The Sentinel/NCIS crossover.
Summary: NCIS Agents Gibbs and DiNozzo learn some of the finer points of sentinel/guide behavior while Jim and Blair debate the nature v. nurture of attraction.
Disclaimer: I dont own anybody. Sadly.
Gibbs started -- the quiet of a very empty building had finally relaxed him enough that his head had stopped pounding. Surprisingly, it had been better here than at his house with its settling joists and leaky kitchen faucet. Even the deep silence of the sawdust-filled basement hadnt worked its usual magic. In deference to Duckys concerns hed taken a cab. Then hed signed himself back in and slumped at his desk, letting the darkened space of the deserted office soothe him.
Now his hand automatically dropped toward his weapon.
"Who are you?"
"Jethro." The gray-haired man did not turn in the direction of soft reprimand but kept his gaze locked on the pair before him. "Im the one who called them."
He hadnt even been aware that the ME was there, but he realized that the older man had probably been sitting watch over him for some time, worried that whatever was happening would happen again.
"The seizures youve been experiencing. I think these gentlemen can help."
"And they make house calls at three in the morning?"
Ducky coughed softly. "I felt you wouldnt want this made public. Although after this afternoon"
Blair Sandburg moved forward only to stop when the -- he forced himself to recognize what the person standing in front of him was -- the sentinel shied back from the intrusion. Despite the other mans backward motion Jim Ellison moved to his side protectively.
"Easy there, Jim." He put a hand on his partners arm, not surprised to find the muscles tensed. "Theyre not all Alex Barnes."
The reply he got back was hissed. "You tell yourself that?"
Stroking Jims forearm absently, Blair focused his attention on the two men in front of them. "What exactly happened this afternoon?"
"He had what looked like a petite mal," explained the medical examiner, a sweet-faced man whose looks matched the gentle accent that Blair had first heard hesitantly explaining that a "friend" told him once he knew someone studying hyperactive senses. Blair had almost hung up until the friend they shared turned out to be Jack Kelso, who had a pair of e-tickets to DC ready and waiting at the check-in of the Cascade airport.
When hed remarked that this must be some "friend" he received from the ex-CIA operative the regular mumbo-jumbo about covert operations and state secrets that Jim was known to launch into if you asked about his Ranger days.
But the man in front of him didnt seem the secret agent type, unless theyd begun recruiting rumpled science nerds. Now the sentinel -- that was a whole other issue of convergence. Like Jim, his whole bearing screamed ex-military.
"You brought him out of it?"
"No," Ducky shook his head, "actually I think Kate did. Kate Todd. She and another of our agents found him. Hed recovered before I got there."
"Fully recovered?" questioned Blair.
"He had a bit of a headache and seemed slightly disoriented."
Blair nodded. "That happens after a zone-out. If theyre bad enough, Jim gets migraines."
"You?" Gibbs frowned in the direction of the taller man. "You have these things too?"
"Not so much now. Not since Blair helped me."
"Helped you." The blue eyes narrowed distrustfully. "He helped you."
Without being aware of it, Jim pressed his partner closer to his side.
The motion did not go unnoticed by the ME. He hastily positioned himself between Gibbs and the pair, breaking the staring contest that seemed to be going on between the agent and the taller man the one Jack had identified as the sentinel.
"You must be tired. While I appreciate your alacrity, there is very little to do at this hour of the morning. Jack had me get a few things." He shuffled in the pockets of his academically tweed and a tad threadbare jacket. "Keycards to Room 132 at the Intercontinental."
Gibbs turned to stare. "Ducky?"
"Called in a few favors, thats all." The ME smiled enigmatically. Gibbs was well aware of the secret underground of favors that connected Donald Mallard with what seemed to be every other medical examiner in a town of any size across the country. But it had never extended to four-star hotels.
"Whered you find these guys?"
"A friend. He knew of an anthropologist whod written -- and revoked -- " he looked at Blair sharply, studying him, "a dissertation on something he called a sentinel. Happened to mention it one day when we were discussing genetic differences in sensory capacity."
Blair watched Jim prowl the corners of the first floor hotel room and lowered his voice, trying not to further irritate the already antsy sentinel.
"You didnt have to come, you know."
"Right," snorted Jim, "like I was going to let you near another fruitcake, alone, just because Kelso owed some guy a favor."
"Being a sentinel doesnt make him a fruitcake, Jim. I mean look at you."
Although, actually, when he did look at him, Jim was on his knees deliberately fraying a corner of the rooms plush carpet.
"Okay, maybe, right now, that wasnt a good example." He observed the short work his partner was making of the cut pile. "Jim, youre in his territory so youre a little edgy. I think you should just leave the flooring alone and come get into bed."
"He was looking at you."
"He was looking at both of us, big guy. Im pretty sure because he thought we were the fruitcakes." Blair patted the bed. "Come on."
His reluctant partner finally made some internal judgment call that the carpeting wasnt out to get them and shuffled his way over to the bed.
"Geez, youre tense." After Jim sank on the side of the mattress, Blair kneaded at the stiff shoulder muscles, Jim leaning into the touch, grunting when the sure fingers hit a particularly tight spot.
Rising up, keeping the soothing rhythm going, Blair balanced on his knees and pressed his mouth against Jims neck, a warm, glancing pressure of teeth and lips. Lifting his chin slightly to allow full access, Jim groaned deeply and Blair moved up the slightly concave curve of the throat, slowing momentarily to gently caress a tender earlobe and suck the sweet skin delicately.
"Screw the carpet," sighed Jim.
The moist breath hung like warm fog in the contours of his ear, the little dips and folds.
"Forget the carpet, big guy "
Strong hands urged him to lay back and when he did, a blissfully familiar weight pressed down on him, a bent leg entrapping his own, an arm like a restraining band around his chest, holding him, grounding him.
The beloved voice returned, bathing the skin with soft warmth. " screw me."
"What is it with sentinels all being these tight-ass military guys?" Blairs forehead scrunched as he observed Gibbs interact with the pair of agents hovering around his desk. "No, wait. That may have something to do with how the whole sentinel thing is expressed in modern day America. I mean where else would someone with a deep-felt need for consistency go?"
"The question, I think, Chief," corrected Jim, "is what is it with guides "
"What?" Blair looked toward the woman who the ME had said successfully brought Gibbs out of his zone the day before, "Kate seems like a perfectly-fit"
"Not her." Jim lowered his voice in deference to the attention they were drawing from the investigative staff. "Him."
"Him?" echoed Blair, practically gaping at the younger male agent. "DiNozzo? You have, what a kind of guide sense now?"
"Smells like a guide."
"Smells like a guide? Jim, you gotta be kidding me."
Blue eyes looked completely innocent. "Im not kidding, Chief. Its like a pheromone-thing."
"So DiNozzos horny; I mean, Jim, look at the guy. Just guessing hes horny isnt much of a stretch."
"He smells like you, Chief."
Blair snorted. "Well you know Im horny."
Jim grinned sweetly down at him. "Yes you are, but this is a different scent. Its a guide thing."
"A pheromone thing and a guide thing. We have got to work on vocabulary building, big guy. How am I supposed to interpret a thing."
Jim looked across at the trio of agents. Gibbs heart rate had picked up as DiNozzo leaned toward him and the senior agent ever so slightly altered his stance in the younger mans direction. "Oh, youll get it, Chief. Its them Im worried about."
"Agent Gibbs. Agent Dinozzo." Blair tried to smile reassuringly. "I think we need to talk alone."
Kate Todd bristled, moving protectively between them in a move worthy of Jim in one of his particularly defensive moods.
"Easy, Todd," Gibbs fixed the -- what had he called himself? -- the guide with a dour look, well aware of the mans partner posturing aggressively in the periphery of his vision. "Anything you have to say can be said in front of my staff."
"I dont think so," cautioned Blair.
"I still think youve got this wrong. One, Tony is not my guide. And, two, if anyone here has enhanced senses, its DiNozzo."
"Really?" Blair perked up considerably. "What exactly do you mean by enhanced."
"Um," Tony shook his head. "My vision is 20/5. My hearing tests up to 30,000 Hz."
"He can pick up perfume from fifty feet away," noted Gibbs.
"Okay, thats different, from what Jim and I experienced but were only one example. For all I know, both the sentinel and guide having similar morphology but different functions could actually be the norm. I have some tests that can determine the acuity of both your senses."
"Chief." Jim put out a hand to slow his partner. "Think you might want to give them a bit before you start feeding them various concoctions of rancid milk."
Gibbs crossed his arms. "Im still not sure what this means."
"It means you have a hell of an advantage in the field, man," observed Blair.
"And its an advantage if I go out every time something gets too intense?"
"Well, no. Zoning is definitely not an advantage, but we can work on that. You can get the zoning down to a bare minimum. Thats where Tony can help. Id suggest you dont get too far away from him when you try to use your senses." Blair noticed the look of annoyance on Gibbs face. "Not forever, just to start with. I suspect youre already using him unconsciously to ground."
Gibbs was silent and Tony looked from Gibbs to Blair and back to Gibbs again uncomfortably.
"You are, arent you?" pressed Blair. "Jim uses my heartbeat. So, is that what youre doing? You hear Tonys heartbeat?"
And the younger agents pulse, Jim noticed, had skittered alarmingly with that particular pronouncement.
Gibbs noticed it, too. The arrhythmia captured his attention, sent him reeling unwillingly back to the first time hed realized he could hear the syncopated beat -- as it came over the cell phone, the erratic pulse almost drowning out Tonys slurred apologetic report as he staggered toward collapse, drugged and disoriented and, through Gibbs own stubborn stupidity, alone in a disserted alleyway. He could hear it skip and speed up, could hear the air leaving Tonys lungs in a soft grunt as his knees gave way and he collapsed, hard from the sound of it, against what was probably the side of a car. Could hear the shallow breathing and the scraping sound of Tonys body being dragged across the asphalt until, finally, the beat and the breath of him faded away altogether.
Tony lunged as Gibbs tilted, suddenly boneless, DiNozzos arms coming around him just in time to protect Gibbs head against his shoulder before his dead weight drove them both to the ground.
"Did he pass out before?" asked Blair worriedly, taking a step towards their side.
"I dont think so, not like this." DiNozzo nodded toward the phone. "Three-nine-zero-two. Its Duckys extension."
Jim was up and dialing while Blair hunkered down beside the agents. DiNozzo shifted so he could get a hand to the carotid.
"Its a little fast." He looked at Blair, eyes desperate. Oh yeah, Jim was right. This was definitely the guide. "Does Jim do this?"
Blair swallowed. "If Jim did this, itd scare the crap out of me."
It wasnt the most reassuring thing to say, but, guide to guide, it was the most honest.
"Im sure hes okay," amended Blair. "This is all new to him. I didnt meet Jim until hed been on for a while. I know he had an incident, right at the beginning, where he kind of lost touch for a minute and let a suspect get away. This could be the same kind of thing."
The body under Tonys hands started to stir and the younger agent began to breathe a little slower, his inhalations unconsciously matching his sentinels
Gibbs opened his eyes and scrambled away from the concerned faces above him.
He only muttered one word, but it was an expletive so Tony figured he was all right.
"You told them youre asking me this."
"They know," said Ducky. That neither Gibbs nor DiNozzo quite approved was not something he felt needed sharing with the young anthropologist.
"Okay, aside from the straight physical stuff that a sentinel has to deal with, theres an emotional component. In a way, with Jim, thats the hardest to deal with. And," admitted Blair, "Gibbs seems a lot like Jim keeping his emotions buried, getting testy over inconsequential things."
"And you think thats a sentinel trait."
"Oh yeah, definitely. A sentinel is the original control freak. In a way they have to be."
The ME frowned. "But you said Anthony also had somewhat enhanced senses, and perhaps you havent been here long enough to notice, but he is the antonym of Jethro."
"Yeah, well, while theyre enhanced, I dont think Tonys senses are in any way out of his control. Hes comfortable with them. Gibbs isnt. Probably cant be. The brain isnt really made to process that much information." Blair laid a thick folder in front of the doctor and smiled a little self-consciously. "This is everything I know about sentinel medicine. When you read it, just remember Im an anthropologist, not an osteopath, okay?"
"So are you planning on telling them?" Jim gestured to the tempting expanse Blairs exposed skin laid out before him in the Intercontinentals sheets.
"Tell them what?" mumbled Blair nosing sleepily against Jims shoulder until Jim slipped his arm up and Blair nestled contentedly against his side.
"Well you warned them about zone-outs and drug interactions. You just going to let them stumble into bed together one night without realizing?"
Blair was suddenly wide awake. "Wait, you think this " he gestured between their bare bodies, " you think this is just a sentinel thing?"
He would have been even more furious if Jim hadnt looked genuinely confused. "If Im a sentinel, doesnt that make everything I do a sentinel thing?"
"No," declared Blair flatly. "It doesnt. You think Im in love with you because I had some genetic imperative that couldnt be denied?"
"Hey," Jim gently cupped Blairs chin. "I didnt mean I just thought ... I mean youve always said "
"I know, Jim," consoled Blair, hushing the stammering with a finger softly pressed against Jims lips, "but Id like to think this was a Jim-and-Blair thing."
"Well maybe theres a Gibbs-and-Tony thing, but theres enough pheromones floating between them to light an orgy."
"Youre mixing your metaphors, Jim," chuckled Blair. "How would you light an orgy?"
Jim licked his lips predatorily. "Come over here and Ill show you."
"Look, Blair, I was a phys ed major, not a "
"Geek?" finished Blair cheerfully, sipping his beer, watching across the bar to where hed paired off the two sentinels to talk. The body posture was still pretty confrontational, but their lips were moving and it wasnt in a snarl. Still, he wasnt taking his eyes off them for too long.
"Hey, some of my best friends are geeks," protested Tony.
"I dont think you have to have a PhD to be a guide. Dont tell Jim, but the jobs mainly keeping his emotions stable."
"Gibbs doesnt have emotions. Well, I take that back -- he has one emotion."
"Pissed off? Jim has that one too." Blair looked around like he expected a sentinel to be lurking near enough to overhear. "Actually Jim is *very* emotional. Hes just buried it six feet deep and finished it off with an overlay of concrete."
From his perch Blair watched as Jim and Gibbs heads swiveled in exact concert to view the passing statuesque and auburn-haired waitress.
"What is it with the redheads?" questioned Tony, following Sandburgs line of sight and grimacing.
"Married three of them."
"Maybe I should be grateful Jim only slept with them," mused Blair.
Tony took a long pull of his beer. "So you think its a sentinel thing?"
"Could be maybe theyre on the lookout for something exotic."
"It doesnt bother you?"
"What? That Jim has an apparently preprogrammed drive to mate with people who have a malfunctioning MC1R gene?"
"So does it work for men, too?" Tony wondered, watching as two pairs of sentinel eyes followed the waitress path back across the barroom. "I mean does he get hot for Carrot Top?"
"God, I hope not," snorted Blair before sobering. "There is, however, something Jim thinks I should warn you about."
"Another something," finished Tony sounding weary.
"Yeah, well, I know its a lot to take in all at once. Youll be fine; just do what comes naturally."
"That might be the one thing you dont want me doing."
"Nah, here I think genetics trumps. You know what to do instinctively. Just like I did. Which isnt to say I didnt screw up some okay, a lot actually at least when it came to Jims resistance to the more mystical aspects."
"And you think Gibbs is going to be any better?" asked Tony, tipping up his bottle for a final swallow.
"Hell touch you."
"Hmm?" responded DiNozzo not following the sudden switch in topic.
"Hes going to have a kind of biological imperative to fill his senses with you. Hell listen for you. Examine you tacitly. Sniff you although that ones a little weird at first. Taste you."
"Yeah, possibly. I assume you noticed Jim and I "
"Cant keep your hands off each other?" finished Tony.
Slightly discomforted, Blair wrapped his arms around his chest. "I didnt think it was that obvious."
Tony shook his head. "Its not. Its just that when Gibbs gets around you"
"Jim goes all Blessed Protector?"
"Blessed Protector?" smirked Tony.
"Yeah, its from that Chinese legend -- if you save someones life they, in turn, have to protect you for the remainder of yours. A sentinel in another sentinels territory is a threat so hes pulling this protector thing, keeping me safe from Gibbs possible retribution. Not that I think Gibbs has any interest in any guide except the one he already has."
"Gibbs?" Tony frowned. "His interest in me basically lies in how high I can jump when he yells."
"Youre underestimating your importance by a wide margin." Blair observed, seeing that the older agent had turned toward the bar, aware of the younger mans discomfort. "How open minded are you, Agent DiNozzo?"
"You open minded enough to see that theres more than two throwbacks in this room?" Blairs hands waved in a familiar pattern that, across the way, Jim was pointing out to Gibbs as "lecture mode". "I think a guide is as much a primitive throwback as a sentinel. Our urges are likewise strong."
"You want to translate that for me?" asked Tony.
"Sure. Jim used to say Id hump a table leg. How bout you?"
DiNozzos eyes widened bluely before he broke down and laughed. "You are not asking me this."
"So its true, then?" presumed Blair.
"I fulfill my needs," Tony reluctantly assured him.
"All of them?"
Blair caught the quick straying of Tonys gaze in Gibbs direction and turned to find two sets of extra-sensitive eyes locked seriously on both of them.
"Taking the easy way out, huh, big guy?" he observed in a whisper that both sentinels must have heard loud and clear as they both ducked their heads in a unison worthy of synchronized swimmers. "Have your own talk, would you?" Blair instructed, a little more forcefully.
"They heard us." Tony sounded a bit dazed.
"Not much you can keep from a sentinel. I know some Zen stuff that helps keep your heart rate steady if youre interested. Good for not wigging them out further when theyre under stress. So," continued Blair, "back to your needs."
"He can hear me," hissed Tony as low as he could manage.
Blair shrugged. "He doesnt have to hear you. He can smell you."
"What the fuck does that mean?"
"Pheromones. Jim, and I trust him on this one, says youre both wafting in them." Blair examined the bed of his thumbnail. "Of course he also says the reason he and I the reason were a couple is that a sentinel and guide probably always " he spread his hands in mute explanation.
"Youre saying cause Gibbs is now a sentinel and Im supposed to be this guide person that we we "
"Not like you havent thought of it before." Blair observed gently. He shot a quick cease-and-desist glare at Gibbs whod tilted his head in what, until now, Blair had always thought was a Jim-specific tip-your-head-and-listen pose. He noticed Jim laying a hand softly on Gibbs wrist to distract the man. If Jim wasnt going to actually say the words, hed at least he was lending a hand.
"That I want Gibbs was never the question," replied Tony after a long pause. "The problem would be what would Gibbs want with me?"
"Well I dont think thats a problem." Blair watched as the older agent rose from the booth and stalked toward them, Jim hanging back at his right shoulder.
"Uh Gibbs." Tony swallowed convulsively before managing to paste on a crooked smile.
"Look, why dont Jim and I go somewhere else? Right, Jim?"
Jims shoulders were still tensely held the whole invasion-of-territory thing still rearing its ugly head only relaxing minutely when Blair took his hand.
Still, he worried, looking back at the awkward stances of the two men theyd left behind. "You sure theyre going to be okay,"
"Let nature take its course, Jim." Blair patted Jims stiff back. "Let nature take its course."
"So, does this mean you agree that you and me its a sentinel thing."
Laughing lightly Blair wrapped a hand possessively around Jims waist. "Nope. Never. Strictly a Jim and Blair thing."
"But you just told DiNozzo "
"Jim," Blair explained patiently, "I said whatever I needed to say to make it easier on them."
"So, youre saying it has nothing to do with Gibbs being a sentinel and DiNozzo being a guide?" teased Jim, bending down to inhale the sweet fragrance of the wild strands of Blairs hair.
"Thats my story, big guy, and Im sticking to it."
"So are we taking our thing back to the hotel?" inquired Jim.
The arm encircling his waist squeezed lightly. "You want to show me how to light that orgy again?"
There were awkward moments, thought Tony, and then was this the grand, honking mother of all awkward moments.
"Hey boss," he finally managed to squeak through a suddenly Saharan mouth.
"Your heart is racing," observed Gibbs clinically, frowning at the knowledge. "I can hear it."
Tony ducked his head down. "Sorry."
"Dont be sorry," Gibbs reached out and cupped Tonys chin in his palm, gently forcing him to meet his eyes, "just dont give yourself a heart attack."
"What Blair said, I mean just because he and Ellison " DiNozzo faltered, " just because they were attracted to each other doesnt mean "
Gibbs gaze, normally one Tony tried not to hold too long, lingered over him, cataloging, observing. Finally, with intense interest, Gibbs fixed on the bottom lip Tony was raking nervously with his teeth. Gibbs hand, which had never released its hold, moved its caress tenderly upward. A finger brushed the soft, bruised skin, feeling the heat there.
"Hes right, I want to " began Gibbs only to stop, too distracted to continue.
He wanted to map the body before him with his own bare skin. Wanted to bring the flavor of him to his tongue and savor it. Wanted to breathe in Tonys sweet, musky tang.
"Gibbs?" Tony finally queried softly. "Hey, Gibbs."
Gibbs was frozen, one hand still, fingers splayed lightly against Tonys cheek. The other hand was balled into a fist at his side.
"Fuck," muttered Tony, pulling away from the warm palm. "No." He looked around but Sandburg and Ellison were gone.
"Boss," he hissed, taking the clenched fist into his own hand. "Jethro."
"Okay, they told me this. You figure out which sense went haywire and you use one of the others to draw him back." But that was a problem because he had no idea what had set Gibbs off. Could be sight. Could be hearing. Could be touch or scent. Wasnt taste in all probability
Okay so it wasnt taste. That meant taste should work. Tentatively he brought his fingers to Gibbs lips. He sighed a minute later when he realized it was going to take more than that to wake his own private Sleeping Beauty.
"Damn it, Gibbs. Could we have at least picked a gay bar to do this?" Tony looked around but no one had taken any particular notice of the living statue in their midst.
"Fuck, boss. Just dont dont punch me if you come out of this."
Tony carefully maneuvered, tilting his head left, then right until he had the correct angle. Gibbs hand, still frozen open, now rested on the crown of his head. Fixing on his destination and closing his eyes, Tony lightly touched his lips to Gibbs.
And at first nothing happened.
So he lingered, opening his mouth slightly. He ruffled his hand through Gibbs short hair finding the silvering strands surprisingly soft, and pressed the stiff neck slightly forward. He used a bit more force this time, darting the tip of his tongue between unresponsive and cooling lips.
That did it.
His first instinct, when he felt Gibbs muscles unclench, was to duck before the man got a good blow in, but instead of being pushed away, he was enveloped in a grip so strong he wasnt sure he could have broken it if he wanted to. Which he didnt.
He was, he was sure, seen, felt, heard, tasted and, yes, sniffed. Which was okay by him. He was even pretty sure hed been scent-marked if the way Gibbs rubbed his check against Tonys own like a proprietary cat was anything to go by.
It was, in fact, Gibbs who finally drew back enough to look him in the eye.
"So," Tony grinned weakly, looking into eyes still slightly feral, "you think were going do this every time you into one of those zones?"
The grin faded as Gibbs considered this a while. "I think--" he began.
He watched as DiNozzo stepped back, the open, happy expression that hed worn just a moment before being quickly shuttered until he looked nothing like the man Gibbs had just seen standing there.
Gibbs held out his hand, palm up, reaching further when Tony made no move to take it.
"I think," he began again, "that on duty well have to get Ducky to concoct something. Something that reminds me of you. You cant exactly go around tonguing me at crime scenes." The wary expression still hadnt changed so Gibbs forcibly gripped his hand around Tonys.
"Face it," he said with a little grin of his own, "wed get Ducky all excited and then where would we be? Fifty minutes of some story about the cultural mores of ancient Greece."
"Boss?" whispered DiNozzo.
"Were off the clock, Tony." Gibbs drew the younger man to him. "You can call me Jethro."
"I " Tony frowned. "I cant call you Jethro, boss."
"Leroy?" ventured Gibbs.
"I dont think so."
"Gibbs?" he suggested.
Tony took a deep breath. "Okay, Gibbs I can do."
"Good." Still holding Tonys hand, Gibbs started toward the door. "cause I could do you, too. Want to, in fact. Need to. Youre my "
" guide," finished Tony.
"That too," confirmed Gibbs.
And Tony found himself pulled outside and thoroughly tasted again.