In this version of the world, Gibbs was in an explosion a few weeks earlier, and arrived home just after Shannon saw the drug dealer kill the marine. He took one look at the situation and packed his family off to Stillwater where the girls could hide as the family pets and the local pack could keep an eye on the borders. Everyone survived. However, he still impressed Mike Franks and was offered a job at NCIS. The gist of the world remains the same. The difference is that Gibbs has only been married once and still lives with Shannon and their two kids.
This story is about how Gibbs recruited Tony.
Series: Home AU
Word Count: 2985
Disclaimer: They're not mine, pretty as I find them. Go to the producers if you want to talk money.
Summary: AU that does not follow canon. What if Shannon and Kelly still lived? Gibbs isn't quite the same man, but he still wants Tony on his team.
Tony was met at the door by a redheaded woman with a welcoming grin. Tony responded with a come hither twist of the lips but found no response in her face. She didn't look him over or do a mental comparison with her husband, just welcomed him into the house and told him to head out back. Highly impressed, Tony obeyed.
Out back, he found a large grill, redolent with the smell of properly cooking steaks, lorded over by the blue eyed, gray haired NCIS agent who had made his last case both a joy to work and one of the worst headaches he'd ever endured. Certain he'd left the agent with more of the latter feeling than the former, he wasn't quite sure how he'd ended up with an invitation to dinner that weekend, but he'd been unable to say no.
“Glad you could make it,” Gibbs said, waving a pair of metal tongs at the Baltimore detective. “Beer's in the cooler.”
“How could I resist?” Tony replied teasingly, claiming an icy bottle for himself before leaning one hip against the picnic bench near the grill. “You've been touting your wife's cooking for two weeks.”
Gibbs grinned broadly at him. “She's promised something special for dessert, though she won't say what.”
“It's a surprise,” the redhead said, coming outside to give her husband a kiss on the cheek. Now she gave Tony a playful once over even as her husband wrapped a possessive arm around her waist. “Like your guest. You didn't say they made them so pretty in Baltimore.”
“Shannon Gibbs,” Gibbs said with mock seriousness before kissing his wife soundly. He then gave Tony his own once over that left the younger man fighting back a blush. “While I agree, it didn't seem the important subject. Pat's good looking.”
“He's also thick as a brick,” Shannon said, a bit of her redheaded temper showing through.
“So you can see why I thought his being a competent investigator was more interesting than his looks,” Gibbs countered, soothing his wife with a practiced touch and a loving look.
“We'll see,” Shannon said, an odd smirk on her lips that Tony couldn't interpret.
Actually, Tony couldn't interpret much of anything from this conversation. He rather felt as though he'd walked into the Twilight Zone. Ok, so he was a good looking guy. He knew that, had for years. But what did that, or his investigative skills, have to do with an invitation to dinner in Virginia with a couple who'd been married going on twenty years?
Option one he didn't like at all. He didn't date married folk of either sex, something he'd been reminding himself forcefully since he spotted the ring on Gibbs' hand. Unfortunately for his libido, that had not been the first thing he noticed about the distinguished older man.
He didn't have a clue what option two was. And wasn't Pat the name of the lunk who was following Gibbs around in Baltimore?
Shannon sauntered back into the house and Gibbs' attention was on flipping the steaks on the grill. Tony was prepared to just sip his beer and wait to actually be addressed again but got distracted when something bumped up against his leg.
“Well, hello there,” he said, crouching down to eye level with the lovely dog that had brushed up against him. He or she had reddish brown fur that was silky soft under his finger tips. “Where did you come from?” he wondered aloud. A creature coming up to his mid thigh shouldn't have been able to sneak up on him like that. “Pretty little thing, though,” he purred as he petted .... ah, her. In fact, she had the most incredible blue eyes pleading up at him.
Tony chuckled and gave her a bit of a noogie. “You have your father's eyes, Kelly,” he informed her. “Does he know how you abuse them to go begging for pets?”
Gibbs laughed and turned to face them. “Sorry, Kells, you've been found out,” he said lightly. “Pat never does seem to know why we have a daughter sometimes and a dog others.”
“Thick as a brick,” Shannon said disapprovingly. “Now, go get dressed. You know the rules for dinner.”
Kelly give Tony another beseeching look, but he shook his head and stood. “Oh, no. I'm not going to disobey your mother on my first visit,” he insisted. Finally she gave him a resigned look before trotting off into the house through the door her mother was holding open.
A moment later, it was just Tony and Gibbs and the steaks in the back yard again. Tony looked curiously at the gray haired federal agent. “So, did I pass?” he asked.
Gibbs laughed. “With flying colors,” he assured the younger man. “Kelly likes to test which of our guests are in the know. Poor Jack doesn't have as much luck. Brown eyes aren't as unusual in a dog.”
“I don't know how I ever made the mistake,” Tony said with a shake of his head. “The bone structure's all wrong once you think about it.”
“But until you think about it, they're just another odd mutt breed,” Gibbs pointed out. “A little wolf, a little German Shepard, a little who knows what. It might be possible to get a dog that actually looks like one.”
“Maybe,” Tony said with a shrug.
That line of conversation was cut off by the return of Kelly, this time looking like an eighteen-year-old young woman in jeans and a tee-shirt. Her hair was redder as a human, though not quite as bright as her mother's, but her eyes were still the same deep blue as her father's. Behind her was a younger boy, around ten, wearing the latest fashion in Power Ranger shirts. His hair was a brighter red, like his mother, and he had her brown eyes.
“You must be Jack,” Tony said politely, offering the younger man his hand. “I'm Tony.”
“I know,” Jack said, his grip firm for his age when he shook Tony's hand. “Dad told us you were coming. He said you did really good on his last case.”
That surprised Tony. He'd rather thought he'd driven the older man to distraction with his jokes and movie references, but then again, he had received an invitation to dinner. Tony shot Gibbs a confused look but was prevented from getting any answers when Shannon appeared in the doorway with a bowl of green salad in one hand, a bowl of fruit salad in the other, and demanded some assistance setting the table.
Dinner was wonderful. The steaks were perfect, the sides delicious, and the conversation light and flowing. Tony learned that Kelly was torn between staying in DC for college and going to the west coast for a change in scenery, that Jack had a crush on two cousins from his mother's old pack in Pennsylvania (they were twins), and that work was spoken of in only general terms at the dinner table. Stories were told about various friends and work mates, which Tony countered with a few cleaner ones of his own. Somehow he found himself volunteering to get Kelly in touch with his frat brother who attended Stanford for grad school as well as swing by Jack's little league game next weekend. His protests that he played basketball and football, not baseball, got him nowhere.
The whirlwind of activity continued into dessert, which was unveiled as a divine chocolate cake with raspberry filling and a chocolate frosting that was probably illegal in at least three states. Gibbs was right, his wife could cook.
Tony's attempts to help with the cleaning up were quickly cut off. He'd been halfway out of his seat when a sharp 'sit' and a glare from Shannon left his ass hitting the bench again before he'd had time to think about it. An angry voice in the back of his head snarled something about bitchy alphas, but for once he ignored that voice that had left him switching police departments so often.
In moments, he found himself staring at an empty table with only Gibbs and a half empty beer for company. Silence filled the back yard, barely broken by the clatter of dishes and young voices in the kitchen.
“Why am I here, Gibbs?” Tony finally asked, not looking at the older man. Instead, he watched his fingers rolling the beer bottle between his hands, the way the brown liquid inside sloshed against the side, the slight layer of foam that tried to form in the waves only to burst as more gas escaped the liquid and the beer got that much flatter.
“You're looking to leave Baltimore,” Gibbs replied.
That got Tony's attention. He looked up, curiously, his green eyes slitted slightly as he tried to read the older man's bland expression.
“I'm looking for a new team,” Gibbs continued.
“What about your partner, Pat?” Tony asked, having a hunch as to the answer.
Gibbs shook his head, a frown crossing his face. “Pat's a good administrator, but he's not half the investigator you are,” he said, catching Tony's eye. “And he's not going to survive another month the way I run my team.”
Tony raised an eyebrow and gave the older man an encouraging look.
“I learned what shifters were when I was in basic,” Gibbs said, surprising the hell out of Tony for saying something about shifters straight out, but even more for implying he wasn't one. “I've been running my teams like a pack ever since, in and out of the Marines. Since I got my own team at NCIS, I've been hoping to find a group who could handle that.”
Tony sucked in a deep breath. “No luck?” he asked.
Gibbs responded with a wry grin and a shake of his head. “I thought Stan had a chance. He knew about shifters even if he wasn't one and having been trained on Capitol Hill he knew how to deal with disparate personalities.” The hopeful light in Gibbs' eyes quickly died. “But he couldn't handle the stress. I just hope life as agent afloat doesn't aggravate his ulcers.”
Tony sucked in another breath of air, this time accompanied by a wince. “Good luck to him,” he said simply. “But what's this to do with me?”
“You want to leave Baltimore. I want to hire you,” Gibbs replied flatly. “You asked earlier if you passed the test. Your reaction to Kelly was a bonus. You passed when you managed to keep up with me in Baltimore for two weeks. You've got skills I'd like to hone. I've got cases I think will keep you from getting bored.”
Tony leaned back, slouching against the empty air behind him as he considered Gibbs' words. “It's not boredom,” he admitted. For the first time in his life, there was an alpha before him that made him want to expose his neck in submission instead of run like hell before he was caught. “I have trouble trusting people in authority.”
“With your background, I can't blame you,” Gibbs replied. “Based on what I could find, you and Shannon could trade some fair childhood father stories.” He paused a moment to let Tony absorb that thought. “Though hers was alpha of the local pack and yours was just a rich SOB.”
Tony snorted. “Same difference,” he snapped. “Still king of all he surveys.”
Gibbs nodded. “Not what I'm looking for, though,” he offered. “I'm the boss, and I expect to be obeyed, but things that don't affect the job are your business. Hell, you've meet Abby.”
Tony had to concede that. The NCIS forensic tech had thrown him for a loop at first glance. He'd never expected to see a full blown goth working for a federal agency, but maybe he'd spent too much time around the FBI. She'd proved highly competent and they'd traded cards at the end of the case and promised to keep in touch. In fact, he'd made plans to go clubbing with her after dinner and probably crash on her couch.
“So, you're offering me a job,” Tony said. It wasn't a question so much as a clarification, but he was feeling off balance enough that it sounded a lot like a question. He still wasn't sure the best option wasn't to run like hell and see if there weren't any openings on the west coast.
“I'm offering you a job,” Gibbs agreed. “But I'm warning you, too. I'm a natural alpha and the second B stands for bastard. Working with me means long hours and running until you collapse. I expect the best from everyone and I don't care how loud I have to yell to get it.”
The urge to run was still there, but in the face of Gibbs' straight forward manner it was fading, much to Tony's consternation. He didn't quite know what to do with an alpha like this, upfront in all things and demanding exactly what Tony would have given him anyway.
“And what will the local packs say about me moving into the area?” Tony asked, trying to suss out a bit more of the local politics. He usually stayed away from the packs, even those that formed in the police departments. He'd been born a lone wolf and had yet to meet an alpha that made him want to change that.
“There's nothing much around here. Just the sniping on the hill that won't ever notice and a few small groups that bonded for comfort. We'd be no different than any other federal sub pack in the alphabet soup.”
Tony rested his chin in his hand, propping his elbow on the table. His yes danced between Gibbs' face and the view through the window behind him, the view of the brightly lit kitchen and the happy family inside. “I'd have to accept you as my alpha,” he said hesitantly. “Not sure I want to take that step.”
“Us,” Gibbs replied, his head turning to catch sight of Shannon inside. “And it would make things easier, but you could try without for a bit, see if it works.” He sounded nonchalant, like he didn't really care how it turned out, but Tony could see the tension in his shoulders and the worried crinkle at the corner of his eyes. He wanted this.
And Tony was amazed to realize he wanted this too. He'd never wanted an alpha, rebelling against his domineering father from a young age. He'd managed to get himself thrown out and disowned to escape being ruled and had run from two police departments when he feared the pack mentality was closing in. He was on the edge of running from a third, so what was he doing considering running to a pack?
Except ... this alpha was offering more than a job. He'd already shown he trusted Tony with his family, actively encouraging the younger shifter to join in family events and keep coming back. He was overbearing on the job, but only in pursuit of the truth. Tony had enjoyed working Gibbs in Baltimore, barked orders, smacks to the back of the head, and all. It had been exhilarating, a roller coaster ride he'd been sorry to see end.
“Who's your second?” Tony asked pointedly.
“Technically, Pat,” Gibbs spat, but there was a twinkle in his eye that told Tony the role was within his reach.
“What if I want my own team someday?” Tony posited, trying to sort out the intricacies of sub packs and agency packs.
“Prove you deserve it and mine will be your first recommendation,” Gibbs offered. “Just remember I have seniority if we should have to work together.”
“Might be able to live with that,” Tony admitted. He looked Gibbs in the eye for a minute, those blue eyes that were so hard, so focused, and yet so full of love for his family. Kelly had her father's eyes, but they weren't as world weary yet, and Tony hoped they never would be. He dropped his gaze to the table and twisted his head to expose his neck a little more. “Think I'd like to find out,” he said.
He didn't see Gibbs grin, what with his eyes looking at the table, but he did see the arm that crossed his field of vision, hand outstretched until it rested on his shoulder, the callused thumb stroking the exposed curve of his throat. Wafting up from the skin, Tony caught hints of the smell of coffee and sawdust, gun oil and fur, steaks and fresh mown grass. He wondered where the sawdust came from, remembering the scent as surrounding the older man in Baltimore too.
“Welcome, Tony,” Gibbs said softly. “I'll have the paperwork ready when you report to HQ on Monday.”
Tony grinned as he raised his eyes to meet Gibbs' again. “Don't waste any time, do you?” he teased.
“Not if I can help it,” Gibbs agreed.
“I maintain the right to walk if want to,” Tony said pointedly even as he leaned slightly into Gibbs' touch.
“I'll just have to make sure you don't want to,” Gibbs countered, his fingers tightening their grip for a moment before he released Tony and retrieving his arm. “Now, I think you've got enough time for a tour of the house before I have to send you to meet Abby.”
“She told you?” Tony asked, startled.
Gibbs grinned. “Just like I told her I was trying to recruit you,” he countered. “We're pack.”
“So ... so, she knows ... about,” Tony stuttered, waving a hand towards the house and the people within.
“She caught us out a few years back, and I've never regretted bringing her in,” Gibbs said. Standing, he offered Tony a hand up. “Now, come. I want to show off my hobby. Do you know anything about carpentry?”
Tony accepted his alpha's hand, letting himself be pulled to his feet and into the house. But he had no idea what Gibbs was going to show him in the basement.