Growing up, Thomas saw his home environment as a nuclear family much like all the others in his neighborhood (with his big sister and the family dog rounding out the obligatory 2.4-children figure). His dad showed him the ins and outs of Legos and Erector sets… then kept his mouth shut when Thomas inevitably abandoned them in favor of toy planes and paratroopers.
Those were given to him by his grandfather David, who'd been one back in his prime. He didn't get to visit often, but when he did, he always shared a couple of new stories. His father Steve was neither physically nor mentally cut out for anything like it, opting instead for a civil engineering career - and David knew it, which didn't mean he had to like it. Thomas, on the other hand, was inspired by the idea like no other; his father gamely pointed out the risks, but it did nothing to dissuade him.
After grudgingly picking up an ABA degree as a sop to his father, he enlisted in the Air Force, specializing in combat control, and saw action in such theaters as Mazar-i-Sharif in Afghanistan and Operation Iron Hammer in Iraq. By the end of that tour of duty, though, he'd decided that something needed to change. He was proud of his role, and good at it, but some of his instincts for subtlety kept heading in the wrong direction - in some other line of work, they could be an asset; there, they were a liability, requiring a conscious effort to hold them back - one that was liable to get him killed someday, and a whole group of fellow soldiers besides.
Fortunately, he'd worked with several other divisions during those years, and so he had a number of contacts that he could run these thoughts past. One of them played a hunch and passed word along to the Special Activities Division of the CIA, and Thomas was eventually recruited into the Special Operations Group, which proved to be just what he'd been looking for. From there, he focused primarily on the Pakistani side of the equation, periodically flying up to Europe to be debriefed or just to catch his breath for a couple of days. He's grown fond of Munich.
A couple years into his CIA career, he became acquainted with Director Ames, and particularly his daughter Vicky (a nickname he stubbornly hung onto over the years) - they crossed paths both on and off duty, though never for long enough at a time to maintain a steady relationship. Then several agents fell abruptly out of touch in the course of a few months, with her as the most obvious common link; ever since that came to light, Thomas has taken to sleeping with one eye open.
Relaxed and cordial, but a little bored and impatient with everyday life, which is often mistaken for squareness. While on duty, he thrives on adrenaline and quick changes of plan as circumstances demand, running circles around potentially smarter but slower opponents.
Those on his side, he trusts, and rarely has that trust ever been betrayed. Those in his way, he doesn't hold on to anger, but neither does he hesitate to do what it takes to push them aside.
A member of the high school football team, he didn't have the sheer physical speed or strength of a breakout star, so he had to make up for it as best he could through perception and quick thinking: watch for your target to make a move, then hit your stride before he hits his. Air Force basic training turned it up to eleven, culminating in a full week of simulated combat against the most devious enemies available - his fellow trainees. Now, through the clarity of years of real field experience, he's taking the best lessons and passing them along to his Special Ops team members.
Only one tool among several, but an important one. Following Musashi's famous advice on swords, he's trained with a variety of pistols and rifles, enough to have at least a basic footing with whatever might be available at a moment's notice.
When his college dorm went in for intramural teams, Thomas was one of the ones who went in for tae kwon do. Over the years since, he's earned his black belt, as well as dabbling in some other forms for long enough at a time to get a sense of their relative strengths and weaknesses.
Arabic, Urdu, and (to a lesser extent) German of necessity, fluent enough that natives don't automatically switch to English out of annoyance. A handful of other Middle Eastern languages, along with Spanish and French, he's heard often enough that he can usually identify the language and make out a few words.
A routine part of basic training. Since then, he's both used it his fair share of times in the field, and had it used on him; some places, a regular hospital isn't just inconveniently distant, it's flat-out unavailable.
The physical tools of the trade have come a long way since the age of the biplane. While he's far from a gear-head, he's listened in often enough to be able to take direction from the real experts without having to ask too many stupid questions.
Between the Air Force and the CIA, he's seen a lot of places and made friends with a lot of people. There's often someone in town that he can get back in touch with and request a helping hand, whether he's been cut off from his usual resources or just needs some social wheels greased.
Loud noises? Fast-moving crowds? Rough weather? Not a problem. He's been through it all and more, and it takes a lot more than usual to push him into sensory overload. Beyond that, he has a good instinct for how much he needs to raise his voice or tighten his grip so that others can keep up.
Go to bed at 0100 and wake up at 0500 enough times, and you get used to it - and who couldn't use an extra few hours every day? Or about two out of every three days; more than that, and he starts getting distracted and snappish until he has a chance to get in a nice nap.
While he's still at something of a disadvantage when punching or grabbing or writing with his left hand, and more so when trying to use both at once, he's practiced with it often enough that having his right arm restrained or injured wouldn't be too bad of a setback.
Sure, he's been screwed over, but really only by the people that he was expecting up front to do it. The first few times that an erstwhile colleague stabs him in the back - and it's bound to happen, sooner or later - will be especially harsh.
He doesn't suffer fools gladly; if he wanted to do that all day, he would've gone into politics. He can usually keep up a polite front, but it's a thin one, and even dullards manage to see through it from time to time.
On overseas assignments, he can pick clothes that fit in, and he might even be able to come up with words without constantly hemming and hawing - but ditching the American accent is a lost cause. Even in other English-speaking countries, his voice tends to stick out like a sore thumb.
Most cats will send him into sniffling and sneezing fits within a few minutes, though he can deal with shorthairs, and usually doesn't have a problem with cat owners unless they really haven't bothered to brush off their clothes.