A/N: Well, here it is... the final chapter! This has been *so* much fun and thank you to everyone who read and reviewed. More reviews always welcome!
I have to thank Alder again... without her the Repetition Fairy would have had me only using maybe 12 adjectives in the entire fic :-p she has helped me tremendously. *flying-taggle-glomps the Tree*
Disclaimer: None of Mr B's amazing characters are mine, neither is NCIS, everything else is.
Gibbs grunted as he carried another box down from Tony's apartment. As the lease was up in a month anyway they had decided to just not renew. With the Council having decided to put no time-limit on Tony's probation, there was really no point in hanging onto the place indefinitely. Gibbs was thankful his spare room had a large walk-in closet, Tony had an impressive amount of clothing. He also wondered how on earth the younger man had time to watch the massive DVD collection they had boxed up.
The last three days had been fairly manic, Tony had his evaluation to prepare for so he could return to NCIS, they had redecorated the spare bedroom…Tony's room now. That had been an adventure in itself, Tony and Rhi had painted the walls a gentle dove-grey. Tony had wisely decided to let Rhi make all the decorating choices, it would be less painful in the long run.
The play fight that started during decorating had ended up with Gibbs standing in the doorway, glaring at the two mortified youngsters - a stray splash of paint had missed Tony and hit Gibbs as he had come in to check on them. Jethro looked at his paint bedecked pack members and fought down a chuckle. They looked so bedraggled and sorry for themselves, but had obviously been having tremendous fun until caught. The Alpha sighed and simply closed the door before heading to change out of his now spattered shirt.
Tony and Rhi looked at each other, gulped and quickly finished painting the walls. They had been nearly done when some wicked urge had DiNozzo dab a spot of paint on the tip of the redhead's nose, the rest - as they say - was history. Once the quick-dry paint was on the walls they peeled the protective plastic off the floor - the finished room was completed with slate-grey and midnight blue bedding and cushions, dark wood furniture matching the floor and trim. Overall it was welcoming yet tranquil, an ideal refuge from the outside world. Tony's own queen-sized bed and his drawers had already been brought from the old apartment and within a few hours the room was ready for him to move into, though he would spend a couple more nights on the sofa. They still weren't sure how his physical changes had affected his plague scarred lungs so they weren't risking him with paint fumes just yet.
Meanwhile, Gibbs was in the family room, trying to work out where to put Tony's huge plasma television. After he had taken some measurements he cleared the furniture away from the chosen wall and got to work. Using heavy duty planks, he soon had a custom built media unit complete with shelves for the extensive DVD collection and speaker system that had come with Tony's TV. Even Gibbs had to admit, watching the game on this thing would be fantastic.
He had just sat down with a beer, takeout menu in hand, when two sheepish and freshly scrubbed people stepped into the room. Saying nothing, Gibbs just nodded to the sofa and let them sit in silence whilst he ordered some food. He had already decided that they weren't going to get any further punishment than they had inflicted upon themselves, Tony was so full of energy and nerves about returning to DC that Gibbs was just grateful the house was still standing.
Letting them know they were forgiven, the silver-haired man offered them a beer each, smiling at the surprised relief on their faces. Soon they were all enjoying one of Tony's movies, Air Force One - a film Gibbs actually enjoyed - and sharing a good meal. Looking round his new family, Gibbs smiled. Things were finally looking up.
Tony came bouncing out of the psychiatrist's office, waving a piece of paper.
"Cleared for full active duty Boss, effective immediately! These last few weeks have been interesting and all, but I can't wait to get back…see how Tim and Ziva and Abby and Ducky and…" Tony was babbling in his excitement.
"DiNozzo!" his boss barked, giving him a light thwap to the back of his head. "I get the idea, you'll see everybody tomorrow. Right now we are heading out of the city to meet up with Rhi and Den, you need a run."
Since his transformation Tony had become even more restless and energetic than before - Gibbs hoped that it would settle down soon. Rhi was remarkably in control for a young were-wolf, due to their longevity they were as energetic as children well into their forties. It was one reason that so many ended up in intensely physical careers like the military. Gibbs had been mildly surprised at just how much this had affected Tony, he had really become just like a True-Born in this respect.
They soon arrived at the local reserve where Gibbs led Tony to a small fishing shack by a stream. They used it as a place to stash their clothes and change. Seeing the others had already left their clothes there, Gibbs led his protégé out to find them. Tony picked up on Rhi's scent and after a mental check for permission, tilted his head back and howled. They headed towards the answering call at a steady lope.
The air was fresh and crisp, snow was predicted within a few days. The wolves ran through the forest, Tony and Rhi yipping to each other and playing. Gibbs and Den were much more sedate, forming a tentative truce, though it was obvious Gibbs didn't like the Council assigning someone to watch them. Once they had burned off some of Tony's excess energy they headed back to the City, Den to his new apartment, Gibbs and his pack to his house.
After yet another huge meal Gibbs sent the younger pair off to their rooms, he had a couple of calls to make before he called it a night. For once there were no protests as both DiNozzo and Rhiannon were yawning non-stop. Rhi now had what was once Kelly's room…no longer left empty and forgotten. She had decorated it in cool sage green with shades of the forest for her bedding and curtains, again with dark wood.
Once the others were upstairs Gibbs headed out to the back deck, the air cold and still. Christmas was only a couple of weeks away and it showed in the weather. Pulling out his cell he called the team leader of the investigating team.
"Martinez…where are we on the Lepatier case? I don't want any surprises when DiNozzo comes in to work in the morning."
"Gibbs, thought you'd be calling soon. Look, things have been crazy whilst you've been gone. Lepatier is dead, shot during an escape attempt. Ducky did the autopsy so talk to him for details. Interpol, the Germans, the French…heck we even have a British guy on our case. No-one is happy this guy died in our care, he's wanted all over the place for these murders. At least they are solved though, eh? How's Tony doin'? Marjory, my wife, she's got a casserole for you guys, we heard he's gotta stay with you awhile so she wanted to help out," the reply came.
Gibbs growled, with Lepatier dead there was no chance to question him, or arrange for him to be taken into the Council's custody. Jeni had hoped to get him placed into her facility so he could be tried under Pack law. On the other hand, there would be no trial, no need for Tony to ever see him again. The man would fade into anonymity and soon be forgotten by the human world.
"What about the evidence? That been handed over to anyone?" the senior agent asked.
"Well, most of it has gone back to France but the courier was hijacked. The only things taken were a talisman and an old book - happened in Paris though so out of our hands," Martinez told him, before yawning widely.
"Ok, well, thanks Jim, I'll see you tomorrow. Tell Marjory thanks for me will'ya?" Gibbs snapped his phone shut.
A quick call to Peter McLeod confirmed the book was now safe and back where it belonged. Gibbs headed to bed, he was going to need his rest if he was to deal with an excited DiNozzo tomorrow. As much as Tony had enjoyed those last couple of weeks in the retreat - after learning control over his powers - Gibbs knew he was a city boy at heart and would only be truly happy in an urban environment.
The next morning went as Gibbs had expected. He had struggled to keep Tony to his morning routine of run, shower, breakfast and dress for the day. After cajoling, bribing then outright threatening DiNozzo with more time off, the younger agent finally settled down and did as he was told. The way his knee bounced whilst sitting at the breakfast table showed how wound up he still was, though. Even the eight mile run that morning had done little to sap his energy.
Leaving Rhi to her own devices, Gibbs eventually took Tony in to HQ, they were still there by oh-eight-hundred and beat both the other members of the team. After assigning a stack of cold case files to the fidgeting agent, Gibbs headed out for coffee. He had a feeling he was going to need it in unprecedented quantities today.
On his return he saw Ziva and Tim had arrived. They were looking confused as Tony continued working, Gibbs had warned him on pain of death that he had better still be at it when Gibbs returned. Beyond a cheery greeting he had ignored them - when Gibbs used the 'Alpha Tone' as Tony now thought of it, he didn't dare disobey. He was still being heavily influenced by the Council and their warning about screwing up.
"Go on then DiNozzo, you can talk to the team," Gibbs freed Tony from the work, smiling slightly at the way he rocketed out of the seat.
The two other agents blinked at the sudden turn of events - having not seen Gibbs yet, they saw no reason for Tony's turn-about in behaviour. The senior field agent gave his surprised team-mates a hug and started talking a mile a minute, asking about Tim's book signing tour and asking after Ziva's aunt Rebekah in France.
Ever since Ziva had applied for - and received - her American citizenship, her father had been trying to alienate her from her family. Ziva had been incredibly grateful for the chance to go to her relatives and strengthen ties with others who had left Israel.
"So… Zee-vah! How was your trip? Where did you go? I hope the family is ok, didja get me a souvenir?" Tony bounced on the spot, obviously happy to be back.
"Tony! It is good to see you," Ziva hugged him back happily. "My trip was fine, I saw my Aunt Rebekah in Paris and some cousins in England. They were pleased to see me and hear that I have left Mossad. It was nice to spend time with them, though I am glad to be home. I did bring you a gift… let me get it"
Tony laughed as she handed him a book entitled "The Language of Love: The Hundred Most Popular French Chat-up Lines." The book was actually a series of articles on relationships, mostly tongue-in-cheek but several good tips hidden amongst them. Tony loved it, especially the ridiculous section on fashion.
Tim and Gibbs also appreciated their gifts, a pair of finely crafted driving gloves for McGee and a large bag of exclusive French Roast coffee beans for Gibbs. The presents for Abby, Ducky and Palmer could wait till later. Ziva smiled as the team examined their gifts, delight obvious in their faces. For the first time in many years she felt truly at home.
Tim regaled the team with stories of his tour, getting laughs for tales of crazed fans. He had one fan follow him around trying to get him to add a shy audio tech called Robert to the team, apparently writing fan fiction to insert himself into the stories was no longer enough. Then there was the woman who showed up in a trench coat and when Tim asked where to sign, she dropped it revealing nothing but stockings and heels as her outfit underneath. Tony had appreciated that one, nearly falling off his chair as he imagined a stammering, blushing Probie.
"So…did you?" Tony managed to ask.
"Did I what?" came the confused reply.
"Did you sign…you know…where she wanted you to?" The grin nearly cracked the senior field agent's face.
"Ah…umn... No…I was going to, but security took her away," Tim still looked mildly annoyed by it.
Tony grinned, about to rib the other man some more when he was almost knocked flying by an excited figure in red and black.
"Tony, Tony, Tony! You're back! When did you get here? Why didn't you come down to the lab? How are you?" the Goth squeezed him as hard as she could.
"Abs…Abs…need to breathe," Tony said, gasping as he was released. "I got here at eight and Gibbs told me to sit and stay…so I did. Was gonna be down soon though, I promise. Am fine, though am gonna be staying with Gibbs for a while, shrinks' orders"
Abby bounced around a bit more, fussing over Tony as much as she could. She then went on to give the rest of the team a spirited hug and kissed Gibbs on the cheek before giving him a jaunty salute - with the wrong hand as usual - and heading for the elevator.
"Look after Tony for me, Bossman, we just got him back again" she called over her shoulder.
Tony sat back at his desk, although he had enjoyed the welcome, it still felt wrong somehow. Something was bothering Gibbs, his new found empathy was all but screaming the information to him. Outwardly the team leader looked relaxed and happy to be back after their long break but Tony just knew that was for show.
"So…" Tony said, trying to sound nonchalant, though judging by Gibbs' expression he was failing…at least as far as his Alpha was concerned. "What's happening with Gerard and the poisonings?"
Ziva and McGee shrugged and turned to Gibbs, they hadn't been filled in either yet. All three of the younger agents knew he would have found out that information by now. He kept his face carefully blank, jerking his head to indicate they should follow he led them to a conference room. A couple of calls also had Ducky, Jimmy and Abby join them. They all sat, waiting for him to fill them in. Gibbs just stared back calmly, only standing again when Vance entered the room. Tony couldn't help but notice that Ducky and Gibbs were either side of him, this couldn't be good.
"Director…" Gibbs nodded, handing control over to his boss before once again sitting, one hand on Tony's shoulder.
"I asked Gibbs to bring you here for the debrief as it is more private. I'll start with the good news, we found enough evidence to tie Lepatier in with almost thirty murders across the US and Europe. We also have evidence of theft and embezzlement from his previous employers. There is no sign that he had any accomplices working on any of this with him. He came into the country with a fake passport under the name of René La Brunei, immigration were alerted to the alias after he had already entered the country. Agent DiNozzo…first of all I'm glad to see that you are back with us, you will not have to testify against Lepatier…" the Director looked grim, though his voice was soft.
Tony clenched his fists, the knuckles white. He knew there was bad news coming and the waves of emotion from the people around him were hard to take. Though his empathy was stronger with were-wolves, Gibbs had warned him that he would still have to mask human emotions, but the lesson was harder to apply in practice than in theory. Trembling slightly he leaned into Gibbs hand, accepting the reassurance from his Alpha, he knew Gibbs would keep him safe.
"Gerard Lepatier was killed two weeks ago on transfer from the secure hospital to prison. He attempted to escape and was shot by the two agents guarding him. The entire incident was caught on tape, so there is no question about the circumstances. Both agents' bullets got him in the chest and any one could have been fatal. Due to him dying on our watch we have been having a lot of problems with Interpol and various European authorities. Agent DiNozzo, we have several representatives who wish to interview you so they can complete their own investigations as you are the only surviving victim. Agent Gibbs has already submitted the formal report to us and we have forwarded that on, they just have a few parts they would like to get clarification on. Agent Gibbs, your team is still desk-bound until this is fully sorted and cleared through JAG. Any questions?" Vance chewed on his toothpick as he looked over the gathered group.
Tony stared at his hands. Thankfully they weren't shaking, and outwardly he looked mostly calm and collected. He was pale though and everyone could see he had lost the spark and energy he had arrived with. The news of Lepatier's demise had raised a lot of mixed feelings. While he was glad the man had survived his attack - meaning his beast wasn't a murderer - he was angry that he couldn't face him again and get answers, look him in the eye and prove that he, Anthony DiNozzo, had survived and come out stronger than ever. Then again, now he was dead he wouldn't be running around and telling people about were-wolves. Knowing Tony's luck if he had gotten on TV and announced the fact he had turned the agent into a Lycan…someone would believe him and Tony would have suffered the consequences.
Gibbs took Tony down to Ducky's office. The room was now also Tony's unofficial sanctuary, Gibbs had given him orders to head there if he felt things were getting too much. It gave him somewhere quiet to just calm down and refocus himself. The scents were already comforting, the elderly M.E. had left the kettle in there this time and there was a lingering hint of Earl Grey tea in the air. DiNozzo relaxed onto the sofa with a sigh, gratefully accepting the cup he was offered a few minutes later.
"Thanks Ducky, I needed that," the younger man said, a genuine smile on his lips.
"No bother at all Anthony, I'm just happy to see you back with us, and in good health it seems. Now, pander to an old man's wishes and let me look you over." The doctor quietly fussed around the agent, taking new base readings for future comparison. The familiar act of being pampered by Ducky soon had Tony put to rights and he headed up to join Gibbs in the bullpen.
The next few days passed in a whirl of activity, the interviews with the other agencies going off without a hitch - mainly due to Gibbs insisting on sitting in on each one. Tony discovered he could really play the PTSD card and was being clucked over by almost every female in the building. Gibbs didn't mind too much - they had a home cooked meal every night yet none of the were-wolves had to make a thing, casseroles, pot roasts, lasagne and more were delivered by concerned friends every day.
Before Tony knew it, Christmas was upon them. He helped Rhi and Gibbs decorate the house for the season and the manic buying of last minute gifts had even his energy reserves drained. Christmas Eve rolled around and Gibbs had a full house. The three pack members, Den, Ducky, Tim, Ziva, Jimmy and Abby were all gathered together. Jackson Gibbs was coming down, astonished to hear his son had a new pack. Rhi, Ziva and Abby took over the kitchen and were preparing a goose with all the trimmings. Ducky had persuaded them to try the traditional bird along with several other old time additions.
Gibbs propped himself in the doorway and smiled. Tony, Tim, Jimmy and now Abby - on a break from the food - were playing some game on Tony's Xbox 360...Guitar Hero or Rockband or something he thought. Either way they certainly had more enthusiasm than ability if the score and noise was anything to go by. Den was playing dominoes with Ducky, both talking of past travels. Rhi and Ziva were giving the so called music players advice…if you could call Rhi's repeated shrieks of "Use star power!" advice.
Jackson arrived in time for dinner and it was a resounding success. There was a lot of laughter and sharing, friends just enjoying each others company. Tony rose at the end of the meal, tapping a spoon on his glass for attention.
"Guys…I just wanted to say I am so happy you could all make it tonight. Through the years we have shared a lot as a team, some good…some bad…some un-freaking-believable! We have lost friends and made new ones. But I just wanted to say, this last couple of months - well they've been tough - but I discovered something amazing. Not only do I have the best team in NCIS - lab and autopsy crew most definitely included…I also have the best damn family a man could ever hope for. Seriously…you guys are the best, thanks," Tony sat again, his megawatt grin back in place and one hundred percent genuine.
The rest of the table cheered and toasted him with their glasses. They all looked at each other and realised it was true, no matter what…they were family. Den and Jackson looked around the room, even though they were both relatively unknown to the group they had been included, a fact that touched both of their hearts. As one voice the toast was given.
A plaintive voice could then be heard.
"Boss? Now can we watch 'It's a Wonderful Life'…please?"
The movie came on over quiet laughter as everyone settled down comfortably to enjoy the film. A miscellaneous group from all walks of life who had somehow come together and found somewhere to call home.
Tony smiled in the darkened room and repeated it in his mind, knowing the other Lycans would hear him.
AN#2: I have just about finished a little extra for people. A 'missing scene' from their time in the Cabin. It was originally going to be in the main story but interrupted the flow slightly. This week I will start work on the next instalment: Wild in the City
Thank you all again!