- Death-Major Character
- Explicit Sex
- Canon Divergent
- Fix It
“Would you have ever told me?” Patrick Sheppard asked as he passed the coffee mug over to Tony. The Sheppard family home in Virginia was close enough to where Tony was being grilled in DC to stop by—with a crew from the SGC with stacks of NDAs to be signed. Turned out that Brown had told the whole Sheppard family, and they’d all been waiting for someone to show up about it because Patrick wasn’t an idiot, and he’d known Brown was breaking some serious rules.
“Probably not,” Tony admitted, leaning back and relaxing in his chair. They were seated in a glassed-in patio, which kept the February cold from affecting them, but the view of the grounds was lovely.
Tony had met David and Matthew briefly. They were inside signing papers. Patrick said he’d only sign after he’d had time to talk to Tony privately. “I’ll be thirty-three in a few months, and I’m going to be permanently stationed very far from here. It seemed…pointless.” He winced a little. “I don’t mean that harshly but, really, what is the point?”
Patrick contemplated his coffee like it held the answers to the universe. “I’m not sure, but I know I’d like to know my youngest. Matt and David feel the same way.” He hesitated. “These SGC people are sure…”
“It’s been verified a couple of times, but I’m fine with leaving a DNA sample with you so you can have it independently verified.”
“And John… Is he all right?” Patrick looked uncomfortable.
“He’s fine. Happy.”
“So happy that he went on a suicide mission?” Patrick’s tone was bitter and harsh.
“Is that how Brown characterized it?” Tony shook his head. “That asshole. He was trying to play you. If I didn’t play ball, he was going to attempt to manipulate you into bring all your influence to bear to have John shipped home.”
Patrick’s expression twisted. “I confess, I’d already considered that. The only thing that kept me from it so far was… Well, John and I have had a difficult relationship for many years. I knew my interference in his posting would be the death knell.”
“Perhaps,” Tony conceded. “But let me clear up a point: John’s mission was always dangerous, but it was never a ‘suicide mission.’ Yes, they went out there knowing they might die, but how is that different from any other combat deployment? The SGC was never sending them on a one-way mission. The best hope was that they’d be able to dial back immediately. But the back-up plan was always to have a ship follow them, which would bring them home if need be. Now, there were some unforeseen circumstances and it took longer than expected for that ship to arrive, but it was always the plan.”
“That helps.” Patrick leaned back in his chair, looking tired. “I’d like to see John, make things right.”
“So do it. Don’t let stupid stuff stand in the way. Trust me, I got the worst object lesson over the last year in not communicating.” He considered all the time he and Gibbs had wasted and it made him want to beat his head on a desk. “He’s gonna go ballistic when he finds out what happened here, so he might be back sooner than expected to talk to everyone. And here’s where I’m going to offer some unsolicited advice. Stop fighting about stupid shit. He’s military. Everyone needs to move on.”
Patrick ran his hand over his face. “I know. I kept expecting him to bend, and it wasn’t fair of me.” He gave Tony a pointed look. “I want to be involved in this, to help do what I can to keep all of you safe.”
“Well, you’ve got a whole aeronautical company. You’re read in now, so put some bids in to help build our freaking spaceships. Tell O’Neill you want to send some people to Atlantis to study Ancient ship design or something. If you want to get involved, do it.”
Lips quirking up, Patrick nodded. “I’ll be honest that I don’t remember your mother that well, but when you get going, it sparks a memory. You look like her. And you also look like my mother—you, John, and Matthew have her eyes.” He smiled. “It’s good to remember.”
* * *
Tony looked around his apartment, the place he’d lived for three years, and mentally said goodbye. He’d spent the first year with NCIS in a furnished place after Wendy had left him, and then he’d found this apartment and instantly fallen in love with it. He wasn’t really sad that this part of his life was over, but there was still something bittersweet about it all.
One of the staffers for Homeworld security was buying the place, furnishings and all, and was going to take care of getting rid of anything Tony didn’t want. Tony didn’t have the time to see the sale all the way through, so he’d given Daniel Jackson power of attorney to see to the settling of his affairs.
He tapped his earpiece. “Daedalus, the packages are loaded and ready.” He’d been given two enormous crates to put his personal stuff in. The aide who’d bought his place was going to go through the DVDs he was leaving behind and ensure that all of them were in the media library that had been prepared for Atlantis. Tony’d feel bad for all work he was leaving for the guy, but he’d given him a good deal and thrown in all his furniture.
“Understood, Agent DiNozzo. Beaming in five…four…three…two…one. We have your gear in the cargo hold.” He’d tried to be circumspect about what he packed, but he couldn’t help but bring a few of his favorite suits. You never knew when you might need to look professional.
“Thank you, Colonel. I’m headed to Alexandria now and will have the Gibbs’ stuff ready as soon as possible.” He signed off then left the apartment for the last time.
The drive to Alexandria was fairly quick since it was a Saturday. O’Neill was there, and had prepared the stuff Gibbs had identified ready to go. Most of the stuff Gibbs needed was in Colorado, but he’d left a bunch of his personal belongings in his basement. Plus, most of his wood-working tools were still here, and Tony knew he’d want them some day.
There had been discussion of Gibbs returning from Atlantis, but Rodney had realized how good Gibbs was with repair and immediately kept him overloaded helping with critical city issue. Atlantis had also taken a shine to Gibbs and wasn’t keen on him leaving, especially with Tony already gone.
He pulled up to the familiar house, walked to the front door, and knocked, smiling at the unfamiliar action.
O’Neill opened the door, dressed in civvies. “Hey. You all set over there?”
“Yep. Pretty easy packing all things considered.” He stepped inside, spotting the huge crate just like the ones containing his stuff. Daniel Jackson was sprawled on the sofa, drinking a beer. “Hey, Daniel.”
“Thank god Jack replaced that shitty sofa Gibbs had.”
Daniel made a face. “That was my doing. I sat on that sofa once.”
“Did you get a chance to visit your friends and any coworkers?” Daniel asked, obviously trying to be sociable.
“Yeah, I met up with a few people for lunch on Thursday. Stuck with the cover story, of course. And told them I was being deployed overseas on a confidential assignment.”
He’d also talked on the phone to Abby. That hadn’t gone so great, but it could have been worse. She’d wanted to come back to the States and see him—she was currently in Amsterdam—but Tony had told her he’d be shipping out soon and would keep in touch via email. She’d pressed for answers about why he’d been out of touch for so long, but he’d given her the party line about classified assignment and that he couldn’t discuss it. She’d gotten better from when she was at her absolute worst, but he figured Kate was going to have to make sure she stayed focused on herself and getting a life built that she enjoyed rather than backsliding into unhealthy behaviors around the team.
After pleasantries with Daniel, Tony then looked to Jack. “You find everything?”
“Yep. Even got all the woodworking tools I could find down there. We placed a large order for the type of lumber he’s been using for his boats. Figure if he’s living in a city that’s on water, he might as well build another boat. Hermiod is going to do something with their beamy thing that will ensure we’re not taking any destructive form of mite or whatever to Pegasus.”
Tony smiled. “I’m sure he’ll appreciate that. I’m not sure why Gibbs didn’t ask for more things.”
“Cause right now, all he cares about is having you back. Nothing else registers.” He looked to Daniel, his smile turning soft.
Feeling his face heat a little, Tony looked away, giving them privacy for their sappy moment. He figured Gibbs had tunnel vision when he’d made his packing requests, so Tony had taken it upon himself to supply the man in wood-working tools and bourbon.
Jack got his attention. “I authorized an extra crate for his tools because they needed special handling, and I figure they might come in useful on that city—there were tools for a lot more than wood. But his other two crates were way under allotment.”
“We need to fill them with coffee. I mean, seriously, to the brim.”
Jack frowned. “We send a lot of coffee—”
“He’s not kidding, Jack,” Daniel said quickly. “Even I don’t drink coffee like that. You didn’t work around him all that much, so you didn’t see the crazy. I’m surprised his blood isn’t half caffeine. He definitely needs a private reserve because, otherwise, the scientists will kill him.”
“All right, fill to the brim with coffee. Because I cannot deal with one more report about the asshole fest between Gibbs and McKay. I think they must hate each other.”
“Nah. If Gibbs hated McKay, he wouldn’t bother with him—and vice versa, I’m sure. They’re just both used to being in charge and being the best at what they do. Neither is going to give ground easily.” Tony grinned. “Still, I’m looking forward to this.”
“I suppose we’re just lucky that Gibbs wasn’t on McKay’s radar when he was first on Atlantis or we might have never gotten him back.” Jack said with a look of consternation.
“Or maybe you could take it seriously when McKay says he needs people who know how to fix stuff. I’m not saying plumbers or anything, but mechanical and electrical engineers who do applied work in their fields wouldn’t be amiss. I mean, I think he’s going to strangle you if you send him one more theoretician.”
“I don’t make the final calls on the science staff on Atlantis.” Jack held up his hands like warding off a blow.
“Maybe you should get a handle on whoever does because they’re being a dick.”
Daniel sighed before offering, “Sam veto’d some of McKay’s choices for the second wave. I can see why McKay would be hot under the collar if she sent a bunch of theoretical scientists out there.”
“Why the hell would she do that?”
“Ask her, Jack. But she outranks McKay in the SGC, and I think he felt he didn’t have any choice but to accept the roster changes.”
Jack stared at the ceiling, as if to say, “why me?”
“It comes off like she’s trying to sabotage him,” Tony remarked idly, getting sharp looks from Daniel and Jack. “I’m just saying how it looks. I get that she might have good reasons for thinking McKay doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing… Oh wait! No, I don’t see that she might have good reasons. She just thinks she knows better.”
Jack’s glare persisted for several seconds then he huffed. “Fair. I’ll talk to her.”
“Jack,” Daniel said, sounding vexed, “quit butting into Weppler’s command. Let him deal with it.”
“The two of them rub each other the wrong way.”
“But he’s her CO. Everyone has adjusted except Sam. She’s getting there, but you interfering isn’t going to help.”
“Okay,” Tony clapped his hands together, rubbing briskly. “This has nothing to do with me, though it’d be great if McKay could get the people he asked for. Cool? Cool. Adios.”
“Actually,” Daniel said quickly, “I’d like to have a word, if you don’t mind, Tony. Jack can handle the beam up to the Daedalus. Hand him your earpiece so he doesn’t have to bitch and moan about his being in the bedroom.”
Grinning, Tony passed off his comms then followed Daniel into the kitchen. “What can I do for you?”
Daniel leaned against the counter and then seemed frustrated. “You know, I thought I knew what to say, but I really don’t. And being at a loss for words isn’t something I usually struggle with.”
“I assume this is about our…shared experience?”
“Yes.” Daniel began to pace, gesturing as he went. “We share a very unique experience, and I feel like there’s something we should talk about. For starters, how much better you did at the whole thing than I did.”
“Well, I only did better at it because I had your experience as a precedent.”
“Maybe. But look at all the things you figured out and all you accomplished.” He ran his hands through his hair. “You remember.”
“Less than you might think. They had to give me some context for what I did and the bargain I made, but most of what I learned is just gone.”
“But you remember being ascended.”
“Yeah.” Tony hesitated. “Do you want me to tell you about it?”
Daniel stopped pacing. “Would you? Is that too much to ask?”
“No, Daniel, it’s fine.” He gestured to the table. “Let’s sit and talk. Do you think Jack wants to join us?”
“I’m certain he doesn’t. He knew I planned to talk to you about this, but he doesn’t like being reminded of that time.”
“I can’t imagine why.” Tony thought over how obviously painful his absence had been for Gibbs. He assumed it’d been the same for Jack. “Let’s have some coffee and chat.”
They talked for a couple of hours, going over things Tony hadn’t shared with anyone because he’d figured they wouldn’t understand. When it was all said and done, Tony felt lighter for having shared his experience with someone who could actually understand.
When the dinner hour rolled around, he went to one last dinner with Daniel and Jack to Tony’s favorite restaurant in DC. Then the Daedalus beamed all three of them to Jack’s place in Colorado. Tony was going to stay in the guest room for his last couple nights there. He’d spend all day tomorrow with Kate and Tim, and then be back to Atlantis on Monday.
* * *
Gibbs pulled the calibration do-dad out of McKay’s hands. “I don’t need you to show me, McKay, I’ve done it 100 times now.”
“But this power relay is vital to—”
“McKay!” Gibbs said sharply. “The boss of the whole city is standing behind you.” Atlantis smiled at Gibbs’ words. “If I’m about to screw up, she’ll say something.”
McKay slouched against the wall. “I know.”
“When did you last sleep?” Gibbs asked, eyes narrowed.
“I don’t know.”
“Jesus.” He sighed. “Would you go get some sleep. There’s nothing urgent.”
“It’s all urgent. There’s so much to be done, you don’t understand…”
Gibbs looked to Atlantis. “Would you let Colonel Sheppard know that Dr. McKay needs to go to bed.”
“Certainly, Agent Gibbs. I agree, he is in need of rest.”
Gibbs chuckled and stuck his head back under the console where he was checking for damaged crystals. He wasn’t sure if he’d hate being city mechanic as a full time job or love it. Though he wouldn’t get a chance to figure it out if McKay didn’t stop trying to micromanage him.
He’d been tempted so many times to just go back through the gate and be with Tony, especially once the word had come through that he was okay and everything was sorted. But Tony had encouraged him to stay on Atlantis and that he would only take a week of his allotted two to wrap up his affairs.
Tony had admitted in email that even though he’d supposedly worked out everything in regards to the IOA and the US government, he didn’t trust that they wouldn’t fuck with Gibbs’ orders “innocently” in order to get back at Tony in some fashion. The whole thing made Gibbs eager to hear first-hand what the hell had happened, but he’d given in to save Tony any more stress.
Atlantis had been the one to suggest that Gibbs help McKay with city repairs, and it had wound up being a god send in the sense that it gave him something to do. It wound up keeping him very busy, but it a was also a pain in his ass because…McKay.
He heard when Sheppard arrived to drag McKay away, giving a vague acknowledgment at John’s greeting. When Gibbs had been grousing under his breath over dinner the prior day about McKay’s bossiness, Sheppard had started laughing, saying that Tony had mentioned how he and John had that in common…a fondness for difficult personalities.
Gibbs had been unimpressed. He’d vowed to make Tony pay at the earliest possible opportunity.
Everything went quiet with McKay and Sheppard gone, leaving him alone with his work, though he was aware of Atlantis’ presence. He was just glad McKay’s minions had learned to leave him alone to work. Gibbs didn’t mind Zelenka or Kusanagi all that much, but some of the others… Complete idiots.
He sighed as he finished closing up the panel. “Everything is good now.”
“Thank you, Agent Gibbs. You are most adept with your hands.”
He patted the wall. “You’re welcome.”
She folded herself down into a cross-legged position and watched him as he packed up his tools. “You miss him.”
Gibbs stilled and met her gaze. “I do.”
“I missed them all when they left.”
“It must have been lonely for you.”
“Yes. I do not wish to be lonely again.”
“I’ll do whatever I can to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
“Thank you, Jethro.” She cocked her head to the side. “There is a dial-in from the SGC.” She hesitated. “You’re needed in the control room.”
Hopping to his feet, he thanked her then ran for the transporter. He hoped nothing had gone wrong on Earth.
He made it into the control room just as Tony stepped through the gate, grinning broadly. Gibbs didn’t even hesitate, he just crossed the room and yanked Tony into a bone-bruising hug.
“I guess you missed me…”
“I’m not letting you out of my sight again,” Gibbs muttered against Tony’s shoulder.” He pulled back enough to meet Tony’s gaze. “Thought you were coming back on the Daedalus.”
“O’Neill let me take the express route. That and Caldwell said I’m a trouble magnet, and he’s not sure he wants me on his ship.”
“You are a trouble magnet. I’ve briefed Atlantis on your tendency toward being abducted.”
“Oh, you did not.”
Atlantis appeared right next to Gibbs. “He did. I have prepared countermeasures in the event that anyone should attempt to abscond with you.”
Tony sighed and rolled his eyes towards the heavens, but then he smiled at Atlantis and said, “Hi.”
“Welcome home, Anthony.”
“You gonna keep him all to yourself, Gibbs?” Sheppard drawled from where he was leaning against a pillar, tapping his tablet against his thigh.
“Actually, I am.” Gibbs grabbed Tony by the wrist and led him away.
Tony laughed. “Don’t you think I should check in with Frank?”
Frank waved from the balcony. “Consider yourself checked in, Tony. You’re technically not on the duty roster until next week. Shall I consider Gibbs off-duty as well?”
“Hell, yes,” Gibbs said emphatically.
Tony pointed at John as he was dragged along. “I need to talk to you later…”
“Much later,” Gibbs clarified, leading Tony out into the corridor.
They ran into Teyla and Ronon. Ronon looked enlightened as Gibbs pulled Tony toward a transporter, but Teyla just smiled after them and wished them a good evening.
They made it to the residential area when he paused, not sure if he should go to his quarters or Tony’s.
Tony took over the lead, heading for the quarters at the end of the corridor. “Mine is bigger and I need to drop by bag anyway.” As soon as they were inside, Gibbs suddenly felt like he didn’t know what to do, but Tony let go of the bag and wrapped his arms around Gibbs.
Holding on tight, Gibbs breathed in Tony’s scent. “Hey.”
Pulling back a bit, Tony met Gibbs’ gaze. “Hey.”
“You’re here now?”
“Yep. Tried to wrap up as much—”
Gibbs placed his hand over Tony’s mouth, stopping the flow of words. “Can we just—” He wasn’t sure how to express what he needed, he just knew he felt raw.
After a few beats, Tony pulled the hand away. “Whatever you need.”
They wound up on the bed with Gibbs holding Tony tightly. He needed the time to get himself back under control.
Tony was still and calm, returning the embrace. “I’m not going away again, Jethro,” he murmured against Gibbs’ shoulder.
Gibbs’ hands clenched on Tony’s back. “Doesn’t feel real. Not yet.”
“It will. We’ve got time.”
* * *
Gibbs woke abruptly, blinking in the dim and unfamiliar room. There was a solid weight against his side and half on his chest. His memories aligned and he smiled against Tony’s hair, tightening his hold. Tony shifted against him, movements slow and sleepy. Gibbs figured Tony starting to wake was what had woken him.
“Time izzit?” Tony grumbled, pressing his face into Gibbs shoulder.
“Just before dinner, I think.”
“God, I’m starving. But, more urgently…” Tony broke away and hopped off the bed, heading straight for the en suite.
Gibbs laughed as he sat up and thought the lights on. He figured they’d slept for about four hours. Gibbs had always been able to go on little sleep, but he’d been pushing those boundaries since Tony had been stuck on Earth.
When they’d both freshened up, Gibbs took a closer look around Tony’s rooms. And they were rooms. There was a separate bed and bath from the living room and small kitchen, which had some basic non-perishables so Tony grabbed a snack to take the edge of his hunger. It wasn’t stocked otherwise, so they’d have to venture to the mess.
The room was at a curving part of the spire so the balcony wrapped all the way around the living room and bedroom. Tony wandered out there, gnawing on a trail mix bar and stared out over the last bit of sun setting over the horizon. “I love it here,” he murmured.
“Good thing since you vowed to spend your life here.” Gibbs leaned on the railing.
Tony turned to face Gibbs. “But you didn’t. You okay with this?”
Gibbs looped an arm around Tony’s waist, pulling him close again, feeling touch hungry in a way he never had before. “I don’t care where we are, Tony.” He looked out over the water. “But this isn’t bad.”
There was a chime from the door, and Gibbs frowned, but followed Tony to answer it.
“Good evening, Jethro, Tony,” Teyla greeted with a Marine corporal standing behind her. They were carrying two trays of food and one tray with drinks, snacks, and desserts. “I thought you might enjoy privacy this evening, so I took the liberty of selecting your dinner.”
“You are a goddess, Teyla,” Tony leaned in and dropped a kiss on her cheek. “Thank you. Seriously. And thank you, Corporal.”
Gibbs nodded his thanks to the two and accepted the two food trays. They decided to eat on the balcony since it was still warm enough here to do so. “What’s with the quarters? You going to run investigations from the living room?”
Tony blushed but shook his head. “Frank is arranging a permanent NCIS office. Well, he started it before I went back to Earth, so I figure it’s done now. Supplies should be on the Daedalus. Also, Jack arranged for all of your tools and a huge shipment of wood. Said he figured boat building made slightly more sense out here.”
Gibbs snorted, but was pleased with the surprise. He’d have to check with Boyd about where he could set up a wood working shop. “Didn’t answer my question,” he said pointedly, spearing a bite of meat.
“Frank wanted to know if we wanted to share a room. I couldn’t answer that for you, but I’d…” He cleared his throat. “I’d like to think we’re headed that direction. He decided to give me this room… It’s aspirational.”
“You asking me to move in with you, Tony?” Gibbs teased, not able to help but smile.
Tony buried his face in his hands. “Yes, okay? But not necessarily right this second. I figure we should try for second base before we move in together.”
“Hey.” He reached out and pulled Tony’s hands away from his face. “I want this. Want you. Whatever speed we go at, we’ll get there. The bigger room is a good idea.”
“Yeah.” He squeezed Tony’s hand then let go. “Tell me what happened on Earth.”
Tony stabbed some vegetables with a lot of aggression then proceeded to tell Gibbs about everything that had happened. “And I can’t believe that douchebag told Patrick Sheppard about the program. And as much as I’d like to just spend the whole night with you, I need to talk to John tonight. There’s going to be stuff in the databurst tomorrow from his family, and I don’t want him blindsided.”
“Invite him here after dinner. I can come back later or wait in the bedroom.”
“Or just stay with me.”
“Or that.” They finished dinner while discussing all the things that had happened while Tony was on Earth. One of the last updates before Tony had left was that O’Neill had recruited Dr. Brad Pitt, the doctor from when Tony had the plague, to replace Carolyn Lam at the SGC. Dr. Lam, who’d had some difficulty adjusting at the SGC would be coming to Atlantis as Chief Medical Officer, replacing Carson Beckett.
Tony radioed Sheppard and arranged to meet in a couple of hours in Tony’s quarters, so they moved into the living area and settled on the sofa.
Gibbs got all up in Tony’s space, framing his face with both hands. “You’re here.”
Tony clasped Gibbs’ wrists, rubbing his thumbs in small circles. “Yeah, and I’m staying. Kiss me.”
Gibbs obliged willingly, leaning in and sliding his tongue into Tony’s mouth. They both groaned into it, and Tony seemed to melt into it. The slide of tongues and press of lips was all-consuming and it helped Gibbs finally feel grounded in Tony being back, being safe.
He knew he couldn’t let this get too out of control, but the intensity was there, hot and sharp with the potential to consume them both. He slowed things down, pulling away and leaning against the arm of the couch with Tony half sprawled on top of him.
Tony sighed and pressed a kiss to Gibbs’ collarbone. “I think we’re finally at the end of this crazy journey.”
“Or just at the beginning.”
Smiling, Tony rested his forehead against Gibbs’. “Yeah.”
“Welcome home, Tony.”
Five Years Later
The sensation of lips traveling along his spine woke Tony slowly. He moaned and wiggled closer. “Keep doing that.”
Jethro chuckled and continued his exploration of Tony’s back. Tony’s morning erection went from half there to full-on interested in about a minute. Jethro ended his exploration with a series of kisses behind Tony’s ear, which was always guaranteed to get Tony’s motor revving.
“Get in me,” Tony ordered, pulling his top leg up, exposing himself to his lover. He still felt loose and well-used from last night, so all Jethro should need to do is slick up and get to it.
He felt the slippery press against his hole just before the slow slide of Jethro’s cock in his ass. Tony groaned and arched into it as Jethro’s arms closed around him.
Fucking in the morning was always slow and languorous despite the fact that Tony was always inclined toward impatience. But Jethro liked to tease and take his time in the early hours, and even though it drove him crazy, Tony also loved it.
Jethro fucked into him slowly with endless patience. He eventually pulled out and pushed Tony onto his stomach, kneed his legs apart, and pushed back in with a hard thrust.
Tony fisted his hands in the blankets and pushed back to meet Jethro’s steady drive into him. He knew that Jethro would keep the crazy, slow pace until Tony totally surrendered to it, but he never could quite give in until some point had been hit in his mind.
Jethro blanketed Tony with his body, moving in and out of Tony’s ass at his own pace, then pressed a gentle kiss to the back of Tony’s neck. Tony felt his brain turn to mush and his whole body go lax.
Immediately, Jethro pulled out and grabbed Tony’s hips, pulling him until Tony had his knees under him, head and chest on the bed. He thrust back in hard and set a brutal pace. Tony’s cock was leaking steadily and when Jethro’s hand closed over him, it took one stroke before he came with a muffled shout.
Jethro was only a few seconds behind him, coming in Tony’s ass as his fingers tightened on Tony’s hips in a way he knew would leave marks.
They wound up sprawled out on the bed, languid and utterly replete.
“Have I mentioned how much I love the sonic washer that’s in this apartment?”
Jethro snorted, lazily trailing his fingers over Tony’s skin. “Just about every time you come all over the sheets.”
“And whose fault is that?”
“You complaining, Governor?”
Tony groaned and buried his face in his pillow, mumbling. “No.”
“Yes. The first day is the hardest, right?”
Tony rolled over and glared at his husband. “How would you know? No one’s making you run a city.”
Obviously fighting his smile, Jethro leaned in and dropped a kiss on Tony’s shoulder. “Boyd’s due his retirement, Tony. But he’s staying on to help part time, right? You’re not alone in this.” Boyd had asked to live out the rest of his days on Atlantis, feeling he’d found a second family with the permanent residents of a the city. He wasn’t alone in the retirement sentiment. A couple of others had also done something similar. Several Marines had finished out their twenty but asked to stay on the city, taking up part-time work as skilled workers or ferrying people around on Jumpers, if they had the gene.
“I know.” Tony did know Frank was due his leisure time, but that didn’t mean Tony was ready at thirty-eight to govern a city of two thousand people, not to mention the trade negotiations and mission plans. “Why can’t my father do it?”
“Because Atlantis was barely able to save him, and he’s supposed to be on low-stress according to Dr. Lam for the next year.” It was only a few months ago that John had been back at the SGC when their father had been on one of his many visits since picking up the contract to build the BC-305. Patrick had had a massive heart attack while in the SGC, and John had opted to practically throw his father through the gate, knowing Atlantis had more advanced medical facilities. Patrick had lived and had decided to make Atlantis his permanent home. Matt had already been living on the city for over a year, and David was running things back on Earth, though he visited Atlantis on occasion. Long enough to catch the eye of Miko Kusanagi and fall hopelessly for each other. Miko had joined David, working on various projects for the SGC. Rodney was still complaining about losing her to another of those “fluffy-headed idiots.”
“Would you stop being reasonable? Be a supportive husband and pander to my whining would you please?”
“You’re right. It’s awful that you have be in charge. How can I make it up to you?”
“I’m pretty sure you have a meeting with what’s left of the Genii today.” The Genii had not been trading partners for the expedition since they’d tried to fuck them over again and again. Unfortunately, their nuclear program got away from them much like it had the Langarans. Frank had authorized medical aid for the few hundred survivors and they’d been relocated to another planet, but they’d been lobbying to move to the city.
Tony groaned and covered his face. “Trial by fucking fire.”
Jethro pulled the hands away and cupped Tony’s cheek, thumb stroking softly. “You’re gonna do great, Governor Gibbs.” His grin was unbearably smug, and Tony let him have the moment. Tony had toyed with changing his last name to Paddington right up until Jethro had proposed, so he’d just decided to take his husband’s name. They’d planned to travel back to Earth to whatever state was currently supporting gay marriage, but Frank had already been pushing through a change to Lantean law that allowed gay marriage and suspended ridiculous UCMJ rules about gays and the military. The changes had been ratified by the IOA and various world governments in time for Jethro and Tony to marry nearly three years ago.
He felt a little push at the back of his mind. Atlantis’ unobtrusive way of letting him know their daughter was starting to wake. He rolled to a seated position. “Izzy’s waking up.”
“I’ll get her and start breakfast. Go shower.”
Isabelle had been a shock shortly after Tony had spent his first year on the city. He’d been off-world doing trade negotiations with one of the more advanced civilizations in Pegasus. They’d been in possession of some level of Ancient technology, which had become apparent when they’d sat down at the meeting table an several of the group had devices at their seats that lit up.
The people of M8X-424, called the Pesorians, had been delighted to have people of the ancestor’s lineage to negotiate with, but they’d been cagey about how much Ancient equipment they had on the planet, or even what type.
Once the off-world greenhouses had been seeded and put back into production, Atlantis had been in a power position to negotiate in Pegasus. They had the capacity to grow food for a million people, but the need for a fraction of their potential.
The Pesorians hadn’t seemed to need to negotiate for food, nor did they seem to want to offer anything, and the Ancient devices they had only seemed to be about confirming Ancient DNA. They’d left the meeting having accomplished nothing.
Tony’s investigator instincts had been on high-alert after the oddness of the whole meeting, and Gibbs, who went everywhere Tony did, had been in complete agreement. Atlantis could normally connect to Ancient labs or equipment through the gate, but she’d been concerned that she not only didn’t have a record of any facility on that planet, she couldn’t connect to anything. If there was a facility, the communication relays had been destroyed.
The whole mess had made Tony ask Frank to send the Ancient warship they’d named Phoenix, now under the command of Colonel Caldwell, under cloak to see what the Pesorians were up to.
At the end of a long, messy problem, they’d learned that this planet was where the experiment combining Ancient DNA with Iratus had been done. When the wraith were the result, the Ancients had struck the knowledge of the facility from the database, using a priority protocol to keep even Atlantis from remembering it. They cut the communication arrays and abandoned the place. The Pesorians had been squatters 10,000 years ago, but they’d built a whole society that couldn’t use the technology they’d found. They’d been on the lookout to steal Ancient DNA whenever they could. They had a small handful of people over millennia of stealing DNA who had enough of the ATA genes to use the artificial wombs that filled the Ancient laboratory.
Fortunately for everyone’s sanity, they weren’t messing around with Iratus DNA, they were just trying to make babies who were more like the “ancestors.” Tony thought they hoped to claim Atlantis some day, but all that had mattered was that by the time they’d figured out what the Pesorians were doing, there were already two dozen viable embryos from the eight people on the mission who had Ancient DNA, including John, Rodney, and Gibbs.
They’d had an ugly fight with the Pesorians before seizing all the embryos for transport back to Atlantis. Most of the embryos had been able to be placed in stasis, but a few, the first to be placed in the gestation pods, were too far along. They’d need to be destroyed or allowed to be taken to term.
There had been a lot of discussion over the right way to handle the whole thing, especially since the Pesorians—who Tony and John had started calling the Pestorians—had been pretty indiscriminate with whose DNA they combined with whose. Fortunately, John and Tony didn’t have to worry because the Ancient equipment had rejected them out of hand as a viable combination, but the four embryos that were in question for immediate decisions had been: Tony and Marine Sergeant Markham; Gibbs and John; Gibbs and Marine Sergeant Stackhouse; and Rodney and Tony.
After much, much debate, it was decided to allow all four embryos to grow to term and deal with the custody issues and the fallout. In the end, Isabelle Teyla Gibbs was Gibbs and Stackhouse’s biological child. William Patrick Sheppard was Jethro and John’s kid, and Meredith Claire Sheppard was Tony and Rodney’s, with both Will and Meredith being raised by John and Rodney. Tony and Markham wound up with another baby boy who’d been named Zachariah Peter Markham, and Markham and Stackhouse had set up their family home down the hall from Tony and Gibbs.
It had been beyond difficult to deal with the fallout of how everyone felt about the whole situation, and the decisions about custody had been hard on all of them. In the end, they all had a commitment to the city and they rotated who took care of all the kids on any given day.
It had been weird at first that John and Rodney were raising Tony’s biological child, but the oddness had faded and he enjoyed his position in her life as Uncle Tony, and it never fazed him that his Isabelle wasn’t biologically his.
He’d just finished dressing when he felt another little push from the city, so he detoured by the nursery on his way to the kitchen. He stared down into the crib as little Dante Ronon stirred, lips pursing as he blinked his eyes. Tony leaned down and picked Dante up, moving over to the changing table.
Several of the embryos had been a combination of Jethro and Tony, so when Jethro had floated the idea a year ago of them having another kid, Tony had thought about it for a bit before he’d agreed. When Izzy’d been born, it had been a worry considering the ongoing threat of the wraith, but they’d had multiple plans for evacuating the city if there was ever another siege.
But there hadn’t been. They’d been successful at beating back the wraith and taking the fight to them with the four new cloaked battle cruisers that had come out of the ship yard. They still had work to do to free Pegasus from the threat of the wraith, but Tony had confidence they’d succeed, and life had to move on.
So one of the embryos had been chosen and moved to a gestation pod. Eight months later, Dante had been born. Ronon had saved Jethro’s life off-world a few weeks before the birth, and Tony had asked Ronon to be godfather. Dante had Gibbs eyes, but he was barely two months old and his personality pretty much consisted of “feed me.”
He went into the living area and passed Dante over to Jethro, dropping a kiss on Izzy’s blonde, curly hair—traits she got from Stackhouse’s family. “Morning, sweet pea.”
“Hi, Daddy,” she said brightly as she sucked fruit remnants from her fingers. She looked at him with Jethro’s blue eyes. “Is your boss job today?”
“Yep, starting today, baby girl. Why?”
“Are you going to be gone forever and ever.”
“Not even. I won’t be gone long enough for you to even finish that Lego build with Ronon.”
Her eyes narrowed. “Wanna bet?”
“Someone has been teaching you terrible, terrible things.”
* * *
“Isabelle Teyla Gibbs, get your little butt back here.” Tony was going to be late. He couldn’t keep chasing his daughter around the room.
“Oh, honey, please. Socks. Every day we wear socks.”
“Socks first and then shoes.”
“No shoes!” She started bouncing in place. “No shoes, no shoes, no shoes.”
Jethro stepped into the room and hefted Izzy under his arm, getting a giggle from her as she started kicking the air. “Just put her socks and shoes in the bag. I left Dante with Carolyn and Patrick.”
“I want to see Grandpa!” Izzy yelled happily.
Tony began stuffing all the things in her bag. “Grandpa is watching the babies today. Uncle Matt and Uncle Ronon are keeping an eye on the imps today.”
“Yay! Uncle Ronon is going to teach me to use a sword!”
Tony shot Jethro an alarmed look, but his husband smiled and shook his head, mouthing, “Rubber.”
There was no doubt that Ronon was the biggest badass on the city, but he was also a softie who preferred to spend his time with his new family. He and Matt had gotten together almost as soon as Matt set foot in the city, but no one had known how serious it was until the two had announced their engagement a year ago. They’d been married two weeks later. Tony knew Ronon wanted kids, but Matt had wanted to wait a couple of years. Atlantis assured them she’d be able to combine their DNA to successfully create an embryo when they were ready.
The other embryos in stasis crossed Tony’s mind from time to time. He had a feeling they’d eventually get them all in gestation pods. Tony and Gibbs had a couple more in there, but most of the embryos, five more to be precise, were Gibbs and John’s. Rodney and John had two. Markham and Stackhouse had only had one, and it had already been taken to term in the gestation pods. Rodney had analyzed the algorithms at the breeding facility and determined that there’d only been one embryo made for the two because the computer had determined low Ancient genetics in the end result and that it wasn’t a viable combination. The most success had come from the combination of John and Gibbs, and Tony and Rodney.
Even after all these years, the violation of the whole thing could piss him off, but he’d learned to accept the things that were completely out of his control. Plus, he wouldn’t trade his kids for anything.
They dropped off Izzy with Matt and Ronon, pointing out the bare feet—not that it was anything new for Izzy. If it wasn’t for Atlantis telling them where Izzy’d hidden her shoes and socks on the city, they’d no doubt be finding them tucked away years from now.
All the other three-ish-year-olds were inside laughing and playing.
John and Rodney were waiting for them in the briefing room, neither of them happy to be entertaining the idea of having the Genii on the city.
John had been promoted to general, though the lines were often blurred since Atlantis considered him the head of the Lantean space fleet while Earth considered him the military commander. But most of them walked a weird line between the duty to Earth and their duty to Atlantis and the whole Pegasus Galaxy.
They had issues with Earth from time to time, but Frank could be a hard ass about reminding the IOA of the resources Pegasus brought to the table. Aside from Naquadah, they’d been growing some medicinal plants that were showing promising research on Earth. And when they’d had another goa’uld issue that required Jack O’Neill in the chair, they’d happily re-supplied the drones used in the attack. The IOA settled down and stopped grumbling about not getting enough from Atlantis.
Tony figured the IOA and various Earth governments would keep testing the boundaries from time to time, but the city was his, and he wasn’t letting the petty minds from Earth corrupt what they’d built.
Somewhat reluctantly, Tony took the seat at the head of the table usually reserved for Frank. All the senior staff were already in attendance along with the city council, which was comprised of the leaders of all the various groups living on the city. Frank sat on his right, patting his hand and offering him a reassuring smile. Lorne had resigned from the Air Force three years ago and taken up the role of deputy governor, second to Frank Boyd with the plan to remain in the role when Tony took over. He’d then proceeded to marry Steven Caldwell, something only Rodney had seen coming, apparently. Lorne sat on Tony’s left, and Gibbs took the position on Tony’s six, as always.
They went through some basics about city governance and mission issues before getting to the reason today was tense.
“So, our main issue today is what’s left of the Genii have applied for residency on Atlantis.” He looked around at all the sour expressions. “I’ve read and listened to the recording of their petition, but I’d like to hear everyone’s thoughts on the matter.”
They went around the table, and he let everyone speak their piece. Anyone who’d been here for the Genii’s prior bad behavior was adamantly against city residency, some of the newer additions were merely cautious. The senior expedition staff consisted of the senior military leaders assigned to the expedition—primarily Generals Caldwell and Sheppard and their XOs. Then there was the senior science and diplomatic staff.
Tony considered everyone’s input then said, “We’ve had some growing pains in terms of how to determine who should live on the city. But other than the children and young people of M7G-677, we have generally followed a certain protocol.” The kids on the suicide planet, as Tony thought of it, had been moved wholesale to Atlantis as soon as they knew they had the food to support them—which had been bumpy and they’d needed a lot of cajoling, but they’d made it work.
Unlike other groups who now occupied the city, many of the children had integrated with other peoples and even lived amongst the expedition. A core group of the oldest of the kids lived in a tower together to retain some sense of their old lives while also trying to integrate and be part of the city.
Teyla, who was now Atlantis’ chief ambassador, offered, “Yes, Governor Gibbs, I feel we have been very successful with first bringing people to the mainland settlements. It gives us the opportunity to see how they acclimate. If all goes well, in the next phase we work with them on cleaning and preparing a section of the city for their occupation. We have been quite successful with allowing these survivors of the wraith to remain in their cultural groups yet become part of the city whole.”
The growing pains had been hard on many of the expedition staff, but particularly on Jethro and Tony because Jethro was chief of security and Tony, prior to today, was head of law enforcement. There were approximately 750 people form Earth and nearly 1,300 from various planets in Pegasus. Maintaining operational security had kept them both up all night more than once.
“Teyla, I read your report on how the Genii acclimated on the mainland, which seemed fine. But you expressed reservations.” Tony gave her a considering look. “That seems contradictory.”
“It was an impression. A,” she tilted her head, “gut impulse, as Agent Gibbs would say.”
He raised an eyebrow.
“Their cooperation and compliance felt forced. There was an artifice to it. Though, I confess, I am perhaps biased as my encounters with the Genii since coming to Atlantis have not been positive.”
“My concern,” Tony said, “is how quickly they pushed for residency.” He looked around the table, focusing on the leaders of the off-world populations now successfully living and rebuilding their lives on Atlantis. “Those of you who faced the wraith and saw your lives torn apart took any opportunity presented to you to rebuild and grow in safety. There are those of you who weren’t even sure about leaving the mainland.”
Several nodded, one of the older women smiling softly at Tony.
“You’ve now built a life here. I believe Atlantis is meant to protect this galaxy and nurture those who struggle to survive in the wake of the devastation of the wraith. Some may choose to live on the mainland or here or even settle on another planet some day, but Atlantis will stand between you and the wraith if we are able.
“Despite all you have suffered and how I’m sure you and your people longed for safety, none of you ever made a demand. None of you insisted on living on the city. In more than one instance, the demand came from our people.” He drummed his finger on his tablet. “Evan, would you put the application for residency on the main screen.”
Lorne fiddled with his tablet, and then the display was filled with the words of the current Genii leader about why they should be allowed on Atlantis. It was transcribed into the system by Atlantis, but there was an audio recording of the entire verbal application.
When the audio had been played for those who wished to hear the context, most of the room who had been on the fence about the Genii seemed unsettled.
“I can’t with any certainty that they have a plan to do anything bad,” Tony said carefully, “but my years of experience say they’re not ready to be part of this community. While we have ample space, we don’t not have the person resources to manage a society, no matter how small, who are not ready to integrate and work. Does anyone else have any concerns they’d like to raise?”
One of the resident leaders stood, a middle-aged man who was soft-spoken and kind, but Tony had witnessed him beat a wraith’s head in with a large hammer to protect his son. “I would like to meet the Genii in person and hear their tale, if that would be agreeable to you, Governor.”
Tony nodded. “Any of you who wish to accompany me to the mainland for my meeting with the Genii leaders may.” He looked to Caldwell and gave a nod. Caldwell left with his XO. They were going to bring the Phoenix under cloak right over the part of the settlement the Genii occupied in case there were any issues. The Daedalus was back in the Milky Way, making occasional runs to Pegasus to get Naquadah. Caldwell had wanted to stay here, and eventually helped Sheppard vet the commanders for the other battle cruisers when they were completed.
Everyone waited for Tony to leave first—being governor was weird. More than half the senior staff and resident council were staying behind.
John fell into step beside him. “I’ll be piloting you to the mainland.”
“That’s a little below your paygrade, General.”
“Yeah, well. You’re my brother and it’s the Genii. Caldwell has tactical command on this one, but I’m not sitting it out.”
“Never asked you to, John. In fact, I want their reaction to you and Rodney.”
* * *
It really wasn’t a surprise to Tony that the Genii were just trying to get on the city. It was a surprise that if they were denied access, their backup plan was to assassinate the city governor.
Tony felt the knife enter his gut and stared into the eyes of the young woman he’d never suspected of being an assassin.
She was dead before Tony could even react, taken out by at least three headshots. Somehow the knife broke when she fell, leaving only the blade buried in Tony, and it was agonizing. The man Tony knew to be her father was behind held back to Marines as the man ranted and screamed.
Jethro’s arms were around Tony, lowering him to the ground as Tony clutched what he could feel of the knife buried in his gut. “Don’t pull it out,” Jethro whispered urgently, “and don’t you dare leave me. Phoenix, beam us straight to the infirmary.” Jethro looked to John. “Handle this.”
There was a flash and Tony was on the floor of the infirmary, being lifted onto a bed.
Dr. Biro was starting scans and Atlantis appeared, her brow creased with worry. “Dr. Lam is on the way.”
“She’s with the babies today,” Tony gasped out, agonizing pain coming from his stomach. Jethro was at Tony’s head, holding one hand, squeezing hard.
Dr. Biro shot him incredulous look but kept working, packing around the knife. “The wound perforated the small intestine. This would be a hot mess without the healing tubes.”
Dr. Lam came in at a run, quickly getting a report from Biro. After several minutes, she said, “Atlantis has the healing pod ready, and we all agree that getting the blade out and you into the pod is the best course. Atlantis is going to give you the equivalent of an epidural so I can get the blade out.”
He felt the table subtly shift under him and then a prick at the back of his neck that was almost nothing. Then all sensation from the shoulders down was gone. “It’s working,” he glanced at Jethro, not liking the look on his husband’s face.
Lam worked quickly and a few minutes later, she pulled out what looked like glass. “It’s some sort of clear material. Resin or something.” She handed it to Biro. “Get it analyzed.” She looked at Tony. “We’re going to transfer you into the pod now. You’ll fall asleep as soon as the healing cycle begins. It’ll take about six hours.”
Tony nodded, clutching at Jethro’s hand. “Hey.”
“I’m sorry, Tony, we should have—”
“No,” Tony said sharply. “It’s no one’s fault. She flew under my radar too.” He held on tighter. “Do not take this on. I need you, not guilt-ridden you.”
“Tony,” Jethro looked destroyed, “shut up and let them get you in the damn pod.”
“Yeah, all right. By the way, I’m denying the Genii’s application for residency.”
“Teyla is sane even when she’s mad, so let her come up with a plan for what to do with whoever’s left.”
Jethro’s lips pressed into a tight line, but he nodded.
Tony finally let go of his husband’s hand and let himself surrender to healing.
* * *
Tony blinked, knowing immediately he was in one of the private rooms in the infirmary. There was a fully medical wing, but the infirmary was reserved for the mission staff and serious medical emergencies.
He didn’t feel groggy or anything, and all the pain was gone. His hand was held tightly, and he looked over at his husband, who was watching him closely. “Hey. I think I’m alive.”
Jethro just shook his head. “Please stop trying to not be alive.” His expression became tight and pained. “Please.”
Someone cleared their throat and Tony looked over to Patrick, who was holding Isabelle who was deeply asleep. “Hey, Patrick. Thought you were on baby duty.”
“Well, one of my sons got himself stabbed today and so my plans changed. Dante is with Ronon, but this one wouldn’t settle until she got to see you.”
Dr. Lam came in, touching Patrick as she moved past. She stepped up to Tony’s bedside. “Healing took a little longer than we expected, but not by much. I’d like to keep you through two blood pressure checks, one lying down and one seated. And then you’re coming to our apartment for dinner so I can keep an eye on you for a couple more hours.”
“I feel fine.”
“I’m sure you do.” She patted his arm. “I’m sure you don’t think any of that was a suggestion.”
Tony sighed. “Yes, ma’am.”
“John will be in shortly to brief you. Patrick and I will be back in half an hour to spring you.”
Patrick passed Isabelle to Jethro then squeezed Tony’s free hand before leaving with Carolyn.
Tony sighed and looked at his husband. “Are you okay?”
Jethro opened his mouth then closed it again. Finally, he shook his head. “In the pod, when the worst of the damage was healing, you started to glow a little.”
“Hey…” He tugged at Jethro’s hand, wanting him closer. “Put her on the bed.” Izzy slept like the dead, all sprawling limbs. Jethro put her on the other side of Tony then leaned down and pressed their mouths together. “I can’t lose you.”
“Jethro, listen to me. I’ll always come back to you.”
Jethro looked destroyed. “They let you come back so you could do all this stuff, but it’s done. We’re beating the wraith. They wouldn’t let you come back again.”
“Oh, Jethro, no…” Tony felt this huge well of love. “I never knew that you didn’t understand. We could have had all this whether I came back or not. The de-ascension was what I wanted. I got the deal for Pegasus and the people back home, but I came back for you.”
Jethro pressed his face against Tony’s arm, breaths coming in shuddery gasps. “Don’t leave me.”
Tony stroked his hand over his husband’s hair and waited for the storm to pass.
When John entered, Jethro sat up again and cleared his throat, accepting the coffee John passed him with a nod.
John gave Tony a once-over, his expression tight. “You okay?”
“I’m fine. Gonna be out of here in twenty. Want to fill me in?”
“Right after you were beamed out, Oma showed up, looking furious. The Genii and all their belongings disappeared. All we got out of Oma was that they’d have a new home and never come near us again. She wouldn’t expound further. Their plan was to get on Atlantis and build a bomb, even if it took them years. They’d have never gotten that past Atlantis herself, but there’s a reason we’re so careful about who knows the level of monitoring she does. We need those tactical advantages.”
Tony sighed and rubbed his forehead. “Well, as much as I hate a mystery, I’m not sad to see the last of them.”
John nodded. “Me either. Lorne set up a formal debrief for tomorrow morning.” He patted Tony’s hand. “We’re all meeting at Dad’s, so I’ll see you soon. I need to go pry Rodney away from whatever he’s caught up in.”
Tony sat in quiet, just holding on to his husband and his daughter until he felt Isabelle stir.
Bright blue eyes blinked up at him, brow furrowed. She sat up and looked him over from head to toe then she pursed her lips. “You got hurt, Daddy.”
“I am. Are you okay?”
She nodded, curls bouncing having escaped their pigtails. “But I did my legos before you came home.”
“Oh, that’s very impressive.”
“I won the bet, Daddy,” she said patiently.
Tony fought a smile. “Indeed you did. I won’t try to put socks on your for a week.”
“Until I’m a grownup.”
“I did not agree to those terms, young lady.” He tickled her stomach and she giggled.
“No socks until I’m as big as you.”
“No socks for a week. Those were the terms, and we have to live with our bargains, miss.” He tweaked one of her curls. She threw herself at him, hugging tightly. Tony held on tight and stared at Jethro, who was smiling as he watched over his family.
Tony decided he was very happy with his bargains.