Disclaimer: I'm not Bellesario or CBS, so I don't claim to own them.
Genre: Pre-Slash; AU
Pairings: Pre-Gibbs/DiNozzo; Mention of Past-Gibbs/Shannon
Word Count: 2,388
Written For: taylorgibbs' prompt from my hc_bingo card
HC Bingo Square: Unexpected Consequences of Planned Soulbonding
Summary: His life was changed forever in the wake of her death.
Tony was still reeling from the news that his half-sister was dead. She was the only one of any of his family that had truly loved him. Their mother had given him up to save her failing marriage. After all, what man would want some other man's son living in his home? His father just hadn't tried. Senior had just pawned him off on the current wife and the hired help. And the few times he had taken Tony with him on business trips had ended in disaster.
But Shannon had been different. The day she turned eighteen, she came to find her baby brother. She didn't care that Tony had been the product of two unfaithful people. Instead, she had hugged him and said she would always be there for him.
Tony wrapped his arms around himself. He needed her now, only she wasn't there. According the man standing in front of him, she would never be there again. The man from the facility had continued talking, but Tony had zoned him out as he talked about the details of the car crash.
"Son?" Tony looked up at the question and the hand to his shoulder. "I asked if you understood?"
"That my sister is dead," Tony said with a broken voice. "What am I supposed to be able to understand about her not being here anymore?"
The man's face softened. "I meant about Mr. Gibbs."
Tony scrunched his face. Gibbs was the name of Shannon's boyfriend. The one that she planned to introduce him to when summer break started. He had wanted to come during Spring Break, but Shannon had told him to celebrate his first year at college with his friends. So he'd gone with several of the frat brothers to Florida for the week instead.
"Gibbs?" he questioned. Shannon had done nothing but gush about the man and how they were perfect for each other. Tony had decided to withhold judgment until he met the guy. He wasn't sure anyone would ever be good enough for his sister. It was a brother's responsibility to watch out for his sister, even if she was the older one by a few years.
"Yes, Leroy Jethro Gibbs," the man said. "We need to do a test right away and see if you're compatible with him."
Tony's brain short-circuited. He really wished he hadn't zoned out during the guy's long-winded talk.
"Compatible? Was he in the wreck too? Wouldn't blood relatives be better to test if he needs a kidney or something? I'm not against getting tested for things like that, but I'm not the most likely candidate for a donor."
"He wasn't in the wreck, kid. Your sister and Mr. Gibbs were in the second stage of a planned soulbond."
"What?!" Tony shouted. "Shannon never said anything about that. Sure, she liked the guy… But a soulbond?"
"According to Mr. Gibbs, they hadn't shared the details with anyone yet. He said they were waiting until they could see certain family members in person before spreading the word. They were tested two months ago after they first met. Test results showed they were perfect match."
Tony huffed out a breath of air. "She kept saying that over the phone when we talked. 'He's perfect for me.' The second stage is the mental connection, right?"
Tony had never really paid attention to soulbonding lectures throughout school. The life he had led taught him that people didn't really have soulmates. But if anyone could find their own, it would be Shannon. Her heart was so open to everyone. Tony racked his brain trying to remember the details of the soulbond. The man before him evidently saw his lack of understanding and provided him with the details.
"Correct. The first stage was, um, physical," Tony smiled slightly at the man's unease. "The second stage is the mental connection and the final stage is the soul connection. The problem is that when one half of a soulbond partnership dies, the other half generally dies, too. Since they hadn't completed the process, Mr. Gibbs is in limbo so to speak. By the time I left, the agency had him in a room. He was slipping into a coma."
"Where do I come in?" Tony asked. He pushed back the hurt of losing Shannon, to focus on the mystery. He loved solving mysteries.
"Mr. Gibbs will live in a coma on life support for the rest of his life unless we can find another compatible person to complete the soulbond with him."
"And you want me? I'm pretty sure I'm not soulbond material with anyone, let alone that the man that my sister was in love with."
"Testing has shown that compatibility for soulbonds has run in families. We've seen several multi-sibling matches where younger siblings of matched pairs get tested. As you're a half-sibling, it's at least twenty percent likely that you are a match for him. If you aren't, it's likely that there won't be another perfect match for him."
"So you want me to just go and hook up with this guy that I've never met and is currently in a coma? My sister may have loved him, but I have never met or talked with him."
"No one will force anything to happen, Mr. DiNozzo. Just a test is all we're asking and then decisions can be made from there based on the results."
"Call me Tony. Mr. DiNozzo is my father and I'm not a fan," Tony said absently. "Just a test?"
Tony found himself agreeing and the next day he was sitting in a matching facility having his blood drawn after he filled out reams of paperwork. The part that almost had him walking back out the door had been the paragraph on adding his profile to the international database. From the moment that happened until he died, his blood would be compared with anyone else that had entered the system. If a perfect match were found, he would be notified and encouraged to meet his match.
Perfect matches were becoming less rare as the system catalogued profiles from people around the world. In the U.S., every couple that filed for a marriage license were tested for compatibility. Those with a less than fifty percent match were encouraged not to marry. His father had never listened to that advice.
Tony had decided to allow the blood test to continue. He figured the system would never find him a match and even if it did, he wasn't required to meet the person. At least he would rest easy knowing that Shannon would know he had tried his best to help the guy she loved.
One week later, Shannon had been buried and he had returned to school for his final two weeks of classes. His heart wasn't in anything, but Shannon would have berated him to no end if he let his grades slip. He had worked hard to earn his sports scholarship and he'd worked even harder to keep his grades up so that scholarship wouldn't get revoked. The last thing he wanted to do was ask his father for money.
He was about to start work on a paper that was due when a knock sounded at his door. He shouted that it was unlocked and turned back to the blank page before him. There was a cough and he looked up to see the guy from the facility holding an envelope. His heart raced. They wouldn't hand deliver test results unless they were favorable, highly favorable.
"You're a match, Tony. One hundred percent. Just like your sister."
Tony's thoughts were racing. What should he do? He wasn't supposed to be a match for anyone, let alone the love of his sister's life. But the ultimate question would be what Shannon would want him to do. She would have told him to live his life and not let anyone else dictate it for him. That's what she said when he went to her for advice about college. He'd listened then. But she would also want him to help the man that she loved, Jethro. She had told him that the two of them were very similar.
"I have two weeks left of classes," he found himself saying. "Will he be okay until then?"
"We have him in an induced coma and we'll have to keep him that way unless he starts a new soulbond. The mental pain he is in right now cannot be beared while awake. But he is safe."
"Give me two weeks and then I'll agree to meet with him. I can't- I can't promise anything."
"We understand. And I like I said before, we won't force you to bond with him. The soulbonds won't work if they are forced. They have to be planned and agreed to by both parties."
Tony nodded. "But he won't be in pain if I can bond with him?"
"It won't be immediate, but if you form a bond, the pain will be shared and then it will diminish. He would also share the pain you feel from losing Shannon too. Her autopsy showed that she had one strong familial bond and we believe it was with you."
"That's why-" Tony stopped himself. He'd told himself that he imagined it. Hours before he got the call that Shannon was dead, he had felt a sharp pain in his stomach and then had had a headache that wouldn't go away. To tell the truth, the headache was still a constant reminder in the back of his mind and was most noticeable when he was alone or trying to sleep.
"You felt her die," the man concluded. "Given that, I truly hope you will be able to bond with Mr. Gibbs. I think you both need the other."
Once the man was gone, Tony tossed his notebook aside and laid down in his bed. Depending on how things went in two weeks, his life could change forever.
Time flew fast and before he knew it, he was at the facility again. Only this time he was being led to a section that was set up for hospital like rooms. He was told that there were currently forty other patients in the same condition as Mr. Gibbs and it unlikely that matches would ever be found for them. Tony suddenly wished he could help the others, but instead he had to focus on the one that he might be able to save.
The nurse stopped him just before the closed door. "He was brought out of the coma last night and since then we've had to keep him on a morphine drip. We've pared it back before your meeting so he could be a little more lucid, but the result is that his pain will be there."
"I understand. Has he been told about me?"
"He was told we found a potential match and he agreed to a meeting. We didn’t tell him who you were."
With a nod, Tony opened the door and entered the semi-dark room. He stayed by the door until his eyes adjusted from the brightness that had been out in the corridor.
"You the match they found?" a gruff voice called out from the bed and Tony started moving forward.
"Yeah," he answered and stepped into the small area of light near the bed. He found blue eyes looking up at him from a handsome face and immediately knew what Shannon saw in the man. "Tony," he added.
"Shan's brother?" when the man said Shannon's nickname, Tony could feel the heartache rolling off the man. He found himself reaching out without thought and holding the other man's hand.
"Yeah. I was supposed to meet you when summer break started. That was yesterday. Shan didn't like me being late on things."
"No," the man agreed with him and squeezed his hand tightly. "She had a rule about tardiness."
"Number twenty-four," they said together.
"You can call me Jethro or Gibbs," he said and Tony found himself smiling.
"Bet Shannon called you Gibbs. She was always odd about names. I never liked being Tony because that was my dad's name. But then she said that Anthony sounded too pompous and that I was more worthy of the name Tony than my father ever was."
Tony smiled with Gibbs chuckled. There were still lines of pain across his face, but Tony was sure the man hadn't smiled since Shannon had died. Tony hadn't smiled much himself. He looked down and watched as Gibbs ran his thumb over the back of Tony's hand, caressing it.
"The scientists around this place say we're a match. To be honest, I never thought I would find someone that matched," Tony admitted.
"Until Shannon, I didn't think so either. When she insisted on getting tested, I told her no for two weeks. That was the first time she said I was too much like you."
Tony found himself chuckling. "She tried to get me to add my profile to the system on my eighteenth birthday. It was the only thing I wouldn't listened to her on."
"I'm not sure how to make this work. You're still a kid and I've got fifteen years on you. But I don't want to be hooked up to a machine for the rest of my life dreaming about losing Shannon."
"I'm not really a kid. I did turn nineteen a few months ago. But the thing is, the headache I've had since Shan died left the moment I touched your hand. I think we owe it to her to figure this thing out."
"It still hurts, but it's like it's dulled," Gibbs added, increasing the grip on Tony's hand. "I think she'd want it that way. I never thought being connected to someone like I was to her would mean anything. But it meant the world."
Tony nodded and settled in the chair beside Gibbs' bed. He didn't let go of the man's hand and Gibbs didn't seem to have any desire to let go either. Tony wasn't sure what the future would hold, but he was sure that Gibbs was forever going to be a part of it. They had a lot of things to work out, but Shannon wouldn't have wanted it any other way.