Title: Home Is Where The Pack Is
Word Count: 1972
Spoilers: Singled Out
Warnings: It's slash, but you won't see that here
Disclaimer: They're not mine, pretty as I find them. Go to the producers if you want to talk money.
Summary: AU but following canon events: A short conversation about Abby and pack on the way to the movies. Takes place immediately after You Can't Go Home Again - Part 3
Tony watched Gibbs go up the stairs with a bounce in his step that had been missing recently, maybe even missing since before the explosion. Seeing his alpha so happy made him happy, as screwy as that was. He was still coming to terms with just what having a real alpha did to him sometimes. He wondered if it was easier for those raised in packs.
However, zoning out to Gibbs joy was not what he needed to be doing right now. Tony gathered together the various empty and half empty boxes of Chinese food and carried it all upstairs. As he threw the leftovers in the fridge and the trash in the trash, he pulled out his cell phone and dialed Abby.
“Mistress Desdemona's Fortress of Desire, Abby speaking,” came through the tinny cell phone speaker.
“Grab three tickets for the movies, I'm bringing company,” Tony said without preamble, though he was grinning at Abby's opening.
“Oh, who?” she cooed back excitedly.
“Gibbs,” Tony replied, unable to hide his own amazement that he could say that.
“You talked to him?” Abby cried excitedly. “And you didn't tell me? I've been nagging you for a week.”
“I talked to him,” Tony said defensively. “It was my place to talk and not yours to nag.”
There was an odd pause for a moment, then Abby laughed and said, “He talked to you.”
Tony growled softly, keeping an ear out for the sound of water through the pipes. When it stopped, he wanted to be off the phone. He did not need Gibbs overhearing this. “He didn't remember, but yes, he confronted me.”
“So everything is okay now? I mean, you said you're bringing him to the movies ...” Abby babbled excitedly.
“It's better,” Tony interrupted. “Not perfect, but better. It's going to take time for more than that.”
“But he apologized for putting you in that situation, right? I mean, he didn't remember but that so wasn't fair, though the boss isn't the apologetic type he sure owes you on this one ...”
Tony cut her off again sharply. “Abs, actually, yes, he apologized. But don't expect me to repeat that. Ever.”
“Wow,” Abby said, her tone one of utter awe.
“Abby, he'll be out of the shower in a minute. Get the tickets and we'll be there soon,” Tony said desperately, about ready to just hang up the phone on her. He could hear Gibbs shutting off the water.
“Shower?” Abby asked pointedly. “You have some explaining to do.”
“Later,” he promised.
“Like how you got him to agree to come with,” Abby added excitedly.
“He wants some time with his pack,” Tony said, unable to stop grinning at the thought.
Abby cooed excitedly. “That's wonderful. Does he know I know?”
“Not yet,” Tony admitted.
“But he said pack?” Abby asked.
“Abs, of course he did,” Tony said encouragingly. He heard footsteps on the stairs. “I'll tell him on the way, if I can keep breakfast down. See you soon.” He would pay for it later, but he hung up the phone without saying goodbye and walked into the living room.
“That Abby?” Gibbs asked as he hit the bottom of the stairs.
“She's getting tickets for us,” Tony replied. He was struggling not to react to the image before him. Jeans and a t-shirt were simple, bland, not sexy, and yet somehow it drew him. Even more appealing was the gray hair darkened by the moisture still left from the shower and the clean scent that wafted from the older man, soap and water top notes over the rich layer of sawdust and coffee that was inherent in the man. It all brought back fond memories of the last year, but it also reminded him of everything he'd lost the last few months. The contrast was driving him nuts, so he pushed it down. Denial was an excellent coping mechanism, one he'd perfected years ago. He'd be fine ass long as he didn't think about the fact that he was going to be sitting with Gibbs in a dark theater all afternoon.
Fortunately, Gibbs broke that train of thought for him. “Let's go then,” Gibbs said, stalking towards the door with predatory grace. Tony struggled to wipe an appreciative leer off his face as he followed.
They were silent getting into the car, and Tony only let out a muffled 'eep' as Gibbs took off full tilt before he had a chance to grab the 'oh shit' bar. He was a bit out of practice dealing with Gibbs' driving, but he found his balance came back quickly.
“Abby knows,” Tony said once he'd given basic directions to their destination.
“Knows what exactly?” Gibbs asked, glancing over at Tony.
“About me,” Tony said, trying not to stutter at the look in Gibbs' blue eyes. It was part curiosity, part frustration, and part lust. “Not about us ... I didn't tell her a thing. She picked up on things that night she stayed over when her stalker ex was after her. My fault for wanting to play guard dog. And she might have seen me shift when I was leaving. Seriously, I thought she was asleep. Being Abby, she did research, and I still need to have a talk with her contact about blabbing shifter details to humans without confirming that they're pack.”
Gibbs drove in silence for several minutes before he finally spoke. “So Abby knows about shifters, that you're a shifter, and she's seen your bare ass?”
Tony wasn't quite sure what to make of Gibbs' tone. His emphasis on the last part was a little unsettling, especially since he had just promised to step back for now. So Tony did the only thing he knew how, he made a joke. “You've seen my ass. McGee has seen my ass. Ducky has certainly seen my ass. Hell, Ziva actually rated it once and has seen it plenty of times. As I recall, Jenny has seen more than that, and you were with her at the time. So yes, Abby has now seen my ass. Welcome to the club. And she more than just knows about shifters. She offered her neck in full submissive behavior the other day.”
Gibbs was silent again for a minute, and Tony wondered if he was going to comment on the ass thing again. An odd progression of expressions crossed the older man's face, but Tony couldn't pin them before the solid Gibbs mask rose again. “Someone has been doing a lot of blabbing,” Gibbs finally said, sounding concerned. “I assume Abby isn't the only one he's been talking to.”
“Don't know yet, but I'd assume not,” Tony admitted a bit ruefully. He really had meant to look into Abby's contact before now.
“You want company when you talk to him?” Gibbs asked politely, utterly startling Tony. He wasn't sure if he'd been expecting to be ordered to hand over the address or ordered to deal with the guy, but he had not expected an offer of assistance. He'd forgotten how nice it was to have a competent alpha around.
“Wouldn't turn it down,” Tony said blandly. “Might be something your contacts would want to look into, or sanitize, or something,” he added, remembering Gibbs' talk of people who covered for shifters in the military.
The existence of shifters stayed hidden because they didn't go telling a lot of people they existed. As long as they kept their mouths shut and a low profile, maybe they'd avoid going the way of the black man or the gay man, though both of those could be shifters. There was no noticeable difference physically, they came in every race and color, and no one had ever found a genetic marker than made them what they were (as far as Tony knew anyway). Shifters just were. They simply had the ability to shift, some interesting instincts when it came to packs and alphas, and a predilection to be bisexual instead of exclusively one or the other. All of which would go over so well with the common man.
“Where?” Gibbs asked.
“Address Abby gave me is just off Dupont Circle,” Tony replied. He had memorized that address a week ago, even if he hadn't actually followed up yet, and destroyed the paper it was written on. There was always a chance that something might happen to him, and he didn't want that address in his wallet if he died. There would be questions and interviews, and none of it would be good for the continued secrecy of shifters.
“Tomorrow afternoon?” Gibbs suggested.
“I've got plans,” Tony said apologetically. “Next Saturday?”
“I'll pick you up at ten,” Gibbs said in agreement.
Silence would have filled the car for a moment if it weren't for the three car horns blaring loudly. Once that obstacle was past, Gibbs changed the subject back and asked, “So what exactly does Abby want to do with her new knowledge?”
“Just to know she's part of the pack,” Tony replied once he got his breath back. “I found out when she was too understanding about my frustration when you came back to work without a word. Then I really found out how much she knew when she offered me her neck after I growled at her.”
“Told you you made a good alpha,” Gibbs said with obvious pride.
“There are those born to it and those who learn,” Tony said, emphasizing the latter. “I had a good teacher, but that doesn't mean I like doing it. I was just the one there. She was convinced you're a shifter too, guess that made her want to know all the proper tricks.”
“I wish,” Gibbs muttered wistfully.
Tony looked over in surprise, almost missing the way they barely missed the semi truck on the right. He didn't know how to respond to that, so he settled on a sad smile and changed the subject. It was a longing he both could and couldn't understand. Being a shifter was who he was, but he could imagine knowing that shifters were there, living with them, but being unable to join in. It sounded unpleasant, and Gibbs had been living it for decades.
“Just let her know you consider her pack. I think that's all she wants,” Tony said.
They rode in silence, give or take the regular honking of angry horns, the rest of the way to the theater, arriving with five minutes to spare. Abby was standing out front, towering over much of the crowd in her platform boots, though her choice of black with a dog collar didn't stand out that badly with the crowd in this part of town.
Abby greeted Tony with a big hug, which he returned, and a kiss on the cheek. However, before she hugged Gibbs she paused, staring him in the eye. “Tony says you remember,” she said, eyebrow cocked curiously.
“Perhaps not everything,” Gibbs admitted, “But I think I have the important stuff now.”
Abby leaned in and hugged him but whispered in his ear, “You better treat him right.”
Gibbs whispered back penitently, “I'll be treating the whole pack right. I have four months to make up for.” When he pulled back, he kissed her on the cheek, his hand on her shoulder and his thumb just grazing her neck under the edge of her collar.
That seemed just the right thing to do, as Abby lit up, practically glowing from head to toe. “Well then, we have a movie to get to.” Abby grabbed their arms and hauled them into the theater, one of her boys on each side.
Tony let himself be pulled along with a grin of his own. His alpha was back, his pack sister was happy, and they were going to introduce Gibbs to the wonders of Alien. Okay, that last one was still a bit strange, but the rest made it feel as though the world were finally slotting back into alignment. It was going to be a good day.