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Note: All thanks to Kya, who came up with the original plot bunny of NCIS as a wolf pack!!
Summary: In an AU where shapeshifters exist, Gibbs forms up his new team in the wake Stan Burley's departure.
Stan was gone and he wasn't coming back. There was no getting around that. He'd driven away the one person who had truly understood him.
Jethro snorted derisively at the mental melodrama. Stan knew him exceptionally well, took a lot of his faults without complaining, but he wasn't the only one who understood him. He was one of the four people who truly understood him, to be specific. Ducky was still there, planted forever in his morgue, and Gerald was there with him. Neither man was going anywhere, which was a comfort of sorts. It didn't change the fact that Jethro was alone again, though, with no one to work with in the field, aside from Viv. He was a pack of three, which wasn't a pack, it was a triad, without the sex.
Grinning wolfishly to himself, Jethro thought, Not that it's a bad idea, but Ducky's a little too possessive of Gerald for me to suggest that and still come out with my...goods...intact.
The dark amusement was gone as quickly as it had arrived and he scowled at the computer monitor. It was mocking him, no doubt about it. He could call Abby to fix it, but that was seriously starting to grate on his nerves. Not that she ever held his anti-technology attitude against him, not really, but it was becoming a point of honor that he was losing. His knowledge base was shrinking as the world got faster and smarter.
Jethro knew that technology would never truly replace human ingenuity and instinct, which he had in greater measure than most, but it was starting to outpace him for sure. Growling softly at the offending machine, he stood and strode across the NCIS office, ignoring everyone as they jumped out of his way.
It didn't take long to get to Director Morrow's office and, once there, he only had a short wait to get in to see the older man.
"Have you decided?" Morrow questioned, getting right into it.
Nodding, Jethro answered, "I'm going to start adding to the team. Recruit personally. It has to be who I say, Tom. I don't care what their background might be. If I think they're going to work well in the team, they stay."
Morrow's lips quirked. "Have I ever not given you enough rope to hang yourself with?"
A brief grin flashed across Jethro's face as he replied, "Not yet."
"Well, I'm not going to start now. Just try not to step on too many toes when you gather your people, okay?"
"I'll try, Sir."
Morrow grunted, unconvinced, and waved him off.
Smirking faintly, Jethro headed for the door. It was time to get started on the next part of his life. One without Stan, but he would have to do the best he could with that. He'd been alone for most of his adult life, barring a few unfortunate marriages, so it wasn't like he didn't have the practice.
* * * *
Tony frowned at the sensation of being watched again and looked around the bullpen. There wasn't anyone there who shouldn't be, though, and all the perps were handcuffed properly, so no danger there. For the last few days he'd had the worst feeling that someone was keeping him under surveillance, but he'd never been able to catch anyone in the act. And he'd always been able to do that.
His nose twitched, catching the scent of someone unfamiliar...and yet...too familiar, though that made no sense whatsoever. Completely alert, Tony stood from his desk and strode towards the main entrance into homicide just as a man in his early fifties came walking in, and stopped abruptly. Piercing blue eyes met his from a distance of no less than ten meters, and yet Tony knew the man saw him with perfect clarity.
"Yo, DiNozzo, move!"
Startled, Tony jerked away from the impending danger of being run over by a mail cart. The punk who delivered their mail was always trying to catch him off guard and had just succeeded for the first time. Glowering at him, Tony snapped, "Watch where the hell you're going!"
The rookie sneered and ignored him, pushing the cart towards the other end of the room.
And then he wasn't alone anymore. The stranger was right beside him, crowding his personal space like it didn't even exist, and Tony instinctively hunched lower, submissive to the newcomer. His body tightened in anticipation and tension in equal parts, and he forced himself to straighten to his full height, irritated that he'd let the other intimidate him, however briefly. Keeping his eyes on the pair staring back at him fearlessly was another matter, though, and he dropped contact within a few moments, muttering, "Can I help you?"
A warm chuckle filled the air between them and Tony shivered as the man introduced himself as, "Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs. I'm recruiting for NCIS and I want you...on my team, DiNozzo."
Tony thought, shivering as he was inundated by the man's delicious scent of arousal. And while most of him wanted to just bare his neck and offer himself on a silver platter, his pride, which had always gotten him into far too much trouble, snapped, "I have a job."
"And you're damn good at it," Gibbs agreed. "That's why I want you on my team...to start with."
Tony smirked arrogantly. "You're gonna have to give me more than just a compliment to get me to change jobs. I like it here."
Arching a silvered eyebrow, Gibbs observed, "Really? Then your resume wasn't the one that Agent Fournelle from the FBI was looking at just last week?"
Grinning, as if knowing that he'd won, Gibbs said equably, "True enough. So. How about you treat me to lunch and I'll tell you why working for me will be better than working here?"
Tony snorted. "Aside from that perks of paying for your meals, you mean?"
* * * *
They never actually got to lunch after leaving the PD, instead winding up in a frantic heap together in Tony's car. All it had taken was one heated look too many from Gibbs and the brush of his fingers across the back of Tony's neck. In such an enclosed space, filled with the heady, thrilling scent of the other man, Tony didn't stand a chance.
Pulling off into a little used rest area off the highway, Tony set the brake and launched himself onto Gibbs, who caught him easily. Their mouths met in a hard, hungry kiss and it wasn't more than a few seconds before Tony found himself pushed back with Gibbs on top, devouring him. Whimpering in need, knowing instinctively that this was the man whom he'd been searching for, for so long, Tony's mouth opened further.
Gibbs growled in approval just before breaking the kiss to suck on his throat. One hand reached down and undid Tony's pants, reaching inside and squeezing his cock. Yelping in surprised lust, Tony thrust rapidly into the tight grip and came unexpectedly when Gibbs bit down too hard on his throat, almost breaking the skin.
Panting, Tony lay collapsed against the door, shuddering through the aftershocks of the encounter. Gibbs nuzzled his throat, tongue easing along the edge of the bruise that Tony could already feel forming. Tony pulled himself together enough to gasp, "I don't normally have sex with prospective employers, just so you know."
Gibbs chuckled and answered, "I didn't think so."
Belatedly realizing that the other man hadn't gotten any relief, Tony moved to do so, but Gibbs pulled back, waving him off. Frowning, Tony asked, "You sure?"
"Yeah, thanks. We can take care of this later tonight when we're not on the job," Gibbs replied, adjusting himself with a deep, controlling breath.
Tony shivered at the promise inherent in that piercing gaze and said, "You're awfully sure that I'm going to sign up."
Smirking with his own brand of arrogance, Gibbs assured him, "It has nothing to do with what just happened, or what's going to happen, don't worry."
"Oh yeah? What's it to do with?" Tony challenged, abruptly irritated with the other man's attitude.
Gibbs was serious as he explained, "You're going to get a lot more of a challenge at NCIS than you do at Baltimore homicide. The work is demanding, the hours unending, and the pay stinks, but you get to make a real difference in protecting the people who protect this country. Is that honestly something you would turn down?"
Tony had to admit that it all rang true. Scowling, he warned, "Just don't think that I put out on a regular basis. You're my boss, not my lover."
With just the barest hint of a grin, Gibbs answered easily, "Absolutely."
* * * *
Jethro moaned as his cock sank deeper into Tony's body, only coming to a stop when he was all the way in. They'd made it all the way to NCIS before he'd succumbed to the incredible pheromones that the younger man had been giving off the whole ride over. It had been different from normal arousal, though, something that he'd never before scented. It had been all Jethro could do not to bend Tony over the hood of his own car and fuck him, bond with him, then and there in public.
Once through security, he'd steered Tony towards the nearest men's room, pushed him inside, locking the door. A broad grin had been Tony's response to that action, reassuring Jethro that the not-quite agent was all right with the situation.
There had been a mock-battle for dominance during the long, wet kiss before Tony had submitted with a moan. They'd shoved aside clothes amidst the frantic kissing and petting until they were both bare from the waist down and then Jethro had spun Tony over a sink. He'd grimaced, knowing that soap wasn't exactly the best lube, but Tony had literally growled his impatience and so Jethro had used what was close to hand.
And now he was deep in the other man's body, wrapped around Tony like a second skin, scenting his sweat and arousal and growing even harder.
"Fuck, Boss, so good," Tony groaned, clenching and unclenching around his cock.
Shivering at the sensation, Jethro started moving, desire and need combining with the instinct to make this man his, as quickly as possible. He needed Tony as his lover and pack-mate, his beta, guiding and leading the rest of the team when he wasn't available. His urgency must have transmitted to Tony, because the younger man thrust back on him, gasping in need.
It was a quick, frenzied affair, the two of them moving in perfect sync. Once Jethro gripped Tony's hard, leaking erection and started stroking, things went even faster. Tony's groan of release was loud, barely muffled by the fist shoved into his mouth as a makeshift gag. The sudden force holding his cock fast pushed Jethro over the edge and he humped rapidly into Tony, spilling copiously into the tight hole.
His harsh breathing echoed in his ears as he lay plastered over Tony's broad back, forehead pressed to the damp skin on the back of Tony's neck.
Chuckling weakly, Tony observed, "I may be easy, but I'm not cheap, Boss. This job's got hazard pay, right?"
Jethro laughed and licked the flat of his tongue over the bruise he'd inflicted in the car, thrilling at the shudder it provoked in his new lover. He bit Tony's earlobe and answered, "Not for this, it doesn't. Careful now, I'm pulling out."
Tony hissed in discomfort and didn't move as Jethro cleaned him up, humming appreciatively at the care he was given. When they were both decent again, Jethro smirked in satisfaction, smelling his scent all over Tony. Ducky and Gerald would know right away how he felt about Tony, and treat him appropriately. Tony might have some questions about where everyone in the pack fit in at first, but that wouldn't last too long.
Jethro wasn't one for explanations, but he knew Ducky and Abby were.
* * * *
"What on earth are you doing?" Ducky demanded, glancing up at the oddly aggressive noise that Gerald had made. Odd simply for the fact that Gerald was the least aggressive person Ducky had ever met. And that included Abby.
Ducky knew perfectly well that Gerald could hear him, even with headphones on, but his lover continued to ignore him, instead grimacing at the computer on Ducky's desk, across the morgue. Sighing, Ducky walked over to the young man and tugged the earphones off with, "You do realize that constant exposure to vibrations at high density like this is likely to have a long term, deleterious effect on your inner ear, don't you? Even with ears like ours."
Gerald gave him an innocent look and countered, "They don't have constant exposure."
Frowning to show how unimpressed he was with the 'little boy lost,' routine, though really, Gerald had it down with distressing accuracy, Ducky was about to begin a lecture on the delicate balance maintained by the inner ear when the door to the morgue opened. In walked Jethro with the young man he'd been going to recruit. Ducky's nose twitched as he smelled just how successful the recruitment had gone and he was hard pressed not to smile in relief.
He hadn't been all that certain another beta would be found at all, let alone so soon. After Stan had left, the life had gone right out of Jethro and nothing that he or Gerald had done, had tempted the ex-marine in the least. He'd been losing weight at an alarming rate, despite the food they'd managed to shove down his throat. Ducky had known some of their kind to literally pine away when deserted by their mates. One of the main reasons pairings with humans were rarely encouraged; humans were too fickle in their affections, by and large.
Looking at Jethro now, however, Ducky could see that was a thing of the past. The blue eyes were bright again, the step quick and the commanding air back in full force.
"Dr. Donald Mallard, Gerald Jackson, this is Detective, soon-to-be Special Agent, Anthony DiNozzo," Jethro introduced.
There were handshakes all around and Ducky ordered, "Call my Ducky, everyone does."
Tony grinned, an easy, warm smile that reached all the way to his changeable eyes, and exclaimed, "Hey! Mallard...Ducky...I get it!"
"It's not that much of a stumper, DiNozzo," Jethro commented dryly.
Making a face at the older man, Tony said to Ducky, "Great to meet you."
"You as well, my boy," Ducky replied, echoing the smile. "I was starting to think that Gerald was the last young one of our kind in the entire state."
Tony frowned a bit and asked, "'Our kind?'"
Ducky wondered, aghast. Sticking to a safe bet, Ducky gestured towards Tony's expensive tie and answered mildly, "Men with good taste."
Meeting Jethro's bemused gaze, and finding no help there, Ducky was more than relieved when Gerald spoke up with, "He likes to think that the clothes make the man. He's practically revamped my entire wardrobe."
"Oh but they do, dear boy, they do," Ducky insisted. "Especially for someone with ambition."
Gerald quirked an eyebrow at him.
"Like young, Mr. DiNozzo here, not yourself, Gerald," Ducky finished fondly.
"I hate to interrupt the fashion advice, but we have paperwork," Jethro announced.
Ducky looked back at Jethro and said pointedly, "Be sure and stop in on Abby, on your way."
With only a minor grimace, Jethro nodded. "We will, Duck. See ya, Gerald."
"Nice to meet you," Tony said, smiling at Ducky and Gerald before following Jethro out of the morgue.
Gazing at his lover, Ducky observed, "That young man is going to have an exceptionally difficult Change. I can't believe, at his age, that he hasn't already..."
Gerald nodded soberly when Ducky's voice trailed off.
* * * *
"So you grew up in Rhode Island, went to prep school, then college, did some sports, total jock, right?" Abby guessed.
Tony flashed her a flirtatious grin and leaned on the counter to answer, "Maybe a little."
"Uh huh. I'll add ladies' man to the list, too," Abby observed, grinning back at him. "But you're the 'top of the class,' sort, too. I'll bet...what...3.9 GPA?"
Surprised, Tony confirmed, "Yeah. How'd you know?"
Coming up behind him, Gibbs stated, "Personnel records, DiNozzo. Abby's the hacker around here. Soon as I told her who I was recruiting, she checked you out."
Tony snorted, mentally hitting himself in the forehead. And then Gibbs did it for him, smacking him upside the back of his head.
"Ow!" Tony yelped, glaring at the other man. "What was that for?"
"Being an easy mark," Gibbs replied, unruffled.
Abby laughed out loud and said, "Here's your info, Bossman."
"Thanks, Abs," Gibbs replied, taking the folder. "Come on, DiNozzo, let's get to HR."
Still irritated with the physical rebuke, mostly, Tony didn't protest as he followed Gibbs out of the lab and into the hall. It was pretty crowded, being only mid-afternoon, with uniformed men and women, as well as those in civilian gear. A real head-trip, that he was going to be employed by the military after all the crap he went through making sure no one was in a position to tell him how to live his life.
Which reminded him...
"What about that whole, 'don't ask, don't tell,' thing?"
Gibbs shrugged. "Are you in the military that I don't know about, DiNozzo?"
"Then who you fuck is your business."
Tony brightened at that, and said, "What about the whole supervisor/subordinate thing?"
Stopping on a dime, Gibbs pushed him into a conference room and shut the door behind him. Crowding Tony against the wall, he said quietly, "Here's how it goes, DiNozzo. I run my team, how I see fit. If you and I are in a better than just working relationship, it's no one's business, so long as we get the job done. And we will get the job done. No screwing around on the job. No special treatment. Nothing will happen between us the moment we're on the clock that would make anyone think we aren't doing our job, and our duty, to the best of our ability. Is all of that clear?"
Tony felt a little like a bug on a pin with the full force of that blue gaze on him, but didn't back down a bit. "Got it, Boss."
Gibbs' lips almost twitched into a smile as he replied, "Good. Now let's go."
Happily following the other man back into the hall, Tony kept close as he asked, "So who else is on the team?"
"Long as it doesn't interfere."
Nodding, completely expecting that, Tony asked, "So how long have you been doing this?"
"You were a marine, right?"
"So, when did you..."
Tony nearly walked right into Gibbs when the other man stopped short again and swallowed the rest of his questions back at the hard look on Gibbs' face.
"Get this clear, DiNozzo," Gibbs warned softly. "This is not a game of 20 Questions. If I tell you something about myself, it will be on my timetable, no matter what else we might share."
Swallowing heavily at the icy glint to the pale eyes, Tony ducked his head slightly and whispered, "Got it, Boss."
When Gibbs started walking again, Tony breathed out a sigh of relief that his head was still attached.
So okay. He's not big on the whole 'sharing of self' thing. That's cool. I can wear him down. I doubt he's met anyone as persistent as me before.
And with that pleased thought, Tony hurried after his new boss.
* * * *
The paperwork went fairly quickly, but that was due more to the stony glare Jethro maintained throughout the formal applicant process, than any kind of efficiency on the part of HR. The woman there eyed him nervously while thrusting papers at Tony as soon as he finished filling out any given form. Tony was rubbing his palm by the end of it, suffering writer's cramp.
Once done there, Jethro decided it was time for a late lunch, wanting to figure out if Tony really didn't know what he was, or if he'd just been giving Ducky a hard time. He was pretty sure, unfortunately, that it was the former.
Settled in a back booth at a favorite deli with their subs and sodas, Jethro waited until they were both about halfway done before asking, "You have a big, extended family?"
Tony's gaze narrowed at him, as if trying to determine why he could go the 20 Questions route, but Tony couldn't. He finally offered a faint shrug, probably figuring that superior officers were the same the world over... 'Do as I say, not as I do,' and answered, "Not really. My dad's a pretty successful businessman, which I'm sure you knew, and my Mom's a housewife. Well, relatively speaking. Not like she ever did any real housework."
"So no cousins or aunts and uncles to hang out with, while your Dad was away and your Mom was busy with the local country club," Jethro observed.
Flashing him a wry grin, Tony assured him, "You don't have to worry, Gibbs, I'm over all those issues. I won't suddenly break down because my parents were never there for me."
The sad part was, Jethro absolutely believed him about the parents never being there for him. Which, in turn, confirmed that Tony had no idea of his heritage. Maybe his parents didn't even know; it had been known to skip generations before. If either parent were a single child and their parent had never told them...well, that would explain Tony's ignorance of the whole thing. He probably didn't even think anything of the fact that his senses were so much sharper than everyone else's.
Of course, that brought up the fact that Tony hadn't really known what he'd been doing when they'd mated earlier. Either time, really. Did that make it not a true mating? Would he again be left high and dry? Forcing those painful thoughts aside, Jethro nodded in response to Tony's words, as if that was what he'd been fishing for. "Glad to hear it, DiNozzo. Finish up. I've got some things to do back at the office."
Tony wolfed down the rest of his sub with an amazing capacity for shoving a great deal in, all at once. Jethro shifted uncomfortably as he thought about what else Tony could take down his throat with sufficient ease.
Grinning, as if knowing exactly what Jethro was thinking, Tony swallowed deliberately and then took a long drink from his soda. "So. Boss. Anything you want me to take care of before we get back to the office?"
Firmly keeping himself under control, needing to talk to Ducky about the whole situation, Jethro growled, "Not right now, DiNozzo. You keep pushing me, though, and you're gonna be in big trouble tonight."
"Now there's a threat. Not," Tony replied, smirking.
Snorting, Jethro stood and headed for the exit, knowing that the other man would follow.
* * * *
Back at NCIS, Tony found himself introduced to his other new coworker, Viv, and found that he liked her. She seemed competent and nice, if a little too driven, probably apt to succumb to burnout in about six months. Maybe sooner, if they had a couple of big cases. Gibbs took off to have some kind of conference with Ducky, so he was left in Viv's care. She showed him where all the office stuff was, the essentials, like coffee.
"And whatever you do, do not touch the coffee in that pot," she warned him. "It's Gibbs' private pot and unless you want to burn a hole in your stomach on contact, you'll avoid it like the plague."
He grinned. "It can't be that bad."
"You don't believe me? Try it."
Tony poured himself a cup and added his usual amount of sugar and cream. He brought it up cautiously to sniff, but it still smelled like really strong coffee. Humming thoughtfully, he added some more sugar, stirred it and took a sip.
"Good coffee, huh, DiNozzo?" Gibbs asked from behind.
Caught just as he was about to spit the foul brew out into the sink, Tony forced a sickly smile and swallowed, shuddering when the liquid nitrogen disguised as coffee ate its way down his esophagus. Setting the cup on the counter where he could conveniently forget it on the way out, Tony croaked, "It's perfect."
Gibbs grinned and agreed, "I think so."
Tony watched in horror as Gibbs poured himself a cup and drank from it...black. Queasy, hand to his stomach, he followed the other two agents out of the break room and aimed for his desk, wondering if he could run to the bathroom and drink down a gallon of gross tap water to get the taste from his mouth.
Once they were all there, Gibbs announced, "We've got a case."
Tony straightened in anticipation.
* * * *
Limping painfully from the infirmary to where Gibbs and Viv waited a short distance away at the car, Tony took his time. He'd refused the crutch the medic had tried to press on him, not wanting to appear weak in front of Gibbs, but knew he really should have taken it. His entire leg throbbed at every joint from where he'd landed on it after being thrown out a two-story window by their perp.
Lt. Colson, who was in the infirmary with a concussion that Tony had given him with the help of a dental tray, would not be attacking any more female recruits. Not anytime soon, anyhow.
"It's about time, DiNozzo," Gibbs greeted, impatient.
Viv gave him a worried look and asked, "Don't you need crutches or something?"
Offering them both a thin smile, he said, "I'm fine. Just need to take it slow and soak later."
"You sure?" Viv pressed.
Relaxing a little at her honest concern, Tony nodded. "Thanks, Viv. I'll be fine."
"I'll drive you home, DiNozzo. I doubt you'll want to drive with that leg."
Gibbs' brusque offer did nothing to bolster Tony's confidence about what had happened. Was he going to be fired for using too much force? Reprimanded? Suspended? What did the military view as too much force, anyhow?
The drive back to NCIS, where they dropped off Viv, was painfully quiet; the ride to his apartment agonizingly so. It was to Tony's great surprise that Gibbs was at his door to help him out, once they were parked in his spot.
"Come on, Tony, I know you're hurting a lot more than you're letting on. Let me help you," Gibbs said quietly.
Sighing, Tony had to accept the offer, not sure he could make it to his apartment on his own, anyhow. The drugs had definitely kicked in and, while helping with the pain, were sure to mess with his balance. It took several minutes to get there, but he was finally ensconced on his bed. Groaning, Tony said, "I forgot the prescription needs to get filled."
Gibbs sat on the edge of the bed and combed his fingers through Tony's hair. "I'll take care of it. You okay for now while I go?"
"Yeah," Tony confirmed, closing his eyes to better enjoy the comforting sensation. "S'nice. Thanks."
"No problem, Tony. Get some sleep."
Which Tony didn't remember doing, except that he woke up to a dull throb all up and down his leg some time later and groaned in pain.
It seemed only seconds later that Gibbs was there, glass of water and two pills in his hand, ordering, "Take these."
Sighing, Tony pushed up enough to take the medicine, then collapsed back on the bed. Glancing up at the other man, Tony admitted, "I'm surprised you're here."
"Why?" Gibbs asked, sitting on the bed again.
Tony shrugged. "I don't know. You don't seem the mothering type."
With a snort, Gibbs informed him, "When one of my people gets tossed out a two-story window, I become the mothering-type, DiNozzo. Especially since...you're more than just one of my people."
Sensing how difficult that had been for Gibbs to say, Tony smiled and replied, "Cool."
Gibbs laughed. "Cool?"
"Yeah, definitely cool," Tony confirmed sleepily, as the drugs began to kick in. "I haven't had anyone to mother me in forever. Maybe never. My mother wasn't exactly the nourishing type."
Hesitating briefly, Gibbs asked, "Did you ever know your grandparents, Tony?"
"Ever had the feeling that you were...different...from other people? Because of your sharpened senses, I mean."
Wondering vaguely how Gibbs knew about that, then putting it down to general Gibbs-all-knowingness, Tony shook his head and said, "Just figured it was because of the whole...you know...good gene thing."
Gibbs chuckled. "You've definitely got good genes, Tony. Get some sleep. We'll talk more in the morning."
"Don't hafta sleep on the sofa," Tony offered, yawning and patting the bed.
Smiling down at him, Gibbs ran his fingers through Tony's hair again and said, "I wasn't planning to, it's just not time for me to sleep yet. Night, Tony."
This time, Tony remembered drifting into sleep, the comforting feel of strong fingers stroking through his hair.
* * * *
Ducky looked at the nervous young man before him and gave his best reassuring smile as he said, "You're not in trouble, Tony. I just wanted to talk to you about certain things and thought that the best way to do so, was in a social setting. We could go to NCIS if you like, but my sofa is far more comfortable than the chairs there."
That didn't relax Tony very much as he replied, "Okay. I mean, sure."
He and Jethro had argued over who was best qualified to tell Tony about his unique heritage, but Ducky had come out the winner. Mostly due to the bullying he'd given his former protégé, but also because he had the scientific background to thoroughly explain things to their newest pack member. Aside from which, Ducky could clearly picture Jethro baldly stating, 'You're a werewolf, DiNozzo, get used to it.' which left Ducky in a state of cold dread.
Because, technically, they weren't werewolves.
"I'm sure you've realized by now that our little team doesn't, well, it doesn't operate within the normal parameters of NCIS," Ducky began. "That we're allowed a great deal of leeway within the hierarchical structure in which we function."
Tony blinked at him.
"We get a lot of slack," Gerald translated.
Ducky flashed his lover a grateful look and agreed, "Quite, quite. The reason for that is, predominantly, because Gibbs' team has always gotten results and done so very quickly. But there's another reason, as well."
"Which is?" Tony asked, curious.
"Director Morrow is like us," Ducky said.
Tony frowned. "What do you mean?"
"You and I, Gerald, Jethro, and Director Morrow, all have...special abilities, heightened senses, to a great degree," Ducky explained. "This has to do with our unique heritage as one of the...well, I supposed there's no other way to say this...Anthony, my boy, you're a shape-shifter. We all are. The only form that we can change into, however, aside from the human one which dominates, is that of a wolf. We are the reasons that the werewolf legend exists, though of course, there's a lot of fallacy in those legends.
"Our species name is Homo Lupus, which means, literally translated, 'wolf people.' We originate, way back when, from
, along with everyone else. I suspect that, in the beginning, there was, somehow, a successful cross breeding between wolf and human, though it does tend to boggle the mind, doesn't it? Whether the first of us came from a wolf or human mother, doesn't really matter. What matters is that over the centuries, we have evolved alongside mankind, keeping our true natures hidden. The Burning Times are a fairly mild example of what happens to those who were different, back then," Ducky finished.
For a long moment, Tony's gaze flickered between Gerald and Ducky, an impassive, unreadable expression in place. Then he laughed and wagged a finger at them. "Good one, guys! This is some kind of NCIS hazing thing, right? Except instead of physical danger, you do the British thing and mess with my head."
Oh dear, Ducky thought. This isn't going well.
Glancing at Gerald, he sighed and nodded to his lover, before looking back at Tony and saying, "Gerald is going to give you a little demonstration. I would do it, but I'm afraid that changing takes more out of me than I like to admit."
Tony gave the black man a wary look as Gerald stood and moved into the center of the living room. There was a shimmer as the big man dropped to his knees, clouding the actual transformation from human to wolf. It was done in seconds and, in Gerald's place, stood a large, black wolf with brown eyes. Ducky stood and walked over to his mate, rubbing his fingers in Gerald's ear until his jaw dropped in a wolf's approximation of a grin.
Shock was the clearest emotion on Tony's face as he just sat in his spot on the sofa and stared at them. Shock, but no disgust or horror, which Ducky took as a personal boon. If the boy had had phobias regarding wolves, there would have been serious trouble.
Finally regaining his voice, Tony asked, "H-how many of us?"
Ducky shrugged and answered, "It works out to about one in fifty-eight overall for Caucasians, less for other ethnicities, but since we all tend to group together, concentrations run higher. I can get you specific numbers, of course, if you wish."
"And, and, and I can do that?" Tony squeaked.
Smiling at the incredulous tone, Ducky nodded and confirmed, "You can. Or, you will, with proper training."
"But, but how does it happen? And why? What about the full moon thing? I've had the occasional urge to howl at it, but I was usually drunk at the time. And do we need to worry about silver bullets? I have a mild allergy to silver, but nothing fatal that I know about. What about..."
"Tony!" Ducky interrupted, laughing softly. "Give me a chance to answer before moving on to the next question, all right, my lad?"
Abashed, Tony nodded, then asked, "Uh, is he, comfortable like that?"
"More so than in human form, actually," Ducky said fondly, returning to his seat. "Gerald grew up in a pack and spent most of his childhood in the back woods being home schooled with his siblings and cousins. They changed at will and with hardly any trouble at all. As opposed to myself and Gibbs, who were raised in the city by parents who were also shape-shifters, but a lot more strict about letting us actually change. Certainly not for long periods of time. Actually, I think Gerald enjoys the lupine form simply because he doesn't have to make conversation that way."
Gerald chuffed his opinion of that as he settled on the sofa beside Ducky, laying his head on the older man's lap.
Smiling down at his lover, Ducky amended, "There's also my pet theory that Gerald simply enjoys the more plentiful contact that being in this form gives him. So. Ask away, Tony. What would you like to know?"
"Is it magic?"
Ducky was startled by the question. "Why would you think that?"
"Well, I couldn't really see what was going on, it was more like some kind of 'poof, you're a wolf,' thing," Tony explained.
Smiling at the reply, Ducky said, "I assure you that it's all perfectly natural. As Gerald can attest, I have done many tests on my own, regarding Lupin physiology..."
Gerald interrupted with a half-growl, but Ducky ignored him and continued, "...and have tracked the entire Change, from start to finish. That sheen you see, well, I'm not entirely sure what makes it up, but Abby has theorized that it's an electromagnetic field, generated by the Change. Gerald, unfortunately, has refused to participate in further tests so unless you'd like to volunteer..."
"Ah, no. Thanks, Duck," Tony said hastily. "What about silver bullets?"
"I imagine they would kill you just as well as regular ones," Ducky replied, dryly.
Tony snorted. "Okay. So we're not immortal then."
Sad, Ducky confirmed, "Not by a long shot. Though our life expectancy is a great deal higher than that of a normal human. I, for instance, am actually eighty-six years old, as opposed to the sixty-two listed in my employment records."
Tony's jaw dropped. "Damn, Ducky, you look great for your age!"
"Yes, well, that's liable to become a problem as record-keeping continues to get more and more intrusive," Ducky sighed.
Thoughtful, Tony admitted, "I didn't think of that. So wait, you said Abby, but, she's not one of us, right?"
Ducky shook his head. "No, not at all. Abby is a dear, sweet girl who's a tad bit too curious and smart for her own good. As well, her hobbies tend towards the...unusual...side of life. She figured out Gerald and myself almost right away. Gibbs took longer and she still doesn't know about Director Morrow, which we will keep that way."
"Don't you trust her?"
"What she doesn't know, she can't betray," Ducky said simply. "If the worst happens, we'll need people with power to help those who have none."
Tony chewed that over for a few minutes, then asked, "Did Gibbs pick me just because I'm one of you? Us. Um, you know."
Ducky had been waiting for that question. "Gibbs wouldn't have anyone on his team who couldn't meet his excruciatingly exacting standards. There is, however, another factor involved now."
"What's that?" Tony asked, wary.
"You and he are...well...mated."
Tony blinked at him a few times before replying, "A few times, yeah. Why's it any of your business?"
"Well, it's pack business, technically, since he's the alpha and you're his beta," Ducky began. "But you don't quite understand what this means. And really, you can't fault Gibbs too much, since he didn't realize that you didn't know what you were doing."
Frowning, Tony demanded, "What did I do?"
"You were putting off a special pheromone that told Gibbs you wanted to be his mate, that you not only found him attractive, but that he was, essentially, your ideal mate. And Gibbs took you up on that, making you his mate and his beta."
"And what does that mean?" Tony questioned in a deceptively calm voice.
If it weren't for Ducky's extra keen sense of smell, he would never have seen through the mask of Tony's neutral expression, wouldn't have known how close the other was to panicking. "Easy, my boy, everything's okay. You haven't been changed or anything against your will, relax. All this means is that you're in charge of the pack when Gibbs is away, or possibly incapacitated. Well, and that...you're his mate."
Tony jumped to his feet and demanded, "That's like a lifetime thing, though, right? Don't wolves mate for life? I'm not ready to settle down! I can barely even balance my own checkbook, let alone move in with someone and be their one and only!"
"Tony, Tony, take it easy!" Ducky ordered firmly. "I can assure you that Gibbs himself is not one to jump in the saddle again. He's been bitterly divorced three times and just gotten over a very bad break."
Of course, Ducky wasn't about to mention that those had all been with human partners, which weren't as likely to go the distance. Not that it didn't happen, it was just rare. And since Jethro had never trusted his wives, or Stan, enough to tell them the truth about himself, Ducky had known they weren't going to last at the outset. Tony, on the other hand, was exactly what Jethro needed; witty and kind, a smart-aleck, competent, intelligent...all things that Jethro wanted in a true mate.
His words seemed to calm Tony down, and Ducky sighed in relief, continuing, "You will have to work out the particulars with Jethro, but I'm sure that all he has in mind is a little...comfort...between friends."
It was a good thing he didn't believe lying for a good cause was sinful.
Tony sat back down, taking a breath. "All right. Okay. So. What else?"
"Well, there isn't much left to say," Ducky replied. "Gerald will work with you on the mechanics of a Change, since he's the best qualified. Before you actually try it out, though, I want either myself or Gibbs with you. It's liable to be a difficult maneuver, since you've gotten this old and never done it before. Aside from that, you're life doesn't really change."
Tony stared at him suspiciously for a long moment, then seemed to decide to trust him and relaxed. Gerald hopped off the sofa and walked over to him, looking up at him with his tongue lolling out. After a brief hesitation, Tony grinned and reached out to pet him.
* * * *
Viv didn't last any longer at NCIS than it took for the dust to settle after her screw-up on the docks with the terrorists. Tony was sorry to see her go, but knew that ultimately, she'd be happier somewhere else. It was almost as if she could sense that she was the only 'normal' human in the whole group. Well, aside from Abby, but Abby loved the whole thing. She'd been trying to persuade Tony to let her test his first Change for weeks, but he'd held firm.
He was getting better at recognizing those of their kind, too, but still had to admit that most of his clues came from Gibbs. Like when they were at JAG. The way Gibbs and Rabb had been going at it had definitely been a sign. Tony was pretty sure that Admiral Chegwidden was the only one beside Ducky that Gibbs had ever deferred to in an investigation, even if it had been in a sneaky way. He was still trying to figure out if Chegwidden was an Alpha and Rabb his beta, or if Rabb was the only one of their kind there, and extra protective of Chegwidden because of it.
Looking up at Gibbs' entrance, he grinned and greeted, "Morning, Boss."
Gibbs grunted on his way to the break room for his coffee, and Tony grinned. Ducky hadn't, strictly, been right when he'd said that nothing would change in his life. Gibbs was a phenomenal lover and an incredible boss, someone he'd be willing to follow down into hell. He was, essentially, the leader that Tony had been looking for, for so long.
And maybe his ideal mate, as Ducky had said a few weeks before. But it wasn't exactly something that he could bring up at this late date. Or, early date, depending on how you looked at it.
"We got a dead body on Air Force One."
Jolting out of his thoughts at Gibbs' announcement, Tony asked curiously, "Isn't that Secret Service territory?"
Gibbs looked at him pointedly. "Only if you don't move fast enough."
"Right. Got it, Boss!"
Tony jumped to his feet and grabbed his gear.
* * * *
Kate still wasn't entirely sure how she'd managed to get fired from one job and hired by another in the span of about ten minutes. She also wasn't sure that she was all that thrilled with the new one, but had to admit there was something to the NCIS team that called to her. Well, aside from the obvious that they were all of her own kind. It wasn't just that, she knew it instinctively, Gibbs really did think that she could do the job, which was gratifying, considering how aggravating the man was.
Maybe she'd finally found the pack that she'd been searching for, for so long, despite the fact they were all male. That wasn't unheard of, when a pack formed through non-blood ties, after all. She knew that she could trust them all, felt it in her gut, which hadn't yet led her astray when it counted.
Gibbs was a pain in the ass, but in a good, tenacious, 'I'll cover your six no matter what' Marine kind of way. DiNozzo was just a pain in the ass in general, firmly reminding Kate of her younger sister's evil glee and pranks when they were kids. Ducky was a sweet man with a tendency to talk too much and Gerald, well, she wasn't sure that Gerald had even said anything for her to make a judgement on. Abby, on the other hand, was definitely a sister-in-arms and looked like a good prospect for a solid friendship.
"You know. I happen to be on good terms with the HR lady," Tony said, sidling up beside her. "If you need some help getting through all those forms, I'm sure I could, you know, grease some wheels. So to speak."
Kate took one look at his lecherous expression and punched him hard in the shoulder. "You're a pig, Tony."
"Ow!" Tony yelped, rubbing his shoulder and moving out of range. "I was just offering to help. Geeze! Let's see you get through all those forms in one sitting."
"I will, and with no chauvinistic, not-very-subtle innuendoes on your part, thank you very much," Kate snapped, stalking towards the SUV. She didn't have her own car, so Gibbs was going to have to give her a ride.
She heaved a sigh when Tony fell into step beside her.
* * * *
Shaking his head, Ducky announced, "You're playing with fire here, Jethro."
Jethro gave him a mostly-innocent look and replied, "Don't know what you're talkin' about, Duck."
"You know perfectly well that I'm talking about having two betas on the same team, and neither of them bonded to you," Ducky reproved, wagging a stern finger at him. "Tony very nearly so, but Kate not at all. You're asking for trouble, and I'll be there to say 'I told you so,' when it happens."
Kate's voice rose, coming to them in the middle of a snarled, "...and if you think that I don't see right through your sexist, faux-charm, you've got another thing coming, DiNozzo!"
"Oh yeah? Well you can just...hey, wait! What do you mean, my charm's fake? My charm is very real, I'll have you know!" Tony exclaimed, squaring off from Kate.
Gerald snorted and muttered, "My money's on Kate."
"Gerald!" Ducky scolded.
Looking over at them, Jethro grinned. "Keeps life interestin,' though, doesn't it, Ducky?"
Jethro whistled cheerfully on his way over to the vehicle and the rest of his newly finished team.
***Next story in series - Bonded.
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