“Yeah Little T?”
“Are you coming with us on Friday?” Tony asked as he spun on Abby’s desk chair.
“I wouldn’t miss it Tony. What time did Gibbs say he was coming down to get you?”
“Soon I hope. I’m hungry.”
“It’s after 6PM so why don’t we go look for him.”
“Cool.” Tony ran and grabbed his rolling backpack and followed Abby to the elevator.
“So Agent Gibbs. Now that the case is over…”
“Dinner Colonel Mann?” Gibbs smiled.
“I would like that.” Hollis Mann replied.
“I just need to stop down to forensics and get…”
Gibbs and Mann turned just in time for Gibbs to catch up the feisty 3 year-old.
“Hey Sport. You ready to go?”
“Yep. I’m starving.”
“You’re always starving.” Gibbs turned back toward Mann and saw her look of confusion. “Lt. Col. Mann, I want to introduce my son Anthony. Tony, Col. Mann.”
“Hey.” Tony said shyly.
“Jethro? You never mentioned a son.”
“You never asked Colonel.”
Mann smiled. “I guess I didn’t.
“Tony? Do you mind if Col. Mann joins us for dinner?”
Tony just shook his head.
“No?” Gibbs asked.
“It’s okay with me dad.” Tony whispered.
Jethro squeezed Tony gently and smiled. “Still up for dinner Colonel?”
“I would like that.” She wasn’t entirely sure about the kid, but she did like Gibbs.
“Great.” Jethro put Tony down and gathered what he needed. “Grab your gear son.”
Tony ran over to where Abby left his backpack and returned to Gibbs.
“I can’t wait to hear this story.” Mann said.
“Why Colonel? Don’t you know where babies come from.” Gibbs teased.
“I know where they come from dad.” Tony added with mischief.
“Really?” Mann replied.
“I don’t want to hear it Anthony. Clear?” Gibbs warned.
“Party pooper.” Tony mumbled.
“One of these days son.”
“But not today?” Tony smiled as he asked.
Gibbs smiled and tickled Tony. “No. Not today.”
Mann quietly observed the exchange.
Dinner was a pleasant affair with Tony eating while Gibbs told Mann how he adopted Tony.
“Dad?” Tony waited a minute. “Dad?”
“I need the head.” Tony whispered.
“Excuse us a minute Hollis>” Gibbs led Tony to the bathroom and helped where needed.
“Yeah son?” Gibbs asked as he helped Tony with his pants.
“I’m tired.” Tony yawned as he washed his hands.
Gibbs looked at his watch and saw it was 8:30PM. “Well, it’s no wonder since it’s past your bedtime.”
“Oh.” Tony yawned again. “Dad?”
“Carry me please?”
“Sure. Let’s go pay the bill and get you home and into bed.”
Gibbs invited Col. Mann in for coffee and tucked Tony into bed. Tony was asleep before his head hit the pillow. He returned to the living room and enjoyed a quiet evening just talking.
“So Hollis, are you still interested in this old man knowing about Tony?”
“I was shocked Jethro but he seems like a sweet boy. Polite too.”
“Good. Friday the team is headed to Chuck-E-Cheese to celebrate Tony’s advancement to pre-school. Would you like to join us?”
“I’m not sure I’m ready for the kid-zone.” Hollis said with a laugh.
“I could see if Tony would be willing to go somewhere else.”
“I’ll think about it.”
“It’s late. I think I should get going. I’ll call you.”
Jethro walked her to her car and they shared a passionate kiss.
“I’ll call you.” Jethro said.
“I’ll be waiting.” Mann got into her car and Jethro headed back into the house. He locked up, checked on Tony and then went to bed.
The next few days flew by with Tony in a constant bounce about Friday. On Thursday evening, Jethro invited Col. Mann to dinner. Tony was polite but had a hard time talking to either adult.
“Tony, go get ready for bed son. I’ll be right up after I show Col. Mann the boat.”
“Can I come too?”
“Not tonight Tony, now go.” Jethro pointed to the stairs.
“Please?” Tony whined. Gibbs gave him the ‘look’ and Tony turned and ran up the stairs.
“Sorry about that.” Jethro showed Col. Mann down to see his boat.
“Have you decided whether you’ll join us for Tony’s party?”
“Still going to Chuck-E-Cheese?” Hollis asked.
“I haven’t spoke to Tony yet, but I was thinking of moving it to a family restaurant instead.”
“NO! You promised!”
Jethro turned to see Tony standing on the upper landing, in his PJ’s with tears streaming down his face. “Tony. We will talk about this later.”
“No! You promised. I hate you!” Tony turned and ran into the living room and grabbed the cordless phone before running to his room. He crawled under his bed and made a call.
“Tony! Tony!” Jethro made a quick check to make sure the boy hadn’t left the house before addressing Hollis. “I’m sorry. I need to deal with this.”
“That’s okay Jethro. Go talk to him. You shouldn’t change the plan for me. It’s his special day.”
“Maybe, but I won’t tolerate him screaming at us.” Jethro walked her out and promised to call her later.
Jethro had just finished checking downstairs when the doorbell rang. Jethro opened it expecting Hollis and was surprised to see Abby.
“What did you do to Tony?”
“Tony? How did you…?” Gibbs checked and saw the phone missing. “He called?”
“He called. Crying his heart out. Something about you and Col. Mann and wanting to come live with me. What happened and where’s Tony?” Abby was headed upstairs to find Tony even before she was done talking. “Tony?”
“Abby! Listen to me.” Jethro followed Abby upstairs.
“Tony!” Abby entered Tony’s room and heard quiet crying coming from under the bed. She looked and saw the pitiful boy. “Hey. Come see Aunt Abby Little T.”
Tony looked up and cried harder as he crawled out and into her arms. “He hates me.” Tony hiccupped.
“Sh, Tony. Who hates you?”
“Oh baby the boss-man doesn’t hate you. Tell me what happened.”
“Abby. Hand him to me. I’ll deal with this.” Gibbs said from the doorway.
“No.” Tony cried as he cuddled closer to Abby.
“Gibbs let me handle this?” Abby helped Tony calm down as Gibbs sat quietly on Tony’s bed.
“Tell me why you want to run away Little T?”
“Dad promised to take me to Chuck-E-Cheese tomorrow and now he wants to take Col. Mann somewhere else.”
“What?” Abby looked at Gibbs.
“Son, you didn’t let me explain.” Jethro said as he came over to Abby and Tony. “It was just a suggestion.”
“It’s my day! I should be 32 but I’m not. I’m trying to adjust Boss but I never did fun stuff the first time I was a kid.”
“I’m sorry Tony. I wasn’t thinking.” Jethro rubbed Tony’s back.
“You were thinking alright, but not with your head.” Tony mumbled.
“Anthony-DiNozzo Gibbs! I said I was sorry but I won’t tolerate you being rude.”
Tony turned to Gibbs and scowled. “I’m not a child.”
“Abby?” He tried to communicate what he wanted with his eyes.
“Okay Boss-man, 15 minutes.” Abby handed Tony to Gibbs so quickly that Tony didn’t have time to resist.
Jethro settled them into the rocking chair. “Tony? I want you to calm down and talk to me.”
“I’m trying to be patient and understanding but I’m this close…” Gibbs held his thumb and forefinger close. “To turning you over my knee for your behavior.”
“You promised Boss.” Tony whispered as he cried.
“I know and I’ll keep that promise but we need to talk about your actions.”
“It’s just hard some days.”
“I know son.” Gibbs rocked Tony sensing he was calming down.
Abby popped in to check on them. “Everything okay now?”
“Yes Abby. Are we good now son?”
Tony nodded. “Thanks Abs. Love you.”
“Okay. I’ll see you tomorrow at Chuck-E-Cheese.” Abby kissed Tony’s head and Gibbs kissed her cheek. Abby let herself out as Gibbs continued to rock Tony.
“Are you gonna marry Col. Mann?”
“What? No Tony. We’ve only had a couple of dates.”
“You were willing to change plans for her. I still remember being big. I could go live with Abby if you don’t want me anymore.” Tony cried.
“Nonsense! Tony you need to talk to me when these thoughts run threw your head. I love you and will never let you go. Do you understand?”
“Sometimes the kid in me takes over.” Tony whispered.
“I know. No more rude comments about Col. Mann. You’re better than that.”
“Are we still going to Chuck-E-Cheese tomorrow?”
“Yes, but Sunday you will be weeding the flower beds for being rude.”
“But dad?” Tony whined.
“No ‘buts’ Tony. Your rudeness should earn you a warm backside.”
“I’m sorry dad.” Tony quietly cried himself to sleep as Gibbs rocked him, snuggled in Gibbs arms.
“I love you son.” Gibbs kissed his head.
“Love you too dad.” Tony mumbled as he surrendered to sleep.
Gibbs cuddled him close for a little longer then tucked him into his bed. After checking all the doors were locked, Gibbs went to bed himself. The next morning, Gibbs let Col. Mann know that Chuck-E-Cheese was still the plan and she was still invited.
Tony was having a blast at Chuck-E-Cheese. The only annoyance was that Gibbs was spending all of his time with Col. Mann. Tony was okay with that most of the time because Abby kept him occupied but as the evening wore on, Tony got cranky.
“Yeah Little T?” They were both sitting in the ball pit.
“Where’s the boss?” Tony yawned.
“Over at the table.”
“Probably. You don’t like her much do you?”
“Don’t really know her Abs.”
“You haven’t tried though.”
“It’s only been a couple of weeks.” Tony whined.
“Tony! Abby!” Gibbs yelled.
“Yeah boss-man?” Abby replied as she crawled out of the ball pit.
“In the ball pit.” Abby smiled.
“Tony? Let’s go son. Time to go home.”
“Why?” Tony responded.
“Now Tony. It’s late.” Gibbs said sternly.
“Fine.” Tony crawled out of the pit.
“Do you need the head son?”
“No. Abby took me less than an hour ago.”
“Go stay with Col. Mann while I use the head.”
“I could have played a little longer.” Tony whined.
Gibbs raised his eyebrow.
“Sorry dad.” Tony stalked over to the table, sat down and pouted.
“So Tony. Tell me about yourself.” Mann asked.
“Nothing to tell.” Tony yawned. “I’m going over to the slide.” Tony got up to leave.
“Jethro said to stay here. He’ll be right back.”
“And you can tell him I’m on the slide.” Tony ran off before she could stop him.
“Tony!” Mann followed Tony. “Come back here.” Tony ignored her.
When Tony came down the slide, Mann grabbed him by his arm. Mann didn’t know much about kids or she wouldn’t have put so much force into pulling Tony’s arm.
Tony yelled out, “Let me go!” Tony kicked Mann who was startled enough to let him go. Tony cradled his arm to his body and went to find Gibbs.
Meanwhile, Jethro had returned to an empty table. Before he could look further he heard Tony crying.
“Dad!” Tony ran to Gibbs crying.
Gibbs picked Tony up. “What’s wrong Sport?”
Tony just cried harder as he buried his face in Gibbs chest.
“What happened Hollis?”
“He took off and I was just trying to bring him back here when he kicked me.”
“Anthony? Did you kick Col. Mann?” Gibbs tried to pull Tony around to see his face but when he touched Tony’s left shoulder, Tony screamed.
Gibbs noticed for the first time that Tony was holding his arm. “What’s wrong with your arm?”
Tony only looked at Col. Mann and hiccupped, “She grabbed me dad.”
“I didn’t mean to hurt him Jethro.”
“What exactly happened?”
Mann explained while Jethro was checking Tony’s arm. When she finished her explanation, Jethro asked Tony, “All that true son?”
Tony nodded his head. “I’m sorry dad.”
“Well your shoulder is dislocated. I have to pop it back then we’ll go see Ducky, okay?”
Tony just nodded and cried harder as Gibbs popped the joint back.
“I’m sorry Jethro. I didn’t mean to hurt him.”
“Don’t worry about it Hollis. You just pulled him too hard. He’s only three.” Gibbs stood and gathered their stuff while still holding Tony. Once he got Tony into his booster seat, he called Ducky, who offered to meet him at home.
Jethro dropped Col. Mann off and headed home. Ducky arrived as Gibbs was unbuckling Tony.
“What happened Jethro?”
“From what Hollis said, Tony took off and when she grabbed his arm to bring him back, she pulled too hard. His shoulder was dislocated.”
“Well Anthony, let’s have a look.” Ducky examined Tony’s arm and then helped Gibbs get him into his PJ’s. Tony was quiet other than his crying.
Ducky gave him a mild painkiller and strapped down Tony’s arm. After Ducky left, Jethro rocked Tony until he fell asleep.
Tony was restless all night causing neither Tony nor Jethro getting much sleep. Abby showed up at lunchtime to find Gibbs asleep on the couch with Tony asleep on his chest. She quietly went into the kitchen to find something to make for lunch. She made a sandwich and went into stand watch over her family.
Gibbs heard Abby enter the house but was too tired to even open his eyes. When Abby returned to the living room and sat down he finally spoke.
“Hey Abs.” Gibbs whispered.
“Boss-man. How’s Tony? Ducky told me what happened.”
“He was up most of the night in pain. He finally dozed off a couple hours ago.”
“Do you want some lunch?”
“Not right now.” Gibbs yawned. “I’m pretty beat too.”
“Just go back to sleep and I’ll make dinner when you both wake up.”
“Thanks Abby.” Gibbs immediately fell back to sleep.
Abby smiled. All was right with her family.