Chapter 1: It’s one bombshell after the other.
Gibbs was a terrible patient and Tony had documented proof of the fact. He kept a copy of the AMA sign-outs when Gibbs wanted to make a comment against his own stupid stunts. He did feel some sympathy for Tobias as, right now, Jethro was definitely testing the guide’s patience.
“What’s that look for?” Gibbs asked like he didn’t already know the answer.
Tony just stared straight back. He was never one to wilt under Gibbs’ glare and that wasn’t going to change anytime soon. “You know why. You are a terrible patient, Jethro, and you need to heal. You cannot begin to truly settle your senses until your body is healed. You know this.”
Gibbs just grunted. “Hate being shot.”
Tony snorted because truer words had never been spoken. “We never like being shot ... it's the downside to the job. And let’s not run through my catalogue of misfortunes because you’ll make Aaron grumpy. I do not deserve a grumpy guide just because you can’t let your wounds heal.”
Tobias actually chuckled out loud at the comment. He was never bored around Tony and Jethro, that was for sure. It was slowly sinking in that maybe he’d never be bored again. Truth be told, he was looking forward to the future. He was guessing that along with his daughter, he had now just folded in an adopted son. His instincts were already adding him and the Hotchner’s to his pride.
Tony rolled his eyes at their antics. He didn’t hide his smirk as he had a plan to get his own way and it was fool-proof. “Anyways, I have a secret weapon that means you will stay oh so very still.”
Tobias didn’t believe that there was a force possible on this Earth. However, he was well aware of Tony’s ability to pull miracles out of thin air. He couldn't wait to see what Tony had planned.
“Jack - come here, kiddo.”
Little Jack Hotchner came into the room with a book in his hand and his baby hawk spirit animal visible on his shoulder. He looked so adorable and his pout was turned up to melting ice. “Will you read my story, Grandpaw?”
Gibbs glared at Tony over Jack’s shoulder. “You fight dirty.”
“I fight the way you taught me as an agent.” Tony finished sweetly.
Tobias snorted at Tony’s little victory. He knew it was time for Tony to cut and take the win. “Go do what you have to do ... I’ll manage Grumpy here.”
Tony nodded his thanks. “Good, I need to make sure the paperwork goes through for the SG sanctions regarding McGee and David.” He promised as that was his priority. He was pissed about their callous treatment of team members and next time it might not be someone as stubborn as Jethro.
Gibbs grunted at the mention of their names. He hated how things had imploded but he loved Tony’s version of justice. He would have been well within his rights to have killed the defective duo but Tony’s justice meant their shame would linger.
Gibbs could tell that right now they hadn’t realised the full implication of the sanction yet, but it would soon sink in. It was nothing less than they deserved for their actions. They couldn’t work with anyone who employed sentinels and guides.
Tobias was at the moment serving as a guide-conservator but this was too easy. He couldn’t help but watch with awe at how easily Gibbs interacted with little Jack Hotchner. This was not what he expected but so much had changed in the last few months. This felt like the natural progression of things.
He sat in the chair and soaked up the warmth. As a guide in law enforcement, there were so many times where the emotions around him were all too bleak. You learnt to take the good moments and store them as a shield against the terrible ones.
“Uncle Toby, you should help. He won’t do the voices.” Jack said sleepily.
Gibbs had a soft smirk on his face at the way Jack pulled Tobias out of his brooding thoughts. “Yeah, Uncle Toby, come on.”
Tobias was pulled onto the other side of the bed. He checked Gibbs’ shields and for now, they were as strong as they could be. He looked at the page they’d got to. “The elves of Lothlorien were...”
After the chapter was finished, Jack carefully hugged Jethro. “Thanks, Grandpaw. Now I can watch the movie at home.”
Gibbs could see the question in Tobias’ eyes so he explained. “Tony has a rule. He’ll watch as many movies with Jack as he likes but if it’s made from a book then he needs to read it first.”
Tobias was getting used to all the new sides of Tony; Alpha-Sentinel, Assistant Director of the FBI, husband to Aaron Hotchner, and now finally - the Dad.
Tony stepped into his office to find two of his favourite people in the world waiting for him… and who wasted no time getting down to business.
“You’ve had an interesting few days.” Jim Ellison remarked, deadpan as usual.
Tony snorted at the comment, knowing it was an understatement. “Hey, I played nicely even if my instincts wanted me to go for the jugular.”
“How’s Gibbs doing today?”
Tony smirked evilly. “He’s adjusting to the fact he’s now online at his age. He’s giving his conservator crap ... but it’s likely that Fornell is his true guide. Well, at least according to Jack.”
Sandburg cocked his head to the side, contemplating that revelation. What a pairing . “I can see that actually. They certainly will be able to stand up to each other.”
Jim chuckled because it would be a strong pairing once it settled. “Oh yeah, but woe betide anyone who tries to get in their way.”
Tony snorted as he’d seen that in action just at the hospital. He had many things to worry about but Gibbs’ bonding wasn’t one of them. “Agreed and I know they’ll make a great pairing. Their spirit animals are already smitten with each other.”
“And how do you feel about that?” Ellison asked, aware of the complicated history between all the men.
Tony shrugged as it was yet another new thing to adapt to but he would, he always did. It helped that he actually liked Tobias. “I have a new step-guide-agent to add to the family. He was already part of the tribe anyway.”
Ellison understood that reasoning as he felt the same about his police friends. He chose to move the conversation onto another topic but one that was also more interesting to him. “So I heard you applied sanctions to two members of NCIS. In Erin’s words - it was glorious and justified.”
Tony laughed as Erin Strauss had been immensely helpful the previous day. “She was allowed to let her inner bitch out so I could keep control of my temper.”
“The intolerable sanction has been ratified and if they break it ... we’ll go on a hunt.” Ellison finished with a bloodthirsty smirk. It wasn’t an empty threat - it was a promise. Ellison and Sandburg were the Alpha Primes for the US but they would retire and when they did, Aaron Hotchner and Anthony DiNozzo would be taking their place. Although the two Alpha Primes intended to stick around to let the family pride grow and settle before they even considered retirement.
Ellison and Sandburg were sure that McGee, from his profile, would be smart enough to put his IT skills to good use and not break his sanction. The woman, Ziva David, they were seventy-five percent certain she would break her sanction.
Tobias woke up from a nap to hear Gibbs speaking into his phone once more. He only spoke with that softer tone to one person - Tony.
He waited for the call to end before asking what he wanted to know, “What did your son want?”
Gibbs didn’t deny the connection. “To say the paperwork has gone through but he believes Ziva will break the sanction.”
“She can’t be that stupid, can she?” Fornell asked his soon to be Sentinel, knowing that the man knew the woman as well as anyone.
Gibbs didn’t shrug as it would cause pain but he didn’t hide his facial expressions. “She’s a spoilt daddy’s girl, who both loathes and desires Eli David’s attention above all else.”
“Jesus, I can think of better role models.”
Gibbs smirked. “You’re telling me. How are you holding up?”
Tobias could have been surprised but he wasn’t. “You know, you’ve always driven me up the wall ... now we’re just gonna make it official.”
Gibbs had to chuckle weakly at one thought. “You know I kind of want to be a fly on the wall when Vance finds out I’ve also joined the FBI. SECNAV is going to give him hell.” The last part was said with no small amount of glee.
Tobias was shocked at the idea that Jethro was willing to come to the FBI. “You retired and got shot the last time you consulted.”
Gibbs rolled his eyes. “You’re my guide and we both know it. There is no way you want to quit and besides, this way we can keep an eye on the kids.”
“The kid is the Alpha Sentinel of the Eastern Seaboard.” Tobias reminded him dryly.
Gibbs snorted in derision because that hardly mattered to his instincts. “He’ll always be a kid to me, and I suspect to you too.”
Tobias was glad Jack was sleeping at Gibbs’ side. “Less so, after I watched him stake the Reaper to a wall.”
Gibbs didn’t see an issue in what Tony had done before he’d come online. Now, he understood the inclination even more. “He protected his guide.”
“You know I can protect myself.” Tobias reminded him pointedly.
Gibbs ignored the sarcasm. “So could Aaron. We’ll be two sides of the same coin, Tobias. You’ll protect me just as I’ll protect you.”
Tobias knew he must be getting old as that sounded just fine with him. “Okay, you win.”
Gibbs snickered in disbelief. “You are not going to be this easy.”
Fornell grinned wickedly. “No, but you’re injured so I’ll wait until you’re recovered.”
“Looking forward to it.”
“Are you stupid?!?!” Eli shouted down the phone at his erstwhile daughter.
Ziva sighed because this was the last thing she needed, her father’s judgemental tone. “So you’ve heard?”
“Heard!” Eli’s voice rose even higher. “You have gotten yourself internationally sanctioned. There is no way you can work in Mossad, or anywhere else for that matter.”
“That is nonsense.” Ziva spat. She just couldn’t work with Sentinels or Guides. All because Tony was having a hissy fit. Gibbs survived so she didn’t see the issue. He was just overreacting like normal.
“Ziva, you cannot talk to any Sentinel or Guide, they’ve not just sanctioned you they’ve declared you intolerable.” Eli informed her, the disappointment audible in his voice.
Ziva sat down in shock, she hadn’t realised that Tony would seek the highest sanction. This would ruin her, he couldn’t do this to her. She needed help, who would be able to help her? It would have to be someone who didn’t know about her circumstances but held a grudge against Gibbs. Oh, that was too easy and would be so simple.
She could call Sergei Mishinev, he’d already called a vendetta on the killer of his half-brother. She could bend the truth and say it was Gibbs, and give him Tony and Tobias as the two people that would hurt him. It was a perfect plan.
The only trouble with best-laid plans is they oft go astray.
Sergei didn’t expect a call from Ziva but he was curious enough to answer it and find out what she wanted. “What do I owe the honour of this call?”
“We’re practically family, Sergei, let’s not be formal about it.” Ziva purred.
“The last I heard you were fattening yourself up in America.” Sergei retorted, letting her know he wasn’t in the mood to play nice.
Ziva knew she could manipulate him with just a few words. “Don’t be rude to the woman who can give you Ari’s killer and the best way to get revenge.”
Sergei stopped what he was doing and actually paid attention as the conversation suddenly got interesting. “I’m listening.”
“Jethro Gibbs shot him and he is injured right now. I tried to kill him for Ari and failed.” She finished with a huff like she was most aggrieved by the whole situation.
Sergei rolled his eyes. “There is no revenge in killing an injured man but I won’t say no to it.”
Ziva chuckled heartily. There was a reason why she’d kept in contact with Ari’s half-brother even if there was no blood relation between them - he was like-minded in so many ways. “Well, there is the man who he thinks of as a son, Anthony DiNozzo. He previously lost a child and mentally he would not survive losing another child.”
“I will be in Washington soon. I will send word.”
The call was over just like that - and Ziva had unknowingly sealed her own fate.
Tobias had done his day and instead of sleeping in his apartment he was finding himself collecting some things to head back to the hospital. He just couldn’t let Jethro stay on his own and he was surprised by the guests who appeared before him.
Diane was at the door with Emily. “Hello, Em. Diane, I’m just heading back to the hospital.”
She frowned as something wasn’t adding up. “I thought you said Jethro will be fine.”
Tobias snorted. “It’s Jethro. I don’t think a bomb could take him out.” He knew he’d have to start somewhere. “I’m going for me.” She was the mother of his child no matter what they felt between them now.
She narrowed her eyes at him. “Is this a guide issue?”
A Guide issue - what a way to explain their break-up in one easy phrase. When he’d come online as a guide she hadn’t trusted that a) he wouldn’t run away from her the minute he found his sentinel, or b) he would use his empathy to be intrusive and figure out her thoughts. Still, Tobias refused to be apologetic about who he was and answered her resolutely. “More than you possibly can know. Now, I love Em and will happily take her with me to the hospital if that’s okay with her.”
“I want to go see Uncle Gibbs anyway.”
There was unease in her countenance and you didn’t need to have a guide’s power to know that. Tobias watched as she tried to convince Diane that would be the best thing for her. “You should enjoy your anniversary dinner alone, mum. I’ll be fine with Dad.”
Tobias grinned and accepted the hug from his daughter. “I certainly have no objections. I love spending time with you, Em.”
Em was so relieved. “See, mum? I told you it would be no problem.”
Diane kissed her on the head. “You didn’t have to do this. You come first.”
“I know, mum,” Em replied dutifully. “You should enjoy yourself. I will.”
Diane looked doubtful but kissed her daughter goodbye. She was aware that something was wrong but knew if she tried to press Emily then she would get nowhere. She had to trust that Em would share the problem with her sooner rather than later.
Tobias waited until Diane was well and truly away from his door before he asked his daughter. “So what is it?”
Emily didn’t look amused. She had her arms crossed over her chest, a perfect little Diane. “You tell me. I keep seeing this cat that no one else can see.”
Tobias wondered if the bombshells would stop - just for the day. He hugged her close, knowing she would be struggling with the empathic output of everyone else. “You already know the answer to that. I’m going to phone a friend to help.”
Even as he explained this he was phoning Tony. “Hey, I need you to meet me at the hospital. Em is coming online.”
Silence reigned for about a second. “I’ll be right there. Welcome her to the family. You are not in this alone, Tobias.”