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one man's monster

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The problem is that pretty much everyone runs screaming when they meet Gibbs's dæmon.

Which is stupid, because no self-respecting dæmon would ever eat a human, but Gibbs supposes the reaction is understandable. Mara is one hell of a large snake. 16.6 feet long from her nostrils to the tip of her tail and 175 pounds, Mara is the body-crushing, man-eating monster of some people's nightmares.

Most people have land animals for dæmons - cats and dogs, spiders and rats - and there's a few with aquatic creatures for dæmons - the occasional frog or fish - but, usually, not predators. Those with hyenas or venomous scorpions or polar bears, are either of a strong will, or have a fierce desire to protect people, or have suffered a great deal of trauma (the Settling of a dæmon's form relies on personality and values, and child abuse or tragedy is a big life-changer), or are simply psychopaths.

It's no surprise that people watch Gibbs with wary, fearful eyes for having a giant anaconda dæmon (he and Mara don't blame them for being scared, sometimes they scare themselves).

But usually Gibbs couldn't care less. Why should it worry him that the expression of his soul comes across as dangerous? He's a highly trained marine sniper become NCIS field agent. He is dangerous. He was dangerous even before he received all the training, hence Mara's settled form of a giant death snake: it was run off to join the marines and become a state-sanctioned killer or start murdering all his homophobic, racist, bullying, fuckwad peers.

Of course, he'd rather spend his days swimming, or snoozing in the sun, or eating too much steak in one sitting, so his deadly, sleek, olive dæmon is a perfect fit for him, but the fact that he's once more getting chewed out for letting Mara 'scare off' his latest 'partner' is infuriating. She hadn't done anything more than say hello to the cowardly idiot, and Gibbs can hardly be expected to work with someone who literally pisses himself at the sight of his new partner's dæmon.

Still, Tom Morrow is right. He can't keep burning through wannabe agents and temp agents and probies. It's just not sustainable when he's getting fucked over by the workload and NCIS is running out of agents to offer up. He needs an actual, capable, partner. Someone good. At their job, and as a person. Someone who isn't terrified by Gibbs's soul made physical.




"Oh, aren't you a beauty!" coos Detective DiNozzo to Mara.

Gibbs stares at him in alarmed disbelief. It's one thing to not piss yourself in fear when confronted with a 16.6 ft snake (she's childishly insistent about the point six), but it's another to be completely blind to the fact that it could crush you to death.

"Wow! Look at all your colourful, pretty scales!" DiNozzo's grinning broadly. He's clearly got no self-preservation instincts, Gibbs realises with a sinking stomach. He's already having visions of running around after this lunatic partner of his, trying to keep him out of trouble (Gibbs ignores how he's already considering Ton-DINOZZO!- his partner).

But Mara preens under Tony DiNozzo's gaze ('Traitor,' Gibbs accuses her, pushing aside the warmth in his chest), and she uncurls to get a better look at DiNozzo, somehow managing to flex this way and that, showing off all her strength and agility.

'You didn't mention he was a charmer, Jethro', Mara tells him, her tongue darting out to get a better sense of the handsome detective from Baltimore. Gibbs had had to leave her behind in a car parked close to the 'drug deal' going down. A predator animal for a dæmon would have given away his undercover op. The distance had been painful, especially once Detectives DiNozzo and Price had driven him to the police station, but the marines had trained him and Mara well for such torture scenarios.

But this is DiNozzo's first chance to meet Mara, and for Mara to meet him, and the only test that actually matters to Gibbs. Crime scene investigation methods and science can be taught, but courage isn't a skill Gibbs has ever managed to impart to others, simply because he himself is more fearless than brave.

"God, Gibbs, she's gorgeous!" says DiNo- Tony (Gibbs's heart skips a beat upon hearing she's gorgeous and he gives up).

Gibbs eyes him curiously. "You're not scared?" Mara curls up on her nest on his desk, but no less watchful for her physical reticence.

Tony turns to him, bewildered. "Why would I be scared?"

"Because she's- scary?" says Gibbs, wondering why he sounds like he's asking a question. "She's big and scary and could kill a full grown man," he informs Tony seriously.

Tony chuckles. "That's right," he muses to himself. "You haven't met my big boy yet, have you."

He spins round to face the bullpen windows and calls out, "'Tello! Donatello! Stop napping you lazy bastard and get over here!"

Tony shakes his head sheepishly and he peers up at Gibbs from under the bangs come loose of his hair gel. "Sorry, Gibbs, I meant to introduce you guys ASAP, but he found a nice sunny spot to sleep in," says Tony apologetically. "Wait, do you like cats? You're not allergic to cat hair or something, are you?"

Gibbs raises an eyebrow, then movement catches his gaze and his jaw drops.

A huge, hulking, Bengal Tiger, comes slinking around into the bullpen. His head and shoulders come up to their waists easily, probably 600 pounds of solid muscle, and he pads over languidly, with all the slow deliberation and elegant grace of an apex predator. Tony's beautiful, orange with black stripes, magnificent dæmon sits down beside the man and leans against his human's legs, staring up at Gibbs and Mara with large, playful eyes.

"This is Donatello," announces Tony proudly, tangling a hand in the Donatello's fur, and Donatello lowers his head and nuzzles Tony's thigh.

"Whoah," breathes out Gibbs, looking at the perfect picture of beautiful and deadly that the man and dæmon make (and Mara nods her head repetitively in pleased, impressed agreement), and a grin tugs at his lips. "DiNozzo, I have a gut feeling, that you and I, and Donatello and Mara, we're all gonna get along just fine."