Title: How I ‘Met’ Your Father or Five Times Tony’s Ex-Boyfriends Showing Up In His Life At NCIS Was Cumulatively A Very Bad, Awful, Horrible, Painful Thing Plus One Time When It Was Perfect
Art and Inspiration: Banbury
Pairings: Tony DiNozzo/OMCs, Tony DiNozzo/John Sheppard
Warnings: gay bashing, foul language, slurs, character death (not Tony or John)
Summary: Tony has had many lovers over the years but only one became his husband. A 5 plus 1 with pics. Pretty much what it says on the tin.
Author’s Note: This was written for the 2018 NCIS Reverse Big Bang with the first art created by Banbury. Part of the plot was also inspired by the “Tony's Boyfriends - You Choose” Challenge by rose_malmaison. It isn’t exactly what the challenge was and I used some pics that weren’t included there but it was the jumping off point. So, thanks to banbury for the art inspiration, rose_malmaison for the original plot bunny inspiration, and 2bloodhounds for the beta.
Okay, so you’re all here to bear witness to the payment of the bet I lost. Due to my failure, I was challenged to tell part of my life story in a current-ish pop culture manner. Meaning no film noir or Hitchcock. So, fine. Here’s my answer.
How I ‘met’ your father is my take, except, that would be very short, maybe, incredibly angsty, definitely, and very after school special assuredly. Boy meets boy at military school, older boy mentors younger boy, boys fall in love and date secretly, older boy chooses to enter the military so he can fly real planes where homosexuality is illegal and dumps younger boy before older boy graduates, younger boy is devastated and does many stupid things including get seduced by one of his teachers who leaves him when she is paid off by the younger boy's father. The end.
So, my twist, my first twist - pop culture genre expect the unexpected - is it will be more of a story of how I reconciled and ended up with your father. And thus leading to the existence of this family unit of ours.
As I discovered myself after high school I found that I didn’t really care about the gender of my partner but being at a military school and then a college jock in a frat and then the police academy followed by several different police precincts and finally dragged to NCIS by Leroy Jethro Gibbs, well suffice it to say I was quite deep in the closet in public, at work. It was dangerous then and now to be in law enforcement or around the military culture and be gay or even suspected to be not completely straight. Keep that in mind, would you, and don’t judge me?
My next twist - hah, you wanted pop culture - I will be telling the story in a popular fan fiction format called 5 plus 1. So the title of our little epic here becomes very long and silly but then, so am I. Behold:
How I ‘Met’ Your Father
Five Times Tony’s Ex-Boyfriends Showing Up In His Life At NCIS Was Cumulatively A Very Bad, Awful, Horrible, Painful Thing
Plus One Time When It Was Perfect
Tony sighed, it had been a long case and Vivian was being particularly acerbic these days. Sometimes he really wished she never transferred from the FBI but she was a good agent. She just made things difficult with Gibbs. And Ducky had been very attentive this past week. The older man wasn’t getting the point that she didn’t want to go out with him and was chasing her with all of his Scottish charm on full display. It was making her whiny in the bullpen and stiff in the field if they had bodies.
And this week there had been eight bodies of Marines. All in dropped dead in different locations at different times. They had thought they might have a serial killer or spree killer on their hands but it all turned out to be a tragic accident. The men were in the same unit and had been unknowingly exposed to a bacteria from a toxic mold on assignment a few months before. They had been chasing tangos into underground tunnels that were never used, so no one knew to take biological decon treatment about the mold issue.
It had grown within their bodies and finally reached lethal levels over the course of the past ten days in each man. It presented as poisoning but Ducky’s and Abby’s in depth analysis and searches on obscure medical facts had found the truth. They lost eight men but the true answer was found in time to get the final five into treatment. Two of them were in medically induced comas and the others were feeling the pain but they had survived.
Ironically, and fittingly, over the last three weeks five of the tangos they had been chasing who had gotten away were found dead of apparent poisonings. Guess karma can be a bitch.
Now it was Tony’s job to meet the next of kin of one of the men who had died to explain what he could of events. The man, also a Marine, had been on special assignment and had only discovered his brother’s death a few hours before.
Tony was sighing because he knew the man. They went to military school together. And they had dated - read hooked up - for a couple of months over the summer after Tony’s junior year. There hadn’t really been feelings there for either of them, Mason was a horn dog and Tony was rebounding from a long term relationship that had ended in losing the boy he loved to the Air Force. They weren’t really safe - in many definitions of the word - almost getting caught several times but when senior year began again and the majority of the school returned from their summer breaks - which Tony never went on and which Mason did but he lived a few miles from campus so it didn’t matter - they agreed to stop and move on with no hard feelings.
Now Mason was a Force Recon Marine and his baby brother was dead from a freak medical accident that wasn’t caught in time. It sucked hard. Mason had always been really close to his family. He was the oldest of six boys, all of whom had entered public service in one way or another - one cop, one firefighter, three Marines, and one Navy SEAL. And the one who was in Ducky’s morgue was the youngest of the bunch.
Tony walked into the conference room, closing the door behind him and Mason rose to his feet. “Lieutenant Velez, I’m Special Agent Tony DiNozzo. I’m very sorry for your loss.”
As the lieutenant nodded and narrowed his eyes, the broken door latch released and Tony went to close the door again. “Sorry. But … Tony DiNozzo? Did you go to Rhode Island Military Academy, sir?”
“Yeah. Good to see you Mason, didn’t want to impose on an old - friendship under these circumstances. It’s good to see you.”
“Yeah, I get it. I thought you were going to do sports or something. Weird transition to federal agent.”
“Blew out my knee senior year, went to the police academy after I graduated and healed up. Joined NCIS about a year ago.” Tony approached the table.
Mason nodded. “Small world. How - what happened to Pete? Mom said it was poison?”
Tony shook his head. “It looked that way at first but it turned out to be an accidental natural death. He was unknowingly exposed to bacteria on toxic mold. He never knew.”
“On a mission?”
“Yes. Several weeks ago. His entire unit was exposed.”
Mason walked across the room and began breathing heavily. “He was just a kid. He wanted to follow my footsteps, ya know? And if he’d been killed in action I think I could understand it, accept it. But this? I - he was - God, Tony this is so fucked up. I don’t know how to - God. Petey…”
Mason sank to his knees and his body shook with sobs. Tony walked over to lend assistance and Mason reached out and latched onto his leg, shuddering. Tony knelt down and put his hand on the other man’s back and just waited for him to work through his pain for a while. It wasn’t the first notification he’d done and he was sure it wouldn’t be the last. Everyone was different in their reactions. This was extreme but Mason had always been a very emotional guy. He’d get through this and work through it with the help of his family and friends. But it would take time.
Tony sipped at his whiskey as he waited at a small table near the bar for Robert to return. He had gotten a call from his husband and needed to take it. Tony didn’t mind. Though he had once been falling for Robert, that had been many years before. Bumping into him when he had been checking on a few alibis in the latest case he and Gibbs were working on had been a surprise. Tony had forgotten that he taught at Georgetown.
Tony had met Robert in his freshman year of college. Robert had taught English 101 and Tony had been in his class. Though he had been attracted to the young associate professor, Tony was too aware of the ethics of sleeping with someone who would grade you - previous history with Wendy notwithstanding. He had no desire to get himself or Professor Grant in trouble or even show the appearance of impropriety. But once Tony was in English 102 with Professor Tomlinson in his second semester, Tony grabbed the bull by the proverbial horns and asked the older man out.
Robert had agreed and they dated through most of the semester. They didn’t hide their relationship but they didn’t flaunt it either. Then, before it could really go anywhere, Robert got an offer for a full professorship, a position that could lead to tenure after a few years. Unfortunately, the position had been at Georgetown which was nowhere near Ohio State University. They mutually agreed to end their relationship and after the semester, Robert left for DC.
Tony wasn’t heartbroken, he had been starting to develop deeper feelings but had been cautious due to his history. But still, it wasn’t good for him, to have yet another lover leave him for a better career, as John had, as he was under the impression that Wendy had. It made him more wary of relationships lasting but at heart Tony was a romantic and always hoped to meet his true love.
Running into Robert had been nice. Tony had no hard feelings and grabbing a drink to catch up was a good thing in his mind. Plus, it was another link in the DiNozzo Network. Tony knew people all over and they were available should he need information or various other things depending on who they were.
Robert was married, emotionally if not legally, and his husband was a law clerk at a DC firm. Robert had invited Tony to meet him this weekend and Tony was looking forward to meeting the man who could make Robert smile like that, something Tony had never really been able to do.
Tony struggled to get his arms up to the zipper on the body bag as he felt and heard the gurney he was on get pushed for the back of the FBI van onto the Beltway. He heard tires screeching and horns blaring and the crunch of metal as the body bag fell from the gurney and rolled across the highway. He braced for the impact he hoped wouldn’t come and continued to try to get out of the restrictive bag.
The issue being, of course, that body bags weren’t designed to be opened from the inside. Maybe as a way to try to help during the zombie apocalypse. But in this situation, it could be deadly for Tony thanks to the callousness of Agent Fornell and the nastiness of the prank of calling Tony’s phone by Gibbs.
The bag came to a stop and after a few minutes of struggle, the bag began to unzip, though not through Tony’s actions. He looked up in the dim light of the highway and recognized his rescuer. It was Padraig Webb, the owner of Webb’s Heating and Cooling.
Tony had met Paddy shortly after Wendy left him at the altar. The apartment he had moved into wasn’t high end, it was actually kind of a dump but it was all he could afford at the time having spent so much on the house he and Wendy had bought, only for her to insist that they sell it immediately. He lost money on the sale and he hadn’t had time to build his savings back up yet. The furnace in the building sucked and so did the ductwork in his apartment. Paddy came to fix it because he was local and cheap, so the landlord used him for all of his buildings.
Tony was in a bad place - again. Thanks to Wendy’s callousness, and the recently discovered betrayal by one of his best friends - and police partner - Danny in Baltimore, Tony had been ripe for being treated well, at all. And when Gibbs had recruited him to NCIS, and told him he was good and Gibbs wasn’t willing to waste his potential, Tony had fallen for the older man. Problem being, number one - Gibbs was in the middle of a nasty divorce, and number two - Gibbs never gave any indication that he was other than straighter than straight, at least not as far as Tony was concerned.
But when Padraig appeared, he physically resembled Gibbs a good bit and was kind and funny and complimented Tony and asked him out. They had dated for a short while but they didn’t really have much in common and the mutually broke it off several months before. And now the older man was standing on the highway looking down at Tony in a partially unzipped body bag. They were both almost equally confused.
“Tony? What the hell?”
Tony tried to sit up and with the help of Padraig, finished unzipping his prison. “Long story that I can’t fully talk about but thanks. How are you here?”
Padraig frowned. “I was on my way home when this thing comes flying out of the back of a van. The van had stopped short for a minute and then started moving again and merged onto the highway when the doors opened and this thing - you, I guess, fell out, or was pushed? The car in front of me swerved but the bottom part of the thing went one way -“
Tony interrupted. “The bag I was in was on a gurney.”
Padraig nodded. “Okay. The gurney went one way and you and your bag went the other and the car’s swerve took it right into the path of the gurney. I swerved to miss the car and then again to miss your bag. I checked on the driver of the other car and he’s shaken but the car is basically totaled. After it hit the gurney, it smashed into the lane barrier and the gurney broke through the windshield. Luckily on the passenger’s side or the driver might be dead.”
Tony stood up and winced. He had pulled or wrenched something or maybe just the bruises from bouncing across the Beltway. He looked around, wondering where Agent Axelrod was. Gibbs had said during his prank call that he was following behind. The FBI van was gone, leaving the carnage in its wake. Then Tony realized the problem. Agent Axelrod had been following the van. And when the FBI had tossed him onto the highway, Agent Axelrod had been hit by the gurney. His was the car in front of Padraig’s.
Tony limped over to him. “Hey. So, this is a clusterfuck.”
Axelrod nodded. “Yeah. I have to stay with the car but I know it’s urgent that you get to the apartment to process it. I’ll give the cops your contact info but -“
Tony nodded. “Uh huh. I’ve got no ride.”
Padraig spoke up. “If your friend will give the police my info, I can give you a lift where you need to be.”
“Where have my manners gone?” Tony shook his head and gestured at the two men. “Agent Axelrod this is an old friend of mine, Padraig Webb. He nearly hit me in the body bag. Padraig, this is Agent Axelrod, he works at NCIS.”
Axelrod opened his mouth, waited a moment, then sighed and closed it. After a visible deep breath, he spoke, “Pleased to meet you, Mr Webb. Excellent avoidance skills, defensive driving training?”
Paddy shook his head. “Nope. Just lucky.”
“Okay, well, Agent DiNozzo really, really needs to get where he was going. It’s actually literally a matter of national security. So, I’ll get gear out of the trunk and if you could drop him off, that would be wonderful.”
“Sure thing. Wish I understood what was going on but maybe someday, huh.”
Tony and Axelrod shared a look and Tony smiled with a grimace. “Probably not. But you never know.”
Tony raised a hand and waved a goodbye as he climbed out of Stuart's car in the parking lot at the Navy Yard. He was running late and though he had called Gibbs to let him know, Tony knew he would pay for it anyway. At the very least Gibbs would deliver an epic head slap. Tony was really getting tired of this recent habit of his boss. He had told Gibbs when he hired him that the head slap thing was a hard no for him. And for nearly two years Gibbs had respected that. Until Kate came along. Then suddenly his partner, his mentor, bastard and hardass though he had always been, was suddenly slapping him again and throwing the idea of chain of command out the window.
Several weeks ago, Tony had bit the bullet and talked to Gibbs about it. It had been after the BFF bombing when Gibbs had not only missed the back of his head and hit above his ear but also done it in public, in the lobby of a government contractor rather than in the bullpen or elevator of NCIS headquarters. It had been over the line in so many ways and Tony had tried to speak calmly and rationally to the man he had thought was his friend and who respected him only to be shot down. Hard.
Gibbs claimed that he ran his team his way and if Tony didn’t like it he was welcome to leave. When Tony pointed out the recent changes in Gibbs’ behavior, Gibbs had gotten defensive and even nastier with his comments. Tony was seriously considering moving on once again. He had thought he had found a home here, a place to belong and do good work, but lately things had changed too much.
And now he was late to work because his car had broken down and he was staying over an hour away with an old flame because the heat and power in his apartment still wasn’t fixed. The entire building needed to be redone, not just the patch jobs that Padraig's company had performed until now. A tenant had reported things to L&I and the landlord had been hit hard with several major violations and he was taking it out on the whole building. The repairs and replacing were originally supposed to be done over a week ago but the latest estimate was another two weeks or more. And the bastard landlord was still charging everyone the regular rent rate unless they completely emptied their apartments during the construction.
Tony couldn't afford his rent and a motel for months, too. Nor did he have time for a serious new apartment hunt. And none of his friends in town were in a position to offer him long term sofa occupation. And Gibbs and Ducky had both dismissed the idea of him staying in their extra rooms. And though he hadn’t planned to even ask her, Kate had taken an amnesiac who turned out to be a murderer home with her so she didn’t have an available room. And Abby’s apartment was too small, plus the coffin just assured Tony vampire nightmares.
In the end, just before the bombing carried out by Kate’s houseguest that took out part of BFF and the woman and her former lover who had tried to have her killed, not to mention Tony, Gibbs and Kate who all happened to be feet away, Tony had reached out to Stuart Casey. Tony and Stuart had met when Tony left Philly and joined the Baltimore PD. They were neighbors. They hit it off right away and Tony had thought it might go somewhere but in the end, Stuart realized he had a serious issue with Tony’s job. He didn’t ask Tony to quit or whine about it or anything like he knew several of his colleagues got from their significant others. But Stuart told him that he just couldn’t handle the stress and worry about Tony’s safety. Tony had understood and they had parted ways, though they remained friends and kept in touch.
After Tony had moved to DC, they tried to get together for drinks or a ballgame at least once every few months. Plus they emailed and texted regularly. So, Stuart had been the best choice available with his housing issues, even though he lived just outside Baltimore now and it was an hour’s commute on a good traffic day.
Tony strolled into the bullpen and to his desk to a growled, “You’re late, DiNozzo!”
Tony shot a wry smile at his boss, who already knew he would be and why but still acted in front of the female probie like Tony was an irresponsible idiot who couldn’t tell time. “Sorry, boss. Car broke down.”
Kate decided to chime in, “Couldn’t find your way out of bed in time to get the bus, Tony?”
“If I had waited for a bus from where I was, Kate, I wouldn’t be here yet.”
“Where were you? You know brothels are illegal, right?”
Tony grit his teeth at the desire to really let loose on the bitch he worked with. “My apartment is still out of commission Kate and I’ve been staying with a friend who lives near Baltimore.”
“And they’re too hot to leave on time?”
“No, Kate. But when I tried to start my car it was totally dead and I had to wait for my friend to get up and get ready to give me a ride. He doesn’t normally go in until near one in the afternoon.”
“Suuure, Tony. If you say so.”
Tony opened his front door to the knock. His eyebrows raised when he saw standing there the detective who had been his mentor in Peoria when he was just out of the police academy, Shane Kowalski. The older man had been a snarky, cynical detective in the general crimes division but he’d taken the young Tony under his wing and taught him how to be a good cop.
Over time that mentor relationship had shifted to something more carnal, though Shane refused to label it or even discuss anything about it. Tony had heard that Shane had left the PD after the huge corruption case that had been launched shortly after Tony had gone to Philadelphia. Tony figured the older man had been too disillusioned to stay, finding out that over 30 percent of your colleagues were not just on the take or selling drugs on the side or helping a friend with a ticket, but rigging evidence to send innocent people to jail and actually making people disappear, in accidents or staged shootouts, including a couple of cops who tried to bring things up with Internal Affairs. Over eighty percent of the IAD were dirty.
Tony had seen what was happening but after two cops he knew were shot by perps within hours of going to IA, he arranged his transfer and left the evidence he had behind with someone he hoped would be able to figure things out. A few months later it had worked and the corruption was exposed and the perpetrators charged and convicted.
“Shane? What in the world are you doing here? I assume you’re looking for me? Why? And how’d you find me for that matter? Are you alright?”
The older man nodded. “Can I come in, kid?”
Tony opened the door fully and stepped out of the way. “So not a kid anymore, Shane.”
“Still younger than me. Still a dumbass, too.” Shane entered the apartment and Tony closed and locked the door.
The two men made their way to the sofa and Tony gestured for the other man to begin. “So, I left Peoria after the purge.”
Tony nodded. “I heard.”
Shane waved his hand. “I wasn’t part of it. I mean I had seen some not so kosher stuff but it was piddling, ya know. Letting someone slide on a minor charge to get info or fixing a ticket. Stuff like that. Normal graft. I had no idea about the real shit.”
Tony smiled. “I never thought you did.”
Shane grimaced, “Good. Did the timing of your transfer have something to do with it?”
“Sort of. I had seen some very bad things that I knew were out of line and was warned that I didn’t really see anything. And when Greenfield and Sans were killed and I knew they had been suspicious of some stuff, too, I left. Left behind enough evidence with someone I trusted to appease my conscience.”
Shane nodded slowly, “Wondered if some of that stuff that came out was from you. Timing was right. Didn’t ask, didn’t want to paint a target on ya.”
“Thanks. Can’t imagine that has anything to do with why you’re here, not this many years later.”
“No. Just wanted to clear it up, first. When I left, I had an offer from the FBI. Been an agent since then, recently transferred to DC. And after what just went down, I had to come and warn ya.”
Tony’s brows furrowed. “What? Just because NCIS, specifically Gibbs, got into a pissing match about the Marine recruiter sniper case? I really have no control over him whatsoever. None. Trust me.”
Shane shook his head. “Got nothing to do with Gibbs. I just - I thought you were smart enough not to be out as a cop. And yeah, maybe you are a Fed but you’re still a cop. They call ya Navy cops. So, ya know I don’t care who ya do, I ain’t a hypocrite. But to be out not only in your team but enough so over open comms with another agency? Dumbass.”
Tony shook his head. “I am not out at NCIS. Not to my team, not to anyone there. Never have been. They all think I’m a totally straight skirt chasing ladies man.”
“I was listening to the comms, Tony. Joking about you being in the Village People, and you talking about dating your music teacher in high school?”
“Okay, wait. First of all, I did look like one of the Village People in that outfit so it was legitimate teasing. Second of all, I did date my high school music teacher and later met up with and nearly married her . The fiancée who left me at the altar over two years ago, Wendy, taught some music classes at my high school, including piano.”
“Not gonna fly kid. Your tech said they were a guy. And that ain’t all that was being said either. They don’t have your best interests at heart. I came to warn ya. You didn’t wonder why the FBI agents who backed you up when you chased the killer weren’t there until after you shot him? I heard them talking, they think you’re gay. They were slow on purpose. I can’t prove it but that is what is going around, Tony. Watch your back. Your team - it feels like they might have set you up. And don’t count on FBI agents. Some would be fine but some - aren’t. I thought you should know. Be careful. And maybe it’s time for ya to move on.”
“That’s crazy, Shane. I - no, they - we tease one another. They didn’t - that isn’t what it was. I trust them.”
“I hope you’re right, kid. I don’t want to attend your funeral.”
Agent Manny Lunsford walked down the hall next to Agent Ric Balboa. As they passed the conference room they heard noises of distress and glanced in the ajar door to see if assistance was needed. Lunsford saw Gibbs’ new partner huddled against a Marine on the floor. The Marine was moaning and rocking back and forth. Balboa carefully eased the door closed and kept walking.
Lunsford caught up to the other agent and shook his head. “I knew there was something off about that cop recruit of Gibbs’.”
Balboa turned and stared at Lunsford. “You’ve got a nasty mind, Lunsford. Gibbs’ team just closed a case with eight bodies. DiNozzo was doing the notifications and explanations to the family. I can tell you, news like that - people’s emotions can run the gamut. I’ve had people who you’d think would get hysterical and have a fit be totally stoic and ice cold and others who you’d think would be tough and emotionless end up having a complete meltdown. I was the one who escorted that Marine up here from Security earlier. He just got back from a classified mission and his chest is full of some serious hardware, heavy combat asset, for sure. Just out of a war zone and told that your baby brother died in a freak medical accident and others were saved but not him? Yeah, I can see him losing it. What would you do, Lunsford? Just stand there and sneer? DiNozzo is helping him, grounding him. Don’t be more of an idiot than you can help.”
Lunsford frowned and looked away. He still didn’t think it looked right. And he knew something about that damn cop was off. Before Gibbs hired him, the old man had been working solo undercover for quite a while. And even before that, he never got given big cases. Some of his cases might have turned out big after a small start but nothing big profile from the get go. Then that cop shows up and within months Morrow makes them the premier MCRT and keeps giving them provides and TADs. No, it wasn’t right.
Manny Lunsford was out for a drink with his brother-in-law after a nasty week. He was on his third gin and saw his brother in-law talking to someone at the bar. He watched the other man walk away with a smile and take a seat with a drink at a table with a familiar man. Blinking, Lunsford finally identified him as that ass DiNozzo. He and Gibbs were working as a two man team again and still getting the big cases. It was infuriating.
Lunsford’s brother-in-law placed their next rounds on the table and followed Lunsford’s gaze. “Oh, that’s Professor Tanner. Marissa had him for three different classes in the last year. She made a point of introducing us. For a bit, I was worried, she was so insistent. Thought maybe she was having more than a student relationship, ya know? But turns out he’s gay. Like not limp wrist and prancing or nothing but he lives with a guy that he calls his husband. Obviously ain’t really, no priest is gonna marry a coupla queers, but regardless, he’s not putting the moves on my little girl. But she wanted me to meet him because he just bought a new house and it needed lots of work and my little girl wanted to throw some work my way. Sweet, isn’t she?”
The other guy was gay? And DiNozzo was out having drinks with him. Wasn’t solid evidence, the other guy was “married”. But everyone knew the gays didn’t understand what being faithful was. They all slept around. So… maybe.
Lunsford was in the break room having a coffee while he waited for results on a BOLO. He was stuck running down an AWOL sailor, his sixth in a row. As he savored the caffeine hit, he heard a couple of junior agents come in, talking.
“So, Yeah, when I first saw the guy I thought it was Agent Gibbs. Hey, it was dark, okay? Plus all the flashing lights. It wasn’t easy to make things out. But there was a definite resemblance. It was a bit uncanny. But it turns out he’s the guy who Tony uses to do his pipes. So he gave Tony a ride and I wasn’t reamed out by Gibbs for not doing what I was supposed to be doing. Win all around.”
The agents took their coffees and left the building and Lunsford pondered. Guy who looks like Gibbs, does DiNozzo’s pipes, in a place that was dark with flashing lights. That Axelrod kid has been running down drug mules and was undercover at a few queer bars two days ago. He must have seen the fucking cop there.
As Lunsford walked back to his desk he saw a pretty brunette standing in the bullpen. “Can I help you?”
“Agent Todd, Secret Service. I’m looking for Agent Gibbs or DiNozzo about the case on Air Force One.”
Lunsford stiffened and smiled tightly. “Sorry. I haven’t seen them but maybe someone else can help?”
Axelrod walked up, “I overheard, you’re looking for Agent Gibbs or Agent DiNozzo?”
“Well, DiNozzo is still searching the apartment, he was given a lift there after the incident with the FBI on the Beltway. But Agent Gibbs is down in autopsy. I can escort you, ma’am.”
The two walked away and Lunsford continued to his desk, eyes narrowed. Given a lift, problem on the Beltway at night. Damn.
Lunsford was at his desk and watched DiNozzo get off the elevator, over an hour late. He heard Gibbs snap at him and then heard the conversation between him and the latest third on the team, Todd.
She was a real bitch. And she kept making huge mistakes and Gibbs was just letting it go. Probably was the truth that he was sleeping with her. Likely why he hired her. Clive down in Evidence said she resigned from the Secret Service because she was fucking on the job. Very much a casting couch kind of girl. Would explain why she was such a ball buster to any other guy. Had to hide her real agenda and keep Gibbs from getting jealous and giving her the can.
DiNozzo is staying with some guy in Baltimore. And the profiler says he’s late ‘cause he was too busy in bed to get here on time. Profiler would know. ‘Course, she ain’t that great at profiling but she’s gotta have some credentials in it or Morrow’d fire her, no matter if she was on her knees for Gibbs on the regular. So, that means DiNozzo’s shacked up with some guy.
Lunsford sat in his apartment, downing shots of rum. He was beyond pissed off. He’d heard all about the latest clusterfuck by golden boy DiNozzo. He’d been having lunch with a few agents from the FBI that he knew. He was trying to get an in over there to get a job, so he ate with them several times a month and swapped stories.
Today's story that they all were talking about was the one they worked cross jurisdictionally with NCIS, the Marine recruiters getting killed by a sniper. And evidently, Todd and that lab witch outed DiNozzo on open comms. And he confirmed it. Fucking fag. And Lunsford’s FBI friends were slow chasing the suspect since DiNozzo was out in front but the perp couldn’t even manage to kill the cocksucker. Someone had to do something. Let him know his kind wasn’t welcome at NCIS. He was embarrassing the whole agency with the other Federal agencies. And it would show that Gibbs’ gut wasn’t so great since it brought the fag on board. And a hard look would bring to light Gibbs fucking his profiler bitch and maybe Morrow would finally see that Lunsford should be leading the MCRT.
Tony sat on his sofa sipping from a beer. It had been a long week but the case was solved and Tony could relax. They weren’t on call tonight and tomorrow would be a normal day, if they didn’t catch a case.
His musings were interrupted by a knock on his door. Tony placed his bottle on the coffee table and walked to the door, looking through the peephole cautiously. The bottom of his door was lined with a special improvised barrier made from an old bath towel that kept any light or shadows from showing through the crack. Tony knew a cop who had been shot through his door when he went to look through the peephole. The shooter knew he was there because the level of leaked light at the foot of the door in the hallway changed. Since then, Tony had made sure to not let that be a weakness in his own security.
The face that met his eye shocked him. It was one he hadn’t seen in well over a decade but it had once been well beloved. He unlocked the door and swung it open. “John Sheppard.”
John smiled his sheepish grin. “Hey. Long time no see.”
Tony leaned against the door frame. “That’s one way to put it. What are you doing here? And how did you know where I live?”
John shoved his hands in his pockets. “I needed to see you, wanted to, and I know people who can find stuff out for me. The project I work for, some really smart people. It isn’t like you’re hiding or in witness protection or anything, you know, Tony. I stopped by a little over a few weeks ago but your neighbor said you were away.”
Tony nodded. “Yearly trip, or when I can, most years. Spring break with my frat brothers. Panama City this year. It was great, relaxing and surprisingly informative.”
“Cool. Not sure what that means but it’s always good to enjoy a relaxing vacation.” John shifted and glanced around the hallway. “Look, can I come in?”
Tony gazed at him calmly. “You’ve piqued my curiosity. Come on in.”
Tony relocked the door behind them and gestured to the sofa. “Can I get you something to drink?”
John sat on the sofa and looked at the bottle on the table. “I’ll have a beer if that’s alright.”
When Tony returned with two unopened bottles he sat sideways on the sofa, the arm at his back, handing one to John and placing the other down on the table before taking a swig from his opened one. “So, elaborate.”
John chuckled in what came off as a bitter manner. “So, I know I was a dick. I could medal in being a dick at the Olympics, if it was a sport. I knew what I wanted from life, part of which was sticking it to my dad, and the only way I could get it was by joining the Air Force. I wanted to fly.”
“Yeah. I’ve heard this all before, John. Except you admitting that what you did to me, how you did it, was a dick move.”
“Right. Well, self awareness and shit. I can admit it. I’ve always known it was a shitty thing to do. Tell you the night before my graduation that I was breaking up with you. And why.”
“Yeah, that wasn’t exactly nice but the shitty part, the real dick move, John, was you doing it right after you finished fucking me. What was it, you wanted one more for the road? Figured you’d be stuck with your hand for a while so you wanted to have the real thing from idiotic, naive me before you flew off?”
“No! It wasn’t like that. I was a dick, yeah, I admit it but not that. I was just turned eighteen, Tony. I wasn’t a manipulative bastard. I loved you. You have to believe that. You were so important to me.”
“Not important enough. You didn’t even want to try to work something out. Keep in touch, take a break during the transition. You just fucked me and chucked me, John. And fucked me up in the process.”
“I’m sorry, Tony. I was a dick, an asshole, an idiot, a fool.”
“And now what - you’re in a twelve step program and this is part of you making amends for your mistakes?”
John shook his head. “No. I went through something recently. Well, I went through a lot of major shit over the past few years but recently I had a - well a revelation, sort of. I can’t really explain. Literally. I’m not allowed to talk about what happened. It’s connected to the project I work for. Really top secret. Tell you and I’ll have to kill you, or someone will, or put you in a dark hole somewhere.” John waved his hand like pushing the babbling words away. “To the point, I’ve missed you. I never stopped loving you and I know I don’t deserve to even have you sit here listening to me try to explain and justify my actions but I love you. I’d like to see you, to date, to try again.”
Tony snorted. “You just waltz back into my life and say you’ve realized you love me and want to get back together. And you can’t tell me why. I haven’t been pining over you for the past two decades, John. I’ve been in plenty of relationships. Nearly got married once. To a woman. I’m not that boy you knew.”
“I don’t expect you to be. And I certainly didn’t assume you’d be celibate your whole life. And I actually did get married at one point. To a woman. I was trying to reconcile with my dad and it was a bad idea all around. I was never home and she wanted me to quit the Air Force or take a desk jockey position in the US. We lasted less than a year and I basically never saw my dad again after I told him. He died a few years ago and Dave made sure to tell me that he never wrote me back into his will. So, I never assumed your life stopped when we broke up, Tony. I’m glad you haven’t been pining over me. But I’d like to get to know who you are now. The man that the boy I loved became. Like - you’re a federal agent, where’d that come from?”
Tony tilted his head to the side. “So, you want to be friends, keep in touch, emails, grab a beer now and then when you’re in town?”
“No. I mean, I’d like to date you. Take you out, dinner, movies, shows, ballgames, hang out at your place or mine, do stuff. And yes, eventually, when you’re comfortable that I’m not just after your ass, sex.”
“And what about the career you chose over me? Being gay and being in the Air Force is still a big no-no, DADT is very much a thing, unless you know something I don’t John. You want me to be your dirty little secret?”
John sighed. “No. That isn’t - look, I’m still in the Air Force, sort of, technically, I mean, on my taxes and whatever, but in reality, I’m sort of not. Kind of. It’s a really long story and I can’t explain the details but just know that for me, my bosses don’t care who I date or fuck, or at least they don’t care about the gender of that person. They care about other stuff, like security clearances but they kind of aren’t allowed to care about the minutiae. I wish I could explain.”
Tony pursed his lips. “Right, kill me or deep dark hole time. Or non-disclosure agreements.”
John nodded. “I’d love it if you did that and could be read in on my project. We actually have a place, a job you’d be perfect for. And my boss, well, my boss’ boss’ boss agrees but isn’t sure you’d want to take it. You could stay with NCIS or come in under another umbrella but look there is a job offer, an incredible one, believe me coming your way but this isn’t in any way contingent on you dating me again. They are two separate issues that are not connected. I’m not the one hiring you. You wouldn’t be working for me just with me if you agreed. So, you can take the job and we can just be friends if that’s what you wanted. Or just work colleagues. Though I’d like more, boyfriends, lovers, significant others, whatever you’d want to call it. And if you did say yes to that, you wouldn’t be my dirty little secret. We’d be open about things.”
“I’m happy at NCIS.”
“Are you? It’s just, I’ve heard some things. About your teammates and your boss. I’m not trying to pressure you. Just think about it. Like I said, the job offer isn’t really coming from me. You’ll get contacted about that separately.”
“Okay. So I’ll table that then. As for your other proposition. I just - I do admit that I do still care about you. But - I just don’t know if I can, John.”
John sat forward. “I know I sprung this on you out of left field so just take what time you need to think it over. Make up your mind. I won’t push but I’ll be around DC for at least a few months. There may be days here or there where I have things to do and places to go out of town but mostly I’ll just be here. Just give me a shot, a chance to not be an asshole, to make up for my teenage idiocy. That’s all.”
Tony nodded. “I’ll think about it. I don’t think I’ll be able to help thinking about it even if I wanted to.”
The next morning Tony was exercising behind his desk. He and John had spent a few hours talking, catching up on their lives - the unclassified portions - after their discussion the night before. And Tony’s thoughts had been accurate. From the moment he woke up this morning he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about John. About what they might become. Of how it could actually work. Of how much he had changed since high school.
Kate and the probie McGee came in and teased him about why he was exercising. Tony very seriously asked why Kate thought it always had to be about a woman. And as the teasing continued, Abby came in and talked about the co-ed he had flirted with the night before. Truthfully, Tony barely even remembered it. He hadn’t been serious at the time and wouldn’t have hit on her at all if Abby hadn’t been there to see. But he had an image to maintain. But it was wearing thin. And obviously, his old frat brother hadn’t told Kate where his nickname actually came from or this discussion would have been highly different. Regardless, Tony was never so happy to hear Gibbs tell them to grab their gear.
Tony left the elevator on his way to his car in the garage near the NCIS building. It had been a hell of a few days. Not only had that dumbass hacker set them up so that Tony nearly shot an idiot kid who was only armed with a paintball gun but then Kate doctored up that photo. She was such a bitch, sometimes. Often. Usually. If anyone saw that and took it seriously, it would be bad. Her photo was just a college drunken photo. The one she faked, which looked really real, which he didn’t think she had the skill to do, was a posed BDSM inspired shot. He really hoped she had not sent it to Gibbs. He just deleted the photo and sent his case report. He had threatened plenty but he would never really show it around. But he’s pretty sure she wasn’t joking. She was exactly the kind of person who would feel perfectly justified ruining his life and career by showing that fake to people.
Tony decided he really needed to wind down and didn’t want to be alone. Over the past several days, when he had downtime, scarce though it was, he had thought about John and his request. He decided that tonight he would give him a chance, meet up and have a drink, dinner and see what happened from there. He pulled out his phone as he approached his car and dialed John’s number which he happened to have memorized.
“Hey. So I’ve been thinking and I need a night out and if you’re free I thought we could grab dinner.”
Tony could almost hear John’s grin through the phone. “Sounds great. Where do you want to meet?”
“I’m just getting to my car at NCIS so somewhere between here and my place would be great. I’m not up for formal or fine dining but not really wanting too casual.”
“Damn, So McDonald’s is out. Oh well. Well there’s a little bistro about three miles from your place, they have live music on weekends.”
“I’ll keep that in mind. Hold on, I need to put my stuff in the car and -“ Tony’s words broke off as he was slammed into from behind. He dropped his phone and felt a heavy weight strike his skull. He groaned loudly.
Another weight hit his arm and it broke. Tony screamed when what could only be a foot slammed down on his knee. He heard a voice, it was fading in and out of his hearing, he couldn’t focus, he made out bits and pieces of the tirade of his attacker. “You fucking fag! Took my place - spreading your disease - pretending - normal - hypnotizing people with the gay - telling FBI - agency look like fags - that photo - computer that witch in her lab - she’s probably really a guy - creepy fuckers - gonna kill you - get my job”
Tony rolled over into a ball as much as he could as the man hit him with something over and over and kicked him. He could hear a tinny voice near his head just saying over and over that help was coming and to hold on and realized it was John on his phone. Tony wasn’t sure he could wait though, the guy was getting more brutal each second. He used his good hand to grab his belt and the hidden knife that had saved his life before. Thank God for Rule 9.
The attacker yanked at his shoulder and rolled him forcefully into his back. Tony blinked up at him in the dim light and recognized him. It was Lunsford, an agent who worked on the same floor as the MCRT. And Tony’s eyes widened when Lunsford pulled out his service weapon.
“Look me in the eye when I put the world free of your abnormality.” Lunsford spit the words literally at Tony.
Tony braved himself knowing help wasn’t going to come in time. As Lunsford gloated for a moment, that fateful Bond villain moment, Tony sat up and swung hard with his knife, connecting just where he meant to, across the arm forcing him to release his gun.
Lunsford yelled in pain and swung the tire iron he held in his other hand. Tony grunted and kicked out with his good leg, causing the other man to stumble and trip over Tony’s body. He fell on the ground and rolled over, trying to swing the tire iron at Tony’s head and Tony brought the knife up again. This time his aim was off, a very bad outcome for Lunsford. The knife missed the swinging arm, Tony’s blurry vision causing him to swing too high. The knife sunk into Lunsford’s jugular and as the enraged, insane man jerked back, Tony kept hold of the knife and it cut Lunsford’s throat deeply on it’s way out. By the time help arrived four minutes later, Lunsford was dead.
And that is how I reconciled with your father. He stayed with me through my recovery and I was offered a job with his project. After a very crazy introduction to wormholes and alien cities and ascended beings, I took the job. They also helped accelerate my healing with their alien gadgets.
At first, I stayed on as an NCIS liaison with the project but after Director Morrow went to Homeland seven months after I was attacked, the new Director pushed to have me brought back. She wanted me to run some shady undercover op, having heard of my skills. When I said no, she threatened to fire me. I quit and expanded my role in the project as Head of Civilian and Military Security, under the umbrella of the SGC.
As for the people at NCIS, well both Kate and Abby got in a lot of trouble for their parts in the whole debacle. As speculated in Lunsford's personal journal, the attack on me triggered an investigation into Gibbs and his team and though the rumors of he and Kate having an affair were false, she was busted back down to probationary agent, sent to the full course at FLETC, and transferred to another office with lots less prestige. She was probably glad of it in the long run all things considered.
Abby was sent through several ethics classes on evidence handling and the entire forensics division was restructured. The lab was no longer Abby’s sole domain and she had lots of new rules to live by.
Morrow was planning to put Gibbs into a new position where he wasn’t in charge of other agents on a team. He had done good work when working solo until I came along, not so good with others. But before he could, tragedy struck.
A few weeks after my attack, McGee was opening some anonymous mail addressed to simply NCIS agent. To this day, we aren’t sure why it was routed to the MCRT but he opened it and the way he opened it, and didn’t follow procedures directly afterward when it released a fine white powder because he thought he knew best how to handle it, thanks to his biomedical degree, assured that the entire floor and seven people were infected by the antibiotic resistant form of pneumonic plague sent by an insane woman with a brain tumor to NCIS. Both McGee and Gibbs were among the dead along with two others. The remaining three were left with permanent medical issues, including scarred lungs and asthma.
I worked some magic. Hannah Lowell, the insane perpetrator was dying and knew it. Even if she lived through a speedy trial, she’d be dead after barely any time in jail. But I made sure that the civil suits by the families of the dead and injured were fast tracked. Before she died, Lowell knew that all of her life’s work was going to Navy cops and their families. It tormented the well known peace activist for the rest of her short life.
Oh, and that new director? I had her shady business investigated. After all working where I was gave me a lot of power and reach. Turns out she too was delusional. Not a tumor but some weird, rare genetic disease. She was quietly retired for medical reasons and new blood from outside the agency was brought in and brought the entire thing into a new era, without the good old boy networking and corruption that had been so prevalent before.
So, that’s the story. The end.
What do you mean, you want to know what caused your father’s epiphany?