Lion Rampart – Chapter Ten

Lions Rampart

Title: Lion Rampart

Author: Ladyholder

Fandom: NCIS, The Sentinel, Barney Miller, Criminal Minds

Relationships: Tony/Gibbs, Blair/Jim, Wojo/Barney

Genre: Oh, So AU and a Mystery

Warnings: Mention of murder, possible torture and I’ll add more as it comes. Expect sex, some rock and roll, the drugs are iffy and you can be certain that there will be low humor.

Notes: Yes, I am aware of what happened in the show BM. Tough. I wanted a good set of really tough characters to be decent role models for a young Tony DiNozzo and they fit. If this wigs you out, try the ‘back’ button. Both you and I will be happier.

Beta: No Beta

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

The nap had been sorely needed, Tony decided when he woke up forty-five minutes after he had put his Sentinel back together. While short, it had been enough to cover everything he knew they required to get back on an even keel.

Stretching out slightly, the Guide pushed his own senses out and scanned the whole of NCIS without shame. There was the expected mellowing from their Bonding, but under that was a curious feeling threading through the building. Gibbs hadn’t had to use the Bonding suite before and people were wondering why.

Burley was out of the building and Abby, from what he could tell, was still gone. Tony needed to let her know she could come back. Turning his head, he saw that Jethro was sleeping peaceably beside him. “I’m going to get up now, keep sleeping.”

Jethro snorted softly in his sleep and rolled over to take over his pillow when Tony got up. Walking towards the bathroom, he scooped up the used washcloth and dropped it into the hamper. The towels they had used got dropped in the same place and the Guide looked the small room over.

Despite their rush to get into the shower and get clean, the room wasn’t trashed. Tidying it only took a few moments. Tony made a mental note to bring in a new bottle of the herbal bleach to clean the surfaces after he tested the bottle they had stored. It was okay for a brief clean, but not enough to get things to an acceptable level. Flipping up the UV toothbrush sterilizer, he grabbed his and scooped out a dab of tooth paste. Lunch, while good, wasn’t something he wanted to continue to taste.

Humming to himself as he kept a mental eye on the building, Tony made a list of chores they had to do. The sheets on the bed needed to be washed and the alternate set they had stored needed to be gotten out. Maybe the blanket too. He would need to check to see if they had gotten it dirty. The vials of sweet almond oil needed to be date checked and the one he had opened needed to be used or disposed of. The decision on that was easy. They could take it home and would likely use it in days.

Thankfully, Jethro wasn’t allergic to almonds, since the oil was widely available and cheap. Tony didn’t feel guilty at all about dumping the small vials of oil once they were opened, if they weren’t going to use them later the same day. One of his Sentinel’s previous Conservators had not been so proactive and now Jethro had a slight skin reaction to jojoba oil. That ‘Conservator’ was no longer working for his Pride and Tony had made certain to blacklist her everywhere.

The case was niggling at his thoughts and he tried to shove it aside for the moment. Jethro needed his attention right then. Clearing his mind of his agitation he smoothed out his emotions and the restless edge he had felt from his Sentinel evened out.

All the clean up that he could do was quickly done and Tony yawned. Checking the digital clock built into the lintel over the door, he saw they had three hours left at work. Sighing deeply he walked into the bedroom to wake Jethro up.

“I’m awake.”

“I’m surprised. Do you need more sleep?” Tony asked softly as he sat down on the bed. Running a hand through his Sentinel ’s hair, he extended his senses to wrap around the man before him. His partner was calm and centered, all traces of discomfort gone.

“No, I’m good. Abby will make sure Burley doesn’t come back,” Jethro admitted.

“So I take it there is more to the Burley story than I want to know? And we should be glad that he won’t be coming back?” he asked.

Jethro nodded, face pulled into a slightly upset look. “Burley was my Probie for six months. He was doing his best to angle his way into my bed after the first month and it got more and more overt every day thereafter. I finally transferred him out when he tried to come into my house. Kelly stopped him that time.”

“Do I need to explain things to him?” Tony asked carefully. He could feel his temper light and didn’t even bother to try and disguise it.

“I doubt it,” Jethro sighed. “I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t notice at first. Some of it I put together after the whole mess. The rest of it, I noticed too late to break the behavior. When I did, I started the process to get him transferred. That was three years ago.”

“Yeah, no. Any sexual harassment stops now,” Tony declared. “Come on, we need to figure out what killed our victim, who did it and how I’m going to deal with Romeo.”

Chuckling ruefully, Jethro got up. “Shower with me?”

“I would love to,” Tony agreed. After all, he had some plotting to do.

“Tony, Tony! I got your answer!” Abby bounced in front of him in excitement.

“You got the information on the scent packs?” Tony pounced on the possibility.

“I do. The packs are used as a training aide for Sentinel s. The manufacture states that it mimics blood almost exactly. Also, Pacci and Reynolds went back to the scene and found the used packs in the vents. Right where you thought they would be,” the Goth reported. “They’ve been dusted for fingerprints and I’m running them now.”

“And the ‘blood’ in the pack?” Tony asked her.

“Totally synthetic. When I contacted the maker, they said they ran the formula past several hundred Sentinel’s and most of them couldn’t tell. The rep did say that a very few of their test subjects could smell the artificial notes, “Abby reported.

“Which could be why Gibbs smelled plastic at the scene,” the Guide mussed.

“Do you have a fresh one?” Gibbs’ voice came from behind them.

The Guide and Forensics tech both jumped in surprise. “Oh, my God, Gibbs! Why do you do this to me?” Abby demanded.

The Sentinel just grinned and looked at her pointedly. “I ordered a full set,” she admitted with a smile. “They should be here tomorrow. I had them overnighted.”

“Once they get here, we can experiment,” Gibbs agreed.

“Right.” Abby carefully reached out and touched the Sentinel  on his arm. “Burley won’t be coming back, Gibbs. He’s been informed that he is not to come to the D.C. office ever again. Any business he needs to conduct with anyone here can be done out of the Norfolk office.”

“I want him as far away from my Sentinel as possible. Maybe the West coast? Too bad there are no NCIS posts out of Antarctica,” Tony muttered, voice full of frustration.

“We can do that, Guide DiNozzo,” Director Morrow commented as he walked down the stairs. “Remember, I want you to be comfortable working here, and if that means I need to move an agent, that’s fine.”

Tony tipped his head to the side, considering his options. He had only the most minimal exposure to Burley and how he treated his Sentinel. But what he knew about his behavior was not flattening for the other agent. Plus Abby didn’t like him. “Please move him,” the Guide requested.

Morrow nodded. “I think he will do well on Diego Garcia. They have been asking for an Agent Afloat for the last six months.”

Rocking back on his heels, the Guide racked his brains, trying to remember where that posting was. Giving up, he looked at his partner for enlightenment. “It’s a very small speck of land in the Indian Ocean. The only thing to do out there is drink.”

Abby snickered slightly. “That and bet on what the land crabs will do next.”

“Good.” He said shortly. The level of happiness the Guide felt over the reassignment of the other agent wasn’t kind, but Tony didn’t care. Burley had caused his Sentinel distress. All bets were off. His Sentinel was looking at him in concern and Tony shrugged. Gibbs was just going to have to accept that this was one of the times his Guide was going to be very militant in his efforts to protect him. And absolutely unwilling to compromise.

“Leaving aside the issue of Agent Burley, what do we have on your latest case?” Marrow asked.

“Right now, we are putting together the info on the scene where we found our victim. There was a lot of blood and it smelled far fresher than it should have, given when he had been dumped. We found the reason behind that and will be testing it tomorrow when it arrives,” Gibbs reported.

“Ducky has determined that despite some truly horrific efforts, the victim died from a stroke, not his various wounds. The motive behind the death is still unknown and the actual murder scene hasn’t been found yet. I’ve alerted every agency I can get a hold of in the surrounding area. I also took the time to send out a Pride alert for all Sentinel s and Guides to be on the lookout for any place that might match our victim and blood spatter,” Tony added his part.

Gibbs grimaced and then nodded. “Even with plastic, chances are good the scene will smell like an abattoir to a Sentinel. We need the original site.”

Morrow nodded in understanding. “Do we have any idea on motive?”

Tony shook his head in denial. “Our victim is clean. That was something Burley confirmed to us when he came by. The man had no enemies on board ship, he lived within his means and from the gossip was well thought of by his shipmates.”

“So a dead end?” the Director asked with a raised brow.

“For the moment. We might have more if we can get the scene of the actual murder,” Gibbs allowed.

“Understood. Well, I will let you get back to it.” Morrow sighed and headed back up the stairs. “I’ll get the transfer process started, Guide DiNozzo.”

“Thank you, sir!” Tony called out. He was keeping an eye on his partner and nodded at the wave of relief that passed through the Sentinel. Burley was an ass.

“Thank you.”

The burst of suppressed excitement exploding in the bullpen caused the Guides head to snap up to stare. Pacci was a very nice, even-tempered man, but he was currently looking as if he wanted to hunt something. Whatever was stirring the other Agents emotions was apparently satisfying as well because that emotion was starting to rise up as well.

Pacci finished writing his notes on a pad and waved it at Tony as he closed down his phone call. The Guide quickly moved to grab the paper and started reading. With each line he read, the urge to hunt was rising within him.

A level three Sentinel in West Virginia had followed the scents of blood and decomp and found a room that might be their abattoir. From his reports, the room stank of fear and death, overlaid with the stench of blood. The Sentinel had investigated the scene carefully and at his first glance inside the structure, knew he was looking at the aftermath of a crime. When he reported the mass to the authorities, they had passed it up to NCIS. Every instinct in Tony told him that the discovery was legit. “Jethro, we have something.”

The surge of satisfaction that surged down their Bond was gratifying. Tony grabbed his backpack and gun and clipped it on as he swung the strap over his shoulder. The door to the stairs opened with a bang and his Sentinel headed towards his desk. Gibbs took only moments to gear up and then they were both headed down to the car.

“Official vehicle or official vehicle?” Tony asked.

“One would think you don’t want me driving your car,” his Sentinel observed cheerfully.

“Yeah, no driving of my car for any type of official business. You drive like a lunatic,” Tony returned with an easy smile. “I don’t care if you break a government vehicle. They are easily replaced, soulless Matchbox cars. My car is a classic.”

“Classic it may be, but it is still a car,” Gibbs teased. Tony knew he was from the loving amusement his Sentinel was projecting.

“Yeah, yeah,” Tony fussed right back. “Just try to remember that you can’t shove people out of your way with the power of your mind alone.”

Gibbs quickly inspected the car they had been assigned by the auto pool. From the relaxed expression on his Sentinel’s face as he got in, Tony was sure everything was fine. The Guide made certain to buckle up as he settled into his seat though.

As soon as he relaxed into his seat, the car was thrown in gear and they were off. Tony braced his legs in the passenger well and proceeded to enjoy the ride. The latest and greatest GPS unit the agency had was installed in their car and the Guide loaded their destination in it. As much as he hated the little electronic map unit, it was incredibly useful when they traveled out of their normal areas.

The talk between them started out about the case, but with no new clues, all they had was speculation. Instead, the conversation between them moved to some of the other events going on in their lives.

“So Kelly is enjoying her classes at the Center. We’ve had a number of the Senior Guides in the Pride who have been teaching classes, but we need to get a dedicated member to take over the beginning lessons.” Tony reported. “Rossi has been there a lot and he’s bringing his new coworker, a Dr. Sponsor Reid with him. He’s latent, but very in tune with those around him. Rossi wants him to have a firm grounding in the principles of being a Guide, no matter his status.”

Gibbs hummed softly as he wove in and out of traffic, eyes firmly on the road. “So Rossi is keeping track of the Guides and potentials at the FBI?”

“Yeah. Strauss, while capable as an administrator, sucks as a Guide,” Tony agreed. “She’s too interested in politics, not being what a Sentinel needs.”

“I know a number of our Pride are over there, but I haven’t managed to touch base with all of them,” Gibbs admitted.

“I think that after this case is finished, we need to call a Pride wide meeting and just get to know everyone,” Tony suggested. They had avoided calling for the Pride get together because of several reasons. Not the least of which had been the fact that they were busy.

“Agreed. Should I start having Gatherings again?” Gibbs asked.

“Once we get things smoothed out. I know a lot of Pairs meet at a Pride’s Gathering, but I wanted to wait until I at least had the Conservators overhauled. They are far too useful in the mass insanity of a Pride Gather to pass up having them there. I’ve made it very clear to our Conservators know what is appropriate before I let any of them back around any of the vulnerable unbonded Guides or Sentinel s. And that includes Kelly,” Tony admitted.

“Good. I wasn’t happy with the ones that were assigned to me. They were far more interested in what I could do for them, and not what they should have been doing for me. And you know how that is still echoing down now,” The Sentinel s voice was grim. Tony couldn’t blame him. Their daughter was twelve and was far too precious to risk on someone who put themselves first instead of their charge.

Both men were silent for several moments, enjoying each other’s company despite the heavy topics. Tony settled in and opened the Bond he shared with Jethro on his side only, checking the emotional health of his Sentinel. Strong and vibrant, the sense of his partner flowed into his mind on soft feet. Despite his attempt at discretion, he could feel how much affection his Sentinel felt for what he was doing and Tony grinned.

“What are Rossi’s specific needs?” Gibbs asked as they pulled off the interstate. There were a number of back roads to travel before they reached their potential crime scene.

“The BAU unit over at the FBI building recently got Dr. Spenser Reid out of Las Vegas like I said. Technically, he is latent, but from everything Rossi has found out, he has been hovering on the edge of coming online for years. David wants me to look at him to see if there is anything preventing him from flipping the switch,” Tony explained. “Rossi is also worried about Strauss’s manipulations, the unbonded Alpha Sentinel leading the team Reid is on and the stress of the job itself causing an explosive blow out.”

Tony could feel the curiosity burning through his Sentinel and smiled. “What team is Reid working on?”

“He is working on the premier BAU team with Aaron Hotchner, the Alpha in question,” Tony let him know.

“Hotchner?” Gibbs was silent for a moment after Tony hummed his ascent. The Guide knew why. The FBI agent was one of the contenders for the head Beta of the pride. “Aaron must be twitching something hard at having a latent Guide on his team. Are there any indications on how strong Reid will be if he comes online?”

“That is something I need to find out,” Tony admitted. “But, from the very brief meeting we had when he come to pick David up and the way Rossi is hovering, I would put him as being a very strong Guide.”

“Wolf?” Gibbs asked him with a glance of curiosity as they stopped at a light.

Tony rocked his hand back and forth in a so-so motion. “He’s strong, but part of that is his personality. He reminds me a lot of Blair. If I had to guess, I would say some type of predator. I’ll need more time with him to make sure.”

“If he reminds you of Blair, I am betting he is too,” Gibbs allowed. “Let me know when you figure things out?”

“Trust me, if he is any type of a predator, I will let you know,” Tony confirmed agreeably.

Jethro pulled the car into their destination and the GPS unit chimed in to let them know they had arrived. The Pair looked around and zeroed in on the small crowd gathered outside the old barn their directions had led them too.

“Well, this is gonna be interesting,” Tony muttered sub-vocally.

Gibbs just snorted and got out of the car and headed towards the Sentinel standing to one side of the group. Tony sighed and walked over to deal with the gaggle of officials. If he didn’t

love the grumpy bastard…

“Hello, I’m Special Agent Tony DiNozzo, Alpha Prime Guide for the mid Atlantic Pride. I understand that a crime scene has been found?” Tony reached out to the men and women before him, trying to get an emotional feel for the group.

Confusion, determination, disgust and fear, it was all roiling under the surface and the Guide kept a careful eye on the group. As he had learned the hard way, the emotional stew was normal for a violent crime scene, so he mostly ignored it. He was just happy that the obvious leader of the small group had firm control over his emotions.

“Special Agent DiNozzo, my name is Charles Morris, the Sherriff of this county,” the older man introduced himself and held his hand out to the Guide.

“Sherriff Morris, pleasure to meet you. I would wish it was under better circumstances though,” Tony firmed up his shields and shook the other man’s hand briefly, if firmly.

“If only. Agent DiNozzo,” Morris waved at the building behind them. “It’s an absolute mess inside. Adam found it and called us in. My deputies and CSI confirmed it and we’ve been waiting out here since. The APB NCIS put out fit this place too well for us to try and mess around with it,” the Sherriff wiped a hand over his forehead. “I’m just glad to turn it over to you since my county doesn’t have the resources to process it.”

“That’s what we are here for,” Tony agreed, voice positive, but not cheerful. Circumstances  like this one were not the place to play at being happy. “We’ll get moving on this. Have your people written any reports on what they found?”

“No, but we can,” Morris agreed. There was a murmur of assent from the crowd around him and Tony relaxed. Morris’s people would be okay.

“We’ll be in touch then,” Tony said as he pulled out one of his cards and handed it to the Sherriff.

Morris glanced at the card and nodded. “We’ll get that to you by the end of business today, if that is okay.”

“Sounds good. I’ll be looking for it.” Tony took the card one of Morris’s group handed him in return and nodded his thanks.


Tony shrugged at the gore group as a general sort of goodbye and walked over to his Sentinel. “Hey Jethro, ready to do this?”

Sentinel Adam Jimenez, the level three Sentinel who had found the scene looked him over and then looked back at Gibbs in question. The look the Alpha Prime Sentinel gave him was both flat and very dry, almost daring the man to comment. Tony was vaguely surprised when Jimenez forged on in the face of his Sentinel ‘s disapproval.

“Are you sure, sir, that your Guide should go in there? He may not be able to handle it, being a Guide and all.”

The Guide growled at the slight. Jimenez looked back and forth between the Pair and shrugged, standing by his statement. The Guide took a deep breath and tried to educate the man before him. “Do you try to tell everyone how to do their job, Mr. Jimenez? Or am I just special?” Tony asked. He wasn’t going to throw his weight around by ramming what he was down the guys throat. He really wasn’t.

Jimenez raised a hand as if he was trying to ward off something, before he took a deep breath. “You’re a Guide. And as I’ve been taught, Guides are to be sheltered and protected. What’s in there is just horrible. No one needs to see that, let alone a Guide.”

“I may be a Guide by my genetics Jimenez, but in this, I am Federal Agent first. So stuff the attitude that you know better than I do somewhere it won’t get you beaten and let’s get to work,” Tony informed him firmly. The glare he gave his own Sentinel was heated as he turned around to get their scene kits.

“Sir, you know I’m right!” the younger Sentinel pushed.

The look Gibbs gave him back was impatient and pissed. “Jimenez, what in the hell makes you think that a Guide can’t do the same job as a Sentinel ? Are you that backwards that you feel that it is your job to protect them from life? Do you try this shit on anyone else?”

“But he’s a Guide!”

“He’s a fully grown man, who happens to be a federal agent. He was a police detective for a number of years before that. He’s right, his genetics don’t keep him from doing the job and the fact that you think it does makes me wonder about what in the hell is being taught down here,” Gibbs growled.

The younger man shut up at that and stared at his boots while they waited on the Guide to come back. When DiNozzo came back, Gibbs gave him a very significant look, silently requesting that he let it all hang out. The look the Guide flashed him was unhappy but he let his shields thin enough to leak his presence out.

“What are you?” Jimenez asked, his head popping up to stare.

“Way, more than you are able to deal with, Sentinel. I know that I introduced myself to the Sherriff, so I have to wonder how you missed it since one of the senses you have enhanced is your hearing. It shouldn’t take showing what I am on this level for you to respect me,” Tony informed him dryly. He easily handed the heavy scene kit over and moved to stand in front of the doors.

“Stay here, keep watch and let me know if you hear anything,” Gibbs directed before he pulled out a set of gloves and slipped them on. Grabbing their scene camera, he got to work getting everything on film. Every inch of the approach to the barn was documented and he made sure to cover the doors as well. Once he was done, Tony dusted the whole thing for prints.

Unsurprisingly, most were around the doorknob. The Sentinel checked the angles and pointed to several areas where there were potential prints. Tony was quick and skillful as he twirled the fingerprint powder brush and gathered evidence. When the door was done, they pulled it open to get the first look at their crime scene.

“Oh dear god,” Tony muttered. Gibbs agreed. The room before them was a mess. “We’re gonna need booties and the suits.”

The Sentinel reached into his kit and pulled out a set of each and slid them over his clothes and shoes. Once they were on, he pulled out his phone and called the Director. They were going to need another team and a van.

As soon as he got the confirmation the team was on their way, he regloved and started gathering evidence. He was going to ignore the smells, the sights, his Guide muttering curses in Italian and Jimenez losing his lunch. He really was going to hang tough.

“I want a shower,” Tony complained softly as he made certain the plastic tarp lining the trunk could be pulled up to cover the piles of evidence they were bringing back. Gibbs made a note to congratulate the auto guys on choosing cars with big trunks. The van with the rest of the evidence had left about ten minutes before while they were finishing loading their car.

“You and me both, Tony,” the Sentinel told him. The trip home was not going to be pleasant. And he was blaming that on the contents of the evidence. Just from blood, fluids, feces, the original contents of the barn, the residual smell of what had been done to their victim, all of it escaped the edges of the sample containers to pollute the air around them. Just from the sheer amount of samples they had gotten, Gibbs was 90% certain they had located their kill house.

“We need to call home and let Kelly know we’re going to be late,” his Guide told him with a hand wave at the gathering dusk.

“Once we’re in the car,” Jethro promised. He was carefully peeling out of the blue jumpsuit they had donned after taking in the extent of the scene. Only when he was out of it did he pull his gloves off and add them to the pile of used protective gear.

His hands were steady as he bagged and then rebagged the pile of scene clothes and then dropped them beside Tony’s. His Guide waved him towards the driver’s seat as he started folding the tarp over and securing it with clips. Walking around to his seat, he Jethro slid behind the wheel and sighed. He really wondered about humanity sometimes.

The feeling of warmth and love folding around him was unexpected but incredibly welcome. Jethro pushed his own love and devotion down the bond he shared with his Guide. The action prompted a rush of shy pleasure and he grinned. The sound of the trunk closing barely pinged his hearing.

When Tony slid into the passenger seat, Gibbs ran a careful eye over his Guide and smiled. As tired as he was, neither of them were in danger of burnout. Excellent. A quick glance out the windshield showed the scene was locked up tight and tagged with the NCIS logo.

The owner of the property had shown up when they had been about half-finished and had been horrified at what had happened in his barn. When they had asked he had told them that he was willing to close everything up until told otherwise. As Gibbs had walked him back to his car, the old man had bluntly told him that he was going to burn the barn down. Better a fire and having to build a new barn than having that on his property, he declared.

Jethro couldn’t say as he blamed him.

Tony had his cell phone out and was calling home with the whole thing on speaker. The Guide had his head back and supported by the headrest with his eyes closed as the phone rang. As soon as Kelly picked up, a smile lit the other man’s face. “Tony? Are you calling me to say that you are going to be late?”

“Yeah, we are Kelly. A case took us over to West Virginia and we’re just leaving the scene. It was messy as hell.” Tony explained.

Kelly made a sound of disgust and Jethro smiled at how perfectly normal her reaction was. His daughter had blossomed under the steady attention of a Guide in her household. He hadn’t had the experience with a good Guide to see how badly she was being mishandled before. As a high powered Guide in the making she was in need of all the training she could get.

Jethro was resolutely ignoring the spirit animal he could just barely see hanging around her. No good parent ever wanted to think of bad things happening to their kid and his daughter’s spirit Guide didn’t lead to an easy path. But he was still glad that they had Tony in their lives. He made everything better.

Tuning back into the conversation he heard his daughter asking how gross the scene had been. From the sounds of her footsteps, he was certain she was up on the second floor, laying out stuff for when they got home.

“Very gross, kiddo. I need you to put out the giant zip locks so we can store our clothes for the dry cleaners,” his partner told her. “Then under our bathroom sink is a bag labeled ‘clean up’. Pull that out and set it on the counter.”

“I already grabbed the zip locks, Tony, Plus a stack of towels and flip flops so you won’t flash anyone,” Kelly reported. Her voice was echoing faintly and he knew she was in the bathroom. Gibbs kept most of his attention on the road and ignored the sound of his daughter rifling through the cabinets. “Wow Tony! Even I can smell the lemon in this and I haven’t opened the bag yet.”

Tony smiled tiredly. “Kinda the point, kiddo. That stuff will get us totally clean and make sure we don’t track any funky smells through the house.”

His daughter hummed as she unpacked the bag. “I can really smell the lemon in this. I like it.”

“I’ll show you how to make it this weekend,” Tony told her. “Given how I feel, I’m going to be using a lot of that and so will your father.”

“Nice,” there was a verbal bounciness to the tween’s voice that made the Sentinel grin. Happiness was good for the family Gibbs.

“Kelly, I have no idea how late we are going to be. I want you to call the Center and ask for a Conservator,” Gibbs directed, raising his voice slightly so the phone could pick him up.

“Dad! I’m twelve! That’s old enough to be by myself overnight,” Kelly complained.

“I know how old you are Kells. But I’m not comfortable leaving you alone for what might be the full night,” the Sentinel told her. He wasn’t going to budge on this.

“I’m with your dad, cub. You are well trained but like you said, you’re twelve. That means you need someone there to lean on. A Conservator isn’t saying you aren’t competent, just that you aren’t fully trained yet.” Tony told his hearts daughter.

There was a frustrated huff and then Kelly muttered softly to herself for several moments. “I just texted the Center and they said they will be sending a Conservator right out and that Tony knows him.”

Gibbs could hear the subtle sound of a phone vibrating and he spared a glance at his Guides phone. There was a text message and he ignored it to concentrate on his driving. When Tony gave a pleased hum, he looked over at the other man. “Who?”

“Rossi. Apparently he is taking a stay-cation and was available,” Tony reported after a glance at his phone. “I’m glad it’s him. Rossi covers all the bases.”

“Yes Tony. Mr. Rossi is coming over,” Kelly told him. From the bounce to her voice, she was happy with the Centers choice “He’s fun.”

“Glad to hear that, sweetie. Now, Tony and I are entering an area with really bad reception. We’ll talk to you when we get back to base,” Gibbs told her.

“Okay, talk to you soon!”

“Eat something healthy!” Tony called as they ended the call. “What do you bet she eats the Hot Pockets that are in the freezer with the pizza rolls?”

Gibbs snorted. Most of the time Kelly ate very well, she just wasn’t above eating what was convenient when she could. When they had overnights or late nights, she ate what was available at the house or what she could talk her Conservator into ordering. Nothing too bad, but none of it was more complicated than microwaving.

The drive back to base was quiet. The NCIS Pair continued to discuss their Pride and what was needed to draw them together. It was something outside their current case and let their brains mull over what they had seen.

“I think we need to have a full pride week. Sometime in the Fall.” Gibbs mussed. “We’ve gotten most of the major kinks out of the admin side, the Center is running smoother and you’ve impressed the Conservators with your know how. So, yeah. We need to have a Pride get together.

“What week in the Fall?” Tony asked as he reached into his backpack for his planner.

“Sometime in September, I think. The days are good, the nights a cool enough for bonfires and it’s early enough in the school year that the kids can make up the time,” Jethro suggested.

“Where do you want to have this shindig?” DiNozzo asked as he started flipping pages.

“Someplace within a hundred miles of DC?” Gibbs told him as he started weaving in and out of Beltway traffic. He knew there were several properties the Pride had access too, one of them had to be acceptable for what he wanted.

“There’s that preserve that offered themselves up?” Tony mentioned as he ran a finger down something on a page.

“So long as it’s good, I don’t see why not,” Gibbs told him.

“I’ll get us the time to check it out.” Tony agreed. The sound of his pen gliding across paper tickled across his hearing and the Sentinel smiled. The small sounds that his Guide generated were enough to keep him grounded as he moved them through the mess of traffic back to base.

Once they got back to NCIS, they pulled as close to the loading area as they could. No matter how much evidence they had, both men were determined to get it unloaded in only one trip. Thankfully there was a rolling dolly parked for occasions just like theirs.

“Abby’s lab or evidence lockup?” Tony asked as he moved boxes from the trunk to the dolly.

“It’s after midnight, Tory. I really doubt she’s here and this stuff needs to be stored.” the Sentinel  muttered as he folded the tarp up and placed it on top of their boxes.

The Guide looked at his watch and nodded. “You’re night. Way too late for Abby to be in.”

Jethro hummed in agreement and stretched out his hearing. The lower levels of the building were never busy hubs like the bullpen, but they weren’t fully empty either. At midnight that all changed. There were only a few people in the lower levels and from where they were positioned, Gibbs could tell none of them were Abby. Besides, their heartbeats didn’t sound like hers.

“And?” Tony asked as he carefully pushed the dolly down the hallway to the evidence lockup.

“She’s not here. Therefore, we lock this stuff up, leave her a note and head home. “Jethro decided.

“Good. Because I’m tired. “Tony admitted frankly.

“Me too, Tony. Me too.”

Two of the heartbeats he had heard turned out to be the guys watching over the locker. The pile from the van was in the center of the refrigerated room and Gibbs nodded as Tony wandered over to make sure everything had been correctly turned over. Gibbs got their load of boxes organized and logged in quickly, the two techs obliging them by making the process as smooth as possible.

On the way out the door, Tony taped a note to the lab door letting Abby know she had evidence waiting in lock up for her. The handcart was dropped off by the loading bay door and both men got back into the agency car, preparing to move it back to the auto pool.

“We taking this home?” Tony asked.

“I think so,” Gibbs said as he got the car started.

“Okay. So are you going to talk to Rossi in the morning?”

Tony stared out the window as they moved through security. “I think so. He worked pretty hard to get some time with us off the record.”

“Got to be something for him to work around it this way. I mean, you’ve got an open door policy for all the Pride’s Guides, and they all know it.” The Sentinel observed.

“The only thing he’s been antsy over has been Reid,” Tony admitted.

“Okay. Not much we can do now and I say we leave it for the morning,” Gibbs suggested. “I want a shower and some sleep before we do anything like talk.”

The yawn his Guide let out was loud and the Sentinel could feel it triggering his own urge to yawn. Blinking hard, the NCIS agent paid close attention to the road. Almost home and that meant lemon soap, a hot shower and a soft bed. He couldn’t wait.

Pulling into the driveway, Tony looked at the path to the house. It was only a few steps, but he was damn tired. Taking a deep breath, he pushed his door open grabbed his backpack.

“Come on Marine. Almost done.”

“Today sucked,” he heard his Sentinel mutter as the other man climbed out of the car.

Tony snorted his agreement as he picked his way up the path to the house. Once on the porch, he toed his shoes off and stepped into the flip-flops Kelly had left out for them. Uncurling a small portion of his gifts, the Guide pushed them into the house and smiled. One fully trained and shielded Wolf Guide and one half-trained Lion Guide. Both of them were sleeping soundly.

The key to the front door slid in without any problems and Tony unlocked the door as smoothly as he could. He wasn’t going for quiet, just not jarring. The Guide had no idea how antsy Rossi was about sudden changes to his environment.

From the gun pointing at him when he opened the door, the other Guide was very antsy at the thought of his territory being invaded. The NCIS agent stood very still as he watched Rossi wake up and sense come back into his eyes. Only when the FBI agent put the safety back on and holstered his weapon did he enter the house and start stripping off his clothes.

“So is it like this every time you come home?” Rossi asked as he ran a hand over his face.

“Nope, just today.” Tony let him know as he folded his jacket into a ziplock. Kelly had opened them up and folded the edges over for ease of entry. He was so damn proud of his Padawan.

“Oh, good,” The other Guide said around a yawn. “Can I get that lemon soap recipe out of you? We’ve had three body dump cases this year alone and it gets expensive to replace clothes. And I am very tired of dealing with my team’s Sentinels when they spike off the stuff the FBI uses.”

“Not a problem, David. It’s easy to mix up and doesn’t bother my Sentinel at all.” Tony told him with a wave at Gibbs as he entered the horse and started stripping out of his own clothes.

“Good. Because Hotch is having some serious issues with shit recently and I need to talk to you about what I’ve found regarding Spencer,” Rossi told them both.

“In the morning Rossi. We’re all tired, I stink and I am not having this discussion with you while I am mostly naked,” Gibbs told him firmly.

Rossi raised both hands in surrender and settled back on the couch. “I have no problems with that, Sentinel. I’ll just settle in for the rest of the night and get some sleep.”

“Good.” Gibbs muttered before dumping his clothes in the bag Tony was holding out. Reaching down the Bond, the Guide could feel how tired his Sentinel was. Sealing the bag with brisk movements, he set them to the side to be dealt with later. Clad only in his boxer briefs, the Guide followed his partner up the stairs to their room.

Their bathroom smelled strongly of lemons and to Tony was pleased to see that Kelly had put everything out for them there too. Leaning into the shower, the Guide turned the water on as hot as he thought his Sentinel could stand. When he turned around, he found his partner standing behind him, naked. Pushing his briefs off, Tony got just as naked and climbed into the water.

Hot, lemon scented hands scrubbed him from head to toe and he made sure to return the four. Tony stood still while his Sentinel inspected him closely and when the lemon scented soaps came out again, he let Jethro get him through ally clean. Grabbing the last of the soap, he carefully cleaned his partner again, making certain to get every bit of skin on his partner’s body.

Clean and much better smelling, both men got out of the shower and Tony made sure to turn it completely off. Thank goodness for tankless water heaters, the water had stayed not the whole time they had worked to get clean and the pressure hadn’t let up. Tony turned around to see his Sentinel already dry and holding out a towel, and he stepped forward into the embrace of the warm cloth.

Clean, dry and much better smelling, Sentinel and Guide moved back into their bedroom and crawled into their bed. As much as Tony wanted to, there was no way that he was going to be able to do anything else. Pressing a chaste kiss to his Sentinel’s shoulder, Tony settled in to sleep.

Chapter Eleven


  1. I was so happy to see an update, I love this story! Great chapter, too; I look forward to seeing where the case leads. 🙂 Thanks!

  2. Lovely chapter! The low level Sentinel thinking all Guides are delicate flowers made me twitch. That there are people with stupid preconceived notions like that make this AU more real somehow. That there are idiots despite having such amazing gifts drives home how human they are. Thank you for a great read!

    • Yeah, there are some dumb people out there.

      And a Sentinel thinking that a Guide is a delicate flower? Tony? :: laughs :: He is no delicate flower



  3. It was like christmas come early when I saw the update in my email!!!! Thank you for the awesome chapter and you have me even more intrigued with what is happening inside the pride! 🙂

  4. Yeah, the update makes me so happy, it’s a nice surprise.
    Happy by Rossi appareance.

  5. YAY!! Awesome update, and sorry, but I laughed a bit at the uppity Sentinal thinking Tony should be some kind of shrinking violet, then he’s the one losing his lunch. Can’t wait to see what happens next.

  6. Another excellent chapter! Thank you. 🙂

  7. greywolfthewanderer

    yow! Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo is *not* delicate! lololol…

  8. Stardragonsden

    Great setting. You get all the small details. It makes the stories about S&G all the more realistic.

  9. Brilliant and another excellent update to your amazing story. I love Tony and Jethro’s relationship with each other and with Kelly and I can’t wait for the Criminal Minds boys to be involved…*crosses her fingers that Spencer is for Aaron!* Thank you for sharing your writing 😀

  10. ididit madeuplastname

    I love this story and went through and read the whole thing again 🙂
    I wonder what Rossi wants to talk about and if they can bring Reid online properly! Thank you for the great update 🙂

  11. Squeeeeeee! o/

  12. Great update! I love Rossi in this and the interaction with DiNozzo as Alpha and Jimenez was excellent.

  13. twilight_seeker3

    Great chapter. Such a loverly balance between work and personal. Can’t wait to see what Rossi has to say.
    xoxoxox as always

  14. Thanks for updating, I am enjoying this story. Hugs, Hxx

  15. Thank you for the update. Love this story and am so glad you are continuing to share it with us.

  16. I’d read most of this already, but I decided to go back to the beginning so I really remembered all the ins and outs. The case is very intriguing in a macabre way. The fake blood leaves a lot of questions. Who would know it was being manufactured? Why use it at all? And why such an unassuming victim? Was it meant to catch the attention of a Sentinel? Is the culprit a damaged Sentinel or Guide, or a mundane with a vendetta perhaps?

    Nice to see home life is treating Tony and Gibbs well and that Kelly is learning very good control of her gifts thanks to Tony’s help and the work he’s put into the Centre.

    But what has Rossi found out about Reid and the stresses being put on Hotch? Is this more machinations on Strauss’ part?

    Looking forward to the next chapter.


  17. Love this so much! I’m enjoying the variety of interactions your giving us. The personal and professional between Tony and Gibbs is great, as is the love and dedication to Kelly. I are also looking forward to Rossi’s revelations and Kelly’s continued development.

    Lovely all the way around! (On a side note, JUST noticed I could get email updates – thanks for that!)

  18. Why is my first thought along the lines of Strauss doing something to screw with Aaron?
    I love how Tony is taking no prisoners and just getting things done for the sake of his Pride and his Sentinel. The politics and organization of the Pride manage to be as intriguing as the case. 🙂

    Its a little startling, really, how ready Morrow is to make personnel decisions based on the comfort level of the Alpha Prime G/S. That really underlined how important they are within NCIS, and it will be interesting to see more about how that influence and status carries over throughout the region.

  19. I completely and utterly love this story !!!!!
    more soon please

  20. Love this story. Got to say that Tony is not delicate.

      • I’m really glad that most of society — at the very least, the S&G society — doesn’t think of Guides as fragile flowers. Since Tony is Alpha Guide, does everyone in the pride know he is a Lion Guide, or is he rather mysterious, like Rossi? I’ve noticed that most Guides aren’t introduced by naming their spirit animal, so am curious as to whether that is something usually kept very private, if its rude to ask, etc.

        • For the most part, if you are an Alpha level Guide, you aren’t going to be a bunny… To reach that level, the *default* is thought to be a Wolf. Lions are rare in the US because there have been very few needs for one. Tony is just special like that


          And keeping his Spirit Animal under wraps? If he is asked, he tells. But most people think, given his position, that he is a Wolf

  21. Loved this update! I don’t know how I missed this update before. I can’t wait to hear what Rossi has to tell the guys. This is truly one of my favorite stories and one of the few in progress ones I read.

  22. Thank you for the amazing reads Ladyholder. The story lines are woven together breathtakingly and the dialogue just drew me right in! I can already see the obsessive email checking I’ll be doing… It will be that much more exciting when the next part arrives! Absolutely dying to see what Rossi found out about Reid! Thank you, thank you, thank you ~;~
    Ah also quick question. Is Daddy Gibbs (Jackson) going to make an appearance?

  23. loved it, not sure how I missed it before, but I really enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  24. Thank you for such a great story. Can’t wait got the next part!

  25. As happens (a LOT) with me…I stumbled across this by a comment made from another site. Being a HUGE Tony/Gibbs fan I had to come check it out and I am intrigued by this story.

    Looking forward to the next part!

  26. This is really great. I have just finished reading the whole thing. Can’t wait to see more hopefully!

  27. Brilliant.
    I love the way Tony stands up for himself yet is caring and protective of Jethro.

  28. Wow I love this fic..and Gibbs/Tony I can’t wait read more …congrats excellent work 🙂

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