Out of Place (John Sheppard) - Entry 7 in Tony’s Black Book
Tony had found a bar off a side alley because right now, a drink seemed like a good idea. He was once again getting shipped off like a naughty schoolboy, only this time it wouldn’t be RIMA, this time he was being shipped away to sea. Out of sight, out of mind - was how it felt, the irony was that the others on the team took it harder than he did.
What Abby, Ziva, and Tim had all missed was the look in Gibbs’ eyes. Tony could tell that Gibbs blamed him for the Director’s death even though Jenny was the one who had determined how she would die. The fact that the rest of the team were still Washington and he was the only one sent away also spoke volumes.
In truth Tony had blamed himself too but for once he’d gone to counselling. It had done him good. It had been like pulling teeth having to talk about his feelings. His shields had been in place for a long time so letting go of them had felt beyond painful. He’d persevered though as he was unhappy with his life and needed a fresh perspective.
When the new Director, Leon Vance, had given him the ship assignment Tony had almost picked up his resignation letter ready to quit. The only reason he hadn’t was his therapist, Rachel Crane, had made him see that he wouldn’t forgive himself if he made an impulsive decision while he was feeling so off balance that ended up being detrimental to his career. He had decided to take this time to take a breath and decide his next move and if he happened to prove some people wrong in the meantime, well that was just too bad.
So here he was in San-Francisco, during Fleet Week. The whole place was one walking cliche. The only improvement was since DADT had been repealed, people were freer with who and what they wanted. Tony had seen more than a few couples of every variety as well as the odd trio. Tony didn’t care as long as everyone was legal and consenting - although he drew the line at animals . It was all cool in his book as it was not his place to judge.
The bar he was drinking in could only be described as a quaint dive. Tony didn’t care because it had a character that he adored. He had many questions he needed to think about and the USS Seahawk would give him space to think. He noticed he was getting more than the odd look. The trouble for Tony it was more, ‘ what is a guy like you doing drinking here’. Whereas, all he was looking for was a good night of fun.
The door opened and a group of Marines spilled through it. They were definite Jarheads and officers too. Although, what made Tony curious was the fact they were wearing black BDU’s. The group was fascinating to observe. At the centre of the group, was the commander but he was wearing Air-Force wings. Now that made Tony even more curious as it was rare for that big of a group to go across the service branch. He had to be the commander as there was no one else who could get away with that haircut.
The group toasted their commander, “To the Colonel, the only guy who can come back from a Hail Mary.”
The man blushed and managed to extricate himself from the group. He’d ordered a few rounds so they were okay and then he spotted someone at the bar he thought he knew.
“So of all the Gin joints, I find you here?” John said, glad for the chance to catch up with an old friend.
Tony whirled around at the butchered movie quote to see a face from the past. “John?”
“Hey, Tony," John looked just as good as the last time he'd seen him. "How are you doing?”
Tony spluttered because he found himself speaking the truth. “Now, there is a loaded question, you sure you want the answer?”
John sat on the stool next to him. “So tell me. I got nothing but time.”
Tony had a wry smile, “I have tonight. Then I am out on the Seahawk.”
John frowned, “You told me you were sticking it to your old man. You wanted to be a cop.”
They had been close friends growing up. The strained relationships with their fathers was a common ground between them and they might have been more at one time. Still, John wanted the skies and Tony had wanted sports. At that time, you couldn't have either one and in a gay relationship. As a result, they had kept their friendship platonic never exploring their true chemistry. John had been the one to kick his ass when Tony had realised his sports career was over. They'd then lost touch when John had gone to Afghanistan.
Tony sighed, “I was, I am. Right now, I am working as a Federal Agent, NCIS.”
Sheppard nodded as he didn’t need any further explanation. After all, he commanded Marines. “Well, at least we have tonight.”
Tony could work with the short term. They caught up on all the things they’d missed in each other’s lives. It was crazy all the things they could share. John had paled when he’d heard about the plague. Tony had paled hearing about the edited version of his recent field promotion.
John looked at the drink in his friend’s hand. He could see a dangerous path his friend was starting to slide down. “You don’t need that you know.”
Tony sighed, “Well, it's drink or sex, and I was trying to turn over a new leaf.”
“Why?” John smirked at him and all the blood rushed south in Tony’s body. “We could finally do something about us.”
There it was. Jesus, John had never been shy about going after what he wanted in life. Tony had taken a leaf out of his book in deciding to be a cop. He couldn’t believe that they were getting a second chance after all this time.
John needed Atlantis but he deserved some happiness of his own. All his team had found someone else. The job was his life and he would admit that but he wasn’t naive. He couldn’t do it forever as much as he wanted to - John felt like this meeting was fate, a second chance. And John wasn’t one for letting opportunities slip through his fingers.
Tony looked at his old friend, and John looked good even in BDU’s. “Anyone ever tell you that you are ridiculously good-looking. I mean how does anyone get any work done around you?.”
John snickered as he slid off his stool and held out his hand, “I could do so much more. Come on Tony, take a chance. You are out of place here.”
It was just a hand but at the same time, it was so much more.