- Death-Minor Character
“I want to be.”
He felt Spencer’s words reverberate in the hollow he’d had behind his ribs since the day he came Online. He felt a smile stretch across his face, knew it was bright, and far too cheerful considering that the other man was still battling the onslaught of his new empathy Then Tony turned and met that gaze of blue and grey and green, and he felt the smile turn soft and reverent.
He heard Reid’s breath hitch, then rush out with his response. “Sentinel.”
The hole in his chest tightened, as if it were trying to grow smaller and couldn’t quite manage it. He wondered if the look of uncertainty and happiness on Spencer’s face meant that he felt something similar. He didn’t get a chance to find out, his question interrupted as a knock sounded on the door, quiet but jarring.
The door opened just enough to let the sound of Penelope’s voice filter clearly through the soundproofing. “Tony? Spence? The team from the Center is here.”
He heard Wilde growl, soft but threatening. It took a moment for him to recognize that he was growling as well, the suddenly fierce rumble in his chest spilling out on instinct more than intention. Tony swallowed hard, took a deep purposeful breath and looked back over to check on the other agent. He cursed under his breath at the way Reid was hunched against the side of the desk, shoulders rounded like he was trying to fold in on himself.
“Sorry. I don’t know why I-” he swallowed the rest, a part of him knowing exactly why he had reacted as he had to the thought of other people near his Guide. Uttering another apology, he moved to stand, determined to let in the people who had been specifically trained to help the newly Online. He only got halfway off the ground, his movement halted by the sudden feel of a hand wrapped tightly around his wrist.
“Wait. I’m not-” The grip on Tony’s wrist tightened, pulled him every so slightly back towards where they had been sitting as Reid continued. “Not yet. Please?”
Tony nodded, gaze locked on his Guide as he sat back down. He didn’t bother saying anything to Garcia, he could hear Derek saying, “they’re not quite ready,” to someone out in the hall before the door clicked shut once more. Their eyes stayed locked for several silent moments before the Guide looked away and started to worry his lower lip with his teeth.
DiNozzo forced himself to look away as well, taking the opportunity to let his eyes fall shut and his head fall back against the desk. For all that it felt like time had slowed and most of the rest of the world had disappeared the instant he had seen Reid and recognized him as his Guide, it also seemed like everything had moved too fast and he hadn’t quite caught his breath yet. He’d gone from frustrated and unsure that he would ever find his Guide to having him right there but not being able to do what he really wanted. He refused to put any pressure at all on the younger agent, no matter how his instincts screamed at him to Bond before the chance slipped away.
There would be chances, he knew. There was plenty of time to get to know one another before they made any permanent commitments. Besides, being newly Online and probably not too far from empathic overload was hardly the right time for Spencer to even be making a decision he wouldn’t be able to take back. Especially an emotional decision considering he most likely couldn’t fully separate his own feelings from any other empathic input he might be getting, shielding or no shielding.
Tony ignored the desperate little voice inside him that pointed out a Bond would offer them both the kind of stability that was not available for Online Gifted any other way. Instead, he took a moment to revel in the fact that he had found his Guide, been accepted by him. Everything else could wait. Except Reid, who he could hear shifting around from his seat on the carpet next to him.
Reopening his eyes, the Sentinel quickly took stock of the stiff posture and pained expression. No, it didn’t look like Reid could wait long at all. “How can I help?” Tony asked gently.
Spencer darted a glance at him, then looked away again. “What’s your opinion on Imprinting?” Despite the uncertain look on his face, the new Guide’s voice was quite matter of fact.
DiNozzo felt his eyebrows lower a little as he tried to figure out what exactly the other man was asking. “Imprinting?”
Reid gave a short nod. “Imprinting. To use one’s gifts after coming Online to recognize the other member of a pair and accept them into one’s own baseline. For a Sentinel this includes grounding one’s senses entirely on a Guide whereas as Guide would incorporate the Sentinel’s shielding by merging their empathic auras.”
His eyebrows went back up at the rapid recitation. Tony would bet anything it was word-for-word what he would find in the younger man’s S&G college textbook. “I’m not quite sure what it is that you’re looking for.”
Spencer cleared his throat. “The amount of empathic noise is far larger than I would have expected. And this room has decent shielding. I- I’m not at all comfortable with the idea of leaving with it all so… loud.”
“I can only imagine how overwhelming this is for you. But you don’t have to rush into anything just so you’re not in pain. The Online Response Team has Guides trained specifically to help in this situation, they can buffer you until we get to the Center.”
His words didn’t seem to be as reassuring as he was going for. Reid stared silently at his hand where it was still stroking Wilde’s head. The leopard looked almost blissed out. His human however, started to worry that he had somehow said the wrong thing when the Guide finally spoke. His voice was quieter and a little uncertain.
“When I was a kid, I absolutely loved the idea of being a Guide. I had the concept of matches and bonds built up in my head to a ridiculous degree. Then when I was old enough to understand what it meant for my mom to have schizophrenia, I tried to accept the fact that I was most likely externally Dormant. Then I tried to just not think about it at all. But now I’m here, and the world is screaming in my head. I feel like this weight is hovering, waiting to crush me. Like I’ll wake up and this will all be a dream.”
Tony ran a hand over his face with a rather mirthless laugh. “I actually know almost exactly how you feel. Once I got past 25 I gave up the idea that I would come Online. And it was… hard, to think it would never happen for me.” He took a deep breath, allowing the scent of Guide, the scent of Reid to calm him. “I agree that an Imprint would probably settle more than just our gifts, and I won’t deny you one if that’s what you want. But… How confident are you that the empathic input you’re getting from other people isn’t influencing that decision?”
He waited for the other man to respond, hoping that his own fear that Spencer’s willingness to Imprint might not be completely his own. Given the man’s previous uncertainty, Tony was rather surprised by the way he seemed to square his shoulders before he answered in a rather definitive tone.
“I don’t want to go to the Center without something solid. I want an Imprint. The question is, what do you want, Sentinel?”
He couldn’t help the hope that surged through him. Because the only thing he wanted more than an Imprint was a Bond, and he couldn’t possibly allow them to make such a permanent decision when Reid was no doubt still struggling with the trauma of coming Online the way he did. It didn’t take a genius, after all, to figure out what could have been so emotionally overwhelming to force him Online only hours after he had to kill a man for the first time. Tony swallowed past the urge to bury his nose immediately in the curve of that slender neck.
“I will take anything you are comfortable giving. If that’s an Imprint, if that’s a Bond, if that’s only a damn empathic tether, I want it. I just want you Guide.”
They just stared at each other, the air between them charged and expectant. Then Wilde let out a huff, stood, came around behind his charge and gave him a solid shove with his big head. Tony had to catch his balance to keep from landing on his Guide, or his face. While he got himself solidly upright, Archimedes let out a short screech, launched off of Garcia’s desk and practically dive-bombed his charge. Spencer tumbled to the side when he ducked and covered his head with both arms to keep from being hit in the face. Despite already being on the floor, the abrupt motion sent him colliding solidly with his Sentinel.
As Tony wrapped an arm around Reid’s shoulders and helped the other man sit back up, he let out a laugh. “Well, I guess we don’t need to ask their opinions.”
Spencer crinkled his nose in what DiNozzo silently thought was an adorable display, the creases in the corners of his eyes finally looking to be carved more from mirth than from pain. “No, I think they’ve made themselves clear enough.”
Some of the humor faded replaced with something Tony could only call soft. “To be just as clear, you want to Imprint, right?”
Tony pushed himself to his feet, then held out a hand to help the other man up as well, his eyes never once leaving Reid’s. He didn’t speak until they were standing in the middle of the dark office, only inches between them. “Yes, Spencer Reid. I want to Imprint.” He began to walk slowly forward, using both hands to gently move the younger man backwards, only stopping when his back was flush to the wall and Tony was flush against him. “I want to Imprint the sight of your face, the sound of your heartbeat, the smell and feel your skin.”
He didn’t need to adjust his sound dials at all to hear the deep breath his words forced out of the other man. “Oh good. Let’s do that.”
Tony laughed again, just a little as he allowed himself to press his nose into Reid’s neck, drawing it slowly up the tempting column until it was nestled behind his ear. He inhaled long and deep. He lost himself in his senses and in his Guide. He reveled in the shift he felt when his new baseline settled into place. He shivered through the ghostly touch of Spencer’s mind on his when he blended their auras.
When they were done, shirts were unbuttoned clear to their waists and both men were glassy eyed but steady, their gifts not as heavy a weight as they had been before. It took several minutes for them to come back to themselves at which point Spencer blushed and Tony smiled as they made themselves presentable. Then the Sentinel held his hand out, gaze warm and voice smooth. “Ready?”
The Guide didn’t even look at the door, didn’t look uncertain or hesitant. He just took the hand offered and with a confident voice replied, “Yes. I’m ready now.”
“I think I’m just about ready to go,” Tony admitted as he zipped up the duffle he’d been using over the last four days.
Packing the bag for their stay at the Center had been a small logistical issue. Even with a full Imprint, the idea of leaving Spencer even long enough to grab his go bag from his office had been unmanageable. Derek had ended up getting it and bringing it to his fellow Sentinel for Wednesday night. Garcia and Morgan had gotten his key before leaving, packed a few other things for him, and dropped them off after work on Thursday. Thankfully, having his Sentinel and having already formed a solid Imprint with him, had stabilized the new Guide enough that even considering the way he’d come Online, Sarah and Collin had allowed them to check out Saturday morning so long as Tony stayed with the other man over the weekend to make sure he didn’t have any problems settling in.
Despite a few awkward moments as the couple got to know each other in less than ideal – or private – circumstances, the arrangement had worked out well. But it was only temporary, and with the decision as to who would be moving in with who still up in the air Sunday night meant DiNozzo needed to go home so he could get ready for work the next day. And repack, because Derek had obviously let his Guide pack the first time. Tony really wasn’t sure why he had some of things he did in that bag. It made him a little uneasy about what he might find back at his apartment.
Brushing aside that thought, he glanced over to see if the other man had heard him. From the pensive expression on Reid’s face, he assumed he had and just hadn’t wanted to respond. Tony left his bag on the couch with a sigh, and made his way over to set a hand on his Guide’s shoulder. “Spence?”
Hazel eyes met his, then glanced away without a word.
“Maybe I should just grab some new stuff tonight and come back? I could drive you to work in the morning?” He tried to keep his tone light so Spencer wouldn’t feel pressured to let him stay another night just because Tony really, really didn’t want to go. He was pretty sure he’d never slept as well as he had the last few nights with his Guide beside him. Not to mention waking each morning and having Reid’s face be the first thing he saw. It settled something inside him to know his Guide, his match, was within reach.
Before he could propose another alternative, Spencer looked back over again. “You said you wanted whatever I felt comfortable giving.”
The words made him frown briefly in confusion. Then smile as they reminded him of what had followed. The Imprint hadn’t been sexual, per say, but it had been intense enough, pleasurable enough, that the memory had made one aspect of sharing a bed with his Guide a little uncomfortable. Blinking away the mental images that started to form, Tony focused on the conversation at hand. “I did. I meant it. I still mean it. If you’re not ready to play musical apartments, Spence, we can-”
“No!” the profiler said, cutting him off with enough vehemence to have DiNozzo lean back slightly in surprise. “Sorry,” he said at a more normal volume. “What I meant was I still want to stay a week at each before we make the decision. I just also wanted to say that I feel good. My shields are strong, I’m as steady as I can get without a Bond. I’m comfortable.”
Tony closed the space between them, one hand settling on the side of his Guide’s face, thumb brushing gently over the nearly-faded bruise from the case in Illinois. “What are you saying, Spence?” he whispered.
“Would you want to Bond if I said I was comfortable with it?”
“Would you be comfortable with it?” he countered, causing Reid to roll his eyes.
“Answer the question.”
Tony swallowed. “Yes. I would want to Bond with you. I have wanted to Bond with you since the moment I laid eyes on you.” He cocked his head to the side and smirked. “Well maybe not the first moment, because I’m pretty sure I was edging close to a feral episode at that point. But a few minutes after that, I wanted to Bond with you. Hell, I think I would have seriously considered it after only having smelled you.”
Spencer rolled his eyes again, but before he could repeat himself, Tony continued. “The question is, do you want to Bond. Really want it? Because you’ve been Online barely five days. There’s no rush. You can take as long as you need to decide one way or the other.”
“I don’t need time, Tony. I need you. So if you could stop trying to give me a damn out that would be nice.”
He felt something hot and tight in his chest, behind his ribs where the hollow feeling had lessened but not disappeared. His other hand rose so he was holding Spencer’s face with both hands, and leaned down just a little and rested his forehead on Reid’s. Eyes closed, faces almost touching, their breaths warmed each other’s lips.
“Bond with me, Guide,” he asked on a whisper.
“Yes. I will Bond with you, Sentinel,” Spencer responded, the voice rich and warm as he found his mental remote controls and turned the volume up on one sense after another until he was almost drowning in Guide.
The heartbeat he had already memorized pounded loud and new in his ears. The breath that still hit his mouth, hot and wet on every exhale, echoed through him. Tony began walking, pushing him backwards gently the same way he had when they’d Imprinted. But instead of stopping when they met the wall of Garcia’s office, the continued until they were sprawled out on the bed.
And then he breathed. He smelled. That scent that had first caught his attention, first tempted the instincts inside him. It filled his nose and left him dizzy. But it wasn’t enough. So he buried his face in Spencer’s neck, the dip at the base of his throat. The skin of his chest and stomach as he pulled the t-shirt over his Guide’s head. The length of his legs and the soles of his feet once the pants were gone.
He turned Reid onto his front, ears drinking in the panting, whimpers that spilled out of him as Tony ran his nose along every inch. Then he straddled lean hips and looked. He leaned close and took in the sight of every pore and every hair. He ran his sensitive fingers over each minute detail only he could see. When they were facing each other again and the Sentinel’s own clothes had been discarded, he lowered his weight on the other man and just felt the heat of him.
Green eyes met hazel and he spoke for the first time since they’d started the process with the purposeful declaration require to initiate a primary bond. “Your turn.”
His words had come out hoarse and almost slurred. Spencer’s were not better when he said, “taste.”
“Your turn. Please, Spence. Want to feel it.”
He felt it. Not the ghostly touch of the other’s mind that had occurred during the Imprint, but a caress so strong it almost hurt. Then there was an odd sensation, like he was being shaken on the inside, his thoughts stirred and blended until they weren’t just his anymore, but a combination of him and Spence. His shields, which had become as familiar as his own face in the years since he came Online, were stretched and woven with something more.
It was too much. It was all too much. He couldn’t wait another instant. Tony pushed himself up so there was enough space between them for his head to dip and his lips to trace all that gorgeous skin. He brushed kisses, small and light, heavy and lingering, but all so very chaste despite the fact that his tongue darted out, taking just a taste of skin and sweat and Guide. He tasted everywhere he’d felt and seen and smelled, and he listened to the new sounds Reid made as he did so.
The only thing he didn’t kiss or taste was the temptation that lay heavy between the younger man’s thighs. He knew what would happen if he did, and neither one were ready for that. No matter what Spencer was muttering under his breath as he placed one last kiss on his lips.
Tony took a moment to process the feast of sensory input. To wallow in Spencer, before he dropped onto the mattress beside him, sense drunk and loose limbed. He let the slowing breaths of his Bonded ease him out of the near overstimulation brought on by the bonding. DiNozzo smiled as the silence was broken only a few minutes later.
“You know. Statistically speaking 50% of mid-level pair bonds are considered secondary, or sexual bonds, and 20% of the ones that start as primary or platonic eventually become secondary. And I would give us less than a 5% chance of testing as level 4 now that we’re Bonded. Which means we’re now high-level. And only 25% of high-level pairs have a primary bond and a quarter of them become secondary bonds at some point. We should just accept that our primary Bond will, at some point in our lives, become a secondary Bond. We might as well just get it over with, don’t you think?”
He couldn’t help but laugh as he rolled onto his side so he could see the other man’s face more clearly. “We’ve only known each other five days, Spencer. Don’t you think it’s a little soon to be taking that step?”
Hazel eyes narrowed in challenge. “Our empathic auras are completely blended, our shields are woven together so closely there’s no difference between them. I’m in your head and you’re in mine. Are you saying you don’t know me, Sentinel?”
Tony ran a hand gently over Spencer’s flushed cheek. “I know the Guide.” He shifted until he was braced on his forearms once again, one on either side of Reid’s head, his body settled fully along the entire length of the one beneath him. “I want to get to know the man.”
Newly Bonded Sentinel, Tony DiNozzo leaned down and pressed a slow, chaste kiss on his Guide’s lips before pulling back and meeting his gaze. Spencer Reid, newly Bonded Guide, stared up at him for a moment. Then his voice drifted over the telepathic bond they now shared.
“Ready when you are, Sentinel.”