, Aaron Hotchner. He taught me what it means to submit fully, to open myself up to another as I had never done before. He broke down my masks, the ones I had put up as defense against the whole world. He broke me down completely and was there to help build me back up. His love and devotion, to me, to our son, to his team were one of honor and respect. He was a quiet man, often not saying much, but when he did speak, it was always important. I was his Sub, his lover, his Consort, and I would do it all over again. He was the best part of me and made me a better man. He showed me what it was to be a father and I only hope to be half as good as he was.” Tony opened his hand and heard Spencer suck in his breath.
“This was more than a badge to him. It was a symbol of honor and duty. It was as much a part of him as his family was. He loved being in law enforcement, we both were a bit married to our jobs. He always said I understood him like no one else ever had. If he’s listening, I love you, Aaron.” Tony choked as he placed the FBI badge he had kept with him on the hot stones.
Closing his eyes, feeling like he was in a safe space, Tony let himself grieve. He had held so much of this in for the last few months, he had not wanted to let go, but Tony knew he had to. The pressure, the emotions had become too much, and for once Tony let himself go. He felt two hands wrap around each wrist. Spencer on his left, John on his right and knew he had people there for him. When Tony wiped his eyes, he felt, empty, but there was a sliver of hope that had replaced some of the grief.
“Anthony, we are honored by your love and your generosity. Thank you for letting us be part of something so personal.” Teyla’s smile was gentle as she reached over and laid a hand on his knee.
“Would anyone else like to honor someone who has left this world?”
Spencer cleared his throat.
“I’m a man of science. Faith and ritual are not something I typically have indulged in. But, I would also like to honor Aaron. He was my teacher, my mentor, and my friend. During one of my darkest times in my life, when I thought everyone had left me alone, he was there to help me. He could have ruined my career, but he didn’t. He let me work through it, and let me know I wasn’t alone. I loved him as a friend, one of my best. He had made me promise, once when we were in a very perilous situation, that if anything happened to him, I would take care of Tony and Jack. I hope that I have lived up to his wishes. He was the best of us, and I will always miss him.” Spencer pulled something out of his pocket and laid it on the hot stones.
Tony sucked in a breath as he looked at what Spencer had laid there.
“He helped me through that first year. That’s as much his as it is mine.”
Tony smiled and took Spencer’s hand and squeezed. He looked to the side to see John’s face, which meant Spencer and John had not talked about Spencer’s addiction since their blowup. Although Teyla and Ronon were a bit confused, they were respectful enough not to ask.
Ronon said a few words about his people and put a piece of paper that looked to Tony like some kind of house crest on the rocks. Then John went and spoke of his mother. He laid a picture in the pile with the other items that were burning. After he had been done, they all sat in silence for a few minutes.
“Thank you, all of you for sharing a part of yourselves with the Ancestors and with me. May you all find a lighter heart and peace.” Teyla bowed a little then everyone was moving. When John and Tony left the room, Tony very nearly fell on his knees in front of John. He was shaky, and he needed something.
“Come on, Tony. I’ll take care of you.” John led Tony to his quarters.
When they entered, John turned to his companion and eyed him critically. Thinking how he wanted to approach this.
“Strip. Completely.” John moved to the cabinet in the corner of the room that he was using for storage of his equipment. He watched Tony strip and didn’t even try to hide the bulge that was forming in his pants. John wanted Tony aware that he wanted him. Turning back to the cabinet he pulled out a few things then moved back to the bed.
“I know we talked about limits, tell me how you are right now, Tony.”
Looking up at John, Tony felt a shudder run through him as the anticipation built up inside him.
“Good. I know that wasn’t easy for you, and I know a part of you is still holding back. I’m going to give you a choice here.”
John laid two different floggers on the bed. One had long strips of silk and cotton with silicon woven through it. It was meant to heighten sensation, not to cause pain. The other looked like a hand braided one that Tony was a little curious about.
“I spent a little time in Japan. One of the smaller, more private houses that teach the art of making your own ropes, floggers, etc. This is called Kumihimo braiding. Just like these are.” John held up long strips of intricately braided flat binding straps.
Tony’s eyes darkened with lust as he looked at the straps. John smiled and held them out for Tony to feel in his hands.
“Oh, that’s nice.” Tony’s smiled widened as he imagined them being wrapped around him.
“A combination of silk, cotton, and linen strands. I want to make more, but we just don’t have the same materials out here in Pegasus. Do you want to try them?”
“God, yes.” Tony kneeled up on the bed and waited to see what John was going to do. Fingers felt his collar, turning it around so John could use the ring. Slipping one end of one of the straps through it, John pulled it down. There were hidden fasteners that let John secure the strap at the top of the loop. He then fastened it at one-inch intervals till he got to the end of the strap. Picking up another one he threaded it through the first small loop at the top, which then wrapped around Tony’s shoulders, then fastened in the front. The next series of straps John wrapped the ends around the arms, binding them against Tony’s sides as he went. When he was done, Tony was completely covered from shoulder to stomach in the braided straps.
“Fuck, you’re gorgeous.” John helped Tony lay down on the bed and noticed how the Sub closed his eyes and was completely relaxed. John took the next set of straps and wrapped Tony’s legs together from just above the knee to the ankles, keeping the knees exposed and free from the pressure of the bindings. John let his fingers wander over Tony’s body, watching the rise and fall of his breath.
Tony felt his whole body go limp at the comforting feel of the bindings. He had been on edge, close to an emotional drop and John had known just what to do for him. Tony let go and let John take care of him. He felt the touches on his exposed skin and pressing lightly over the bindings making Tony fall even deeper into his submission.
When lips touched his own, Tony moaned into the kiss. John took his time in helping Tony reach that place inside him that craved the submission, the letting go. Tony’s mind relaxed by degrees, his body followed. John’s pressing on the bindings mixed with his fingers on his exposed hips and thighs had Tony getting hard.
“Tony, I want you so bad. I want to touch and taste. I want to take you apart inch by inch. I want to make you fall apart. Can I have you DiNozzo?” John whispered against his skin.
Tony didn’t have to think about it, they had been working up to this over the last couple of months, and after the ceremony, he needed something more.
“Yes, Sir. You can have me,” Tony’s eyes were half closed, but John could see the want and the lust burning there. Deft hands undid the straps on his legs freeing them. John pulled them apart and starting at the ankle he pressed kisses into the heated skin, making his way slowly up, leaving marks as he went. Tony’s cock twitched in anticipation, and his head swam with the pleasure. Though he and John had played, it had stayed somewhat platonic, this was the first time that sex was going to be brought into their relationship and Tony knew he very much wanted it.
“I’m going to sit you up, take the rest of the bindings off.” Tony could only nod as John quickly worked to undo him. That didn’t mean John didn’t have something else in mind. When a few minutes later Tony’s arms were tied and hooked to the bed with his legs bent and held in a different set of straps, open and waiting for what John was going to do, Tony slipped further into submission. Tony’s mind emptied and all there was, was John and what he was making Tony feel.
John kissed his mouth hard and needy, then mouthed down his chin and neck. He left dark, bruising marks along Tony’s chest and stomach. John almost moaned with the need he had deep inside for the Sub underneath him. Then, finally after an almost agonizingly long time, Tony felt lips wrap around his cock.
“Fuck,” he cried out as John slid his mouth inch by inch down the hard cock. Using lips, tongue, and just a light scraping of teeth, he brought Tony almost to the brink. Grabbing the lube he had put on the bed earlier, John kneeled on the bed and moved closer to Tony. His front was flush against Tony’s ass, their cocks brushed together making Tony arch wanting more friction.
“Shh, I’ll get you there, trust me, Tone.” John poured the lube into his hand and gripped both of their cocks. He fell forward just enough so he could thrust. Leaning down he took Tony’s mouth in a kiss and made shallow thrusts into his hand making just enough friction to make Tony moan and writhe beneath him in the restraints.
“You’re so beautiful like this. All tied up in the ropes I’ve made, begging, moving under me. I can’t wait for the day when I finally slide my cock inside you and fuck you, making you scream. Do you want that too, Tony? Do you want my cock inside you?”
“Yes, fuck yes.” Tony arched up as best he could in the restraints as he felt the beginnings of his orgasm pull from his groin and his thighs. He was begging for John to move faster.
John gripped a little tighter and started to jack them faster, then Tony’s body tightened up, and a moment later he came in John’s hand. John wasn’t far behind as he grunted and released, splashing his cum over Tony’s stomach.
“Jesus, fuck, Tony,” John panted as he got himself under control. He stood up and grabbed the washcloth he had brought with him and wiped himself off then he cleaned Tony. When he felt steady, he released Tony from his bindings, gently massaging to make sure there were no circulation issues. He made Tony lie back as he walked to his small kitchen and grabbed a bottle of water. “Have some of this before you fall asleep.”
Tony drained half the bottle, then put it on the nightstand next to him.
“Stay, please.” Tony had reached out and grabbed John’s hand. John was initially going to sleep on his couch, giving Tony some distance, but the pleading in Tony’s eyes had him wanting to stay as well.
“Alright.” John smiled, then turned off the lights in his quarters before crawling into bed and wrapping himself around Tony.
When he felt those arms coming around him, Tony felt like he could breathe for the first time in a long time. He closed his eyes and sent up a little prayer that Aaron would forgive him for beginning to move on.
Examples of Kumihimo Braiding