Hey all. I've been working on this for a while now, and I decided to post this after Penelope Louise told me she was having a bad day. I sent her this to look over, and she told me she liked it. I was then persuaded to post it.
AU, of course. It's kind of confusing, but over time you'll understand what is going on.
Underlined: Person on the other end of the phone.
Italics are memories.
In Tony's POV after the first part.
Disclaimer: I don't own NCIS or anything afilaited with it. I do own Annabelle Tali DiNozzo.
Seven-year-old Annabelle Tali DiNozzo knew many things. She knew that the sky was blue, and the grass was green until summer. She knew that three times three was nine, and that her shoe size was much smaller than her dads. She knew her father's name was Anthony, but everyone always called him Tony. She knew a lot. She prided herself on knowing a lot. She was the smartest kid in her class, and was also the fastest. She was even faster than the boys. She knew all those things.
Out of all of her knowledge, the one thing that should have been known from the beginning wasn't something she could boast she knew. Anyone who knew her would listen to her explain something else she had learned, and sit there in wonder at how this small little girl had grown up not knowing one thing.
Her own mother.
I watched as my daughter ran around the park playground, playing tag with some kids she knew. Her dark, curly hair was tired up in a ponytail at her request, and she was wearing jeans and a plain green t-shirt. I watched her climb up the ladder to the top of the play structure, laughing. She saw me, and waved. I smiled, waving back at her. Her two front teeth were missing, and it reminded of my third grade class picture.
"Hi Daddy!" She yelled, and I watched as she walked over to the slide. She sat down, and I walked over to the end. As soon as she reached the end, I picked her up.
"Annie." I said, and she giggled. She wrapped her arms around my neck, her laughter filing my ear. If I wasn't already partially deaf in that ear, I would have winced.
"Daddy, can you go down with me?" She asked, looking at me. I looked at the slide, then back at her.
"I can't get up there. I'm too big." I said, and she giggled.
"But daddy! I want you to slide down with me!" She said, and I shrugged.
"We'll have to find a bigger slide." I said. She folded her arms. My phone went off and I put her down.
"Tony! Where are you? I want to take Annie shopping!"
I smiled at Abby's voice, grabbing Annie's hand. She looked at me.
"We'll be there soon. We are at the park."
"Well, hurry! I can't wait to take my favorite niece shopping."
I looked down at Annie, and smirked.
"I bet she's excited to go shopping with you too Abby."
At those words, Annie looked up at me. She shook her head, mouthing no to me. I laughed, and Abby squealed.
"Well, hurry up!"
I snapped my phone shut, and Annie turned to me.
"Daddy, I don't want to go shopping with Aunt Abby. I don't like the clothes she picks out." She complained, and I smiled.
Abby would always try to get Annie to wear girly colors, and skirts. Annie hated that. She would rather wear jeans and a t-shirt, as she was now. She was a tomboy, and hated wearing anything that was too girly in her opinion.
"Come on, you'll have fun. How about this; I will see if Grandma Jenny wants to join you guys. Jenny won't let Abby get you stuff you don't like." I said to her as we walked back to my car. She smiled up at me as I opened the back door, throwing her stuff in and then letting her get inside.
"Yeah!" She said, clapping her hands as I strapped her in. I smiled at her Abby like manner, and moved to get in the car.
We drove to Abby's house, Annie talking the whole way. I smiled back at her in the rearview mirror, watching as she looked around, still talking.
"Daddy?" She asked suddenly, her voice quieter. I looked at her, and I saw she was watching the side of the road. A woman was carrying her sleeping kid in her arms as she walked down the sidewalk, her hand moving up and down the baby's back.
"Yeah Ans?" I asked, using the nickname Gibbs had given her.
"Do I have a mommy?" She asked, and I nearly crashed the car.
In seven years, she had never questioned about her mother. I guess she didn't think about it, or didn't wonder. Abby acted like her mother all the time, and Jenny was so good at it I wondered why her and Gibbs didn't adopt a baby. Annie was always preoccupied with something Abby and Jenny were doing with her for the day, and she never asked me anything about her own mother. I didn't expect her to ask now, while driving to Abby's house. I looked at her in the rearview mirror again, and sighed.
"Yes." I said to her, and she crossed her arms. I saw her brain working, and sighed. The red light changed, and I pushed the car forward.
"Then where is she daddy?" She asked. I felt my insides sink, and my heart ache. I didn't answer her, but kept driving. When we arrived at Abby's, she asked again.
"Daddy, where is my mommy?" She asked as I undid her seat belt. I looked at her and saw she looked lost, and her voice was quiet. I ran my fingers through my hair as I picked her up.
"I can't answer that." I said plainly, and she crossed her arms again. She looked so much like her mother when she did that.
"Yes, you can." She persisted. I shook my head.
"No, sweet heart, I can't." I whispered before Abby opened her door.
"Tony, you can't always eat like that. One day, it will kill you." She said to me, and I smirked.
"Yeah, or you will first."
I watched as Annabelle pranced around, showing off her new shoes. She was so excited that Jenny had let her get a pair of Converse that she had been wearing them since she got home. I didn't doubt that she would wear them to bed.
"And, look at his Daddy!" She said to me, running into her bedroom and grabbing something. She ran back out holding a Ninja Turtle backpack. I smirked at it, and she handed it to me. I held it in my hands, looking at the Ninja Turtles. I handed it back to her, and it wasn't long before her interest was elsewhere. She grabbed the TV remote, and turned it on. She jumped across the room and into my lap, settling in and crossing her legs. I wrapped my arm around her small body, and she changed the channel.
"I can't fit my arm around your stomach." I said, and she glared at me.
"That is exactly what I want to hear right now. Ugh, when will this end?" She said, rubbing her pregnant belly.
"Two weeks, at most. And then you can work out all day like you usually do to lose the baby weight." I said, putting my arm over her shoulder. She settled into my side, and she sighed.
"Yes, only two weeks."
"Daddy, you never answered my question." Annie said, and I looked down at her. She was watching the TV still; her eyes watching the men on Whose Line Is It Anyway make funny jokes out of hats.
"I can't Ans. I honestly can't." I said again, and she looked up at me.
"How could you not know?" She asked, and I saw the fire in her eyes. Her eyes were a copy of mine, but they had a chocolate brown outline. It was what Abby called the perfect mix.
"I just, can't." I said, letting my head hang. Annie moved in my lap, and she pulled my face up. I found myself looking into my seven year old daughter's eyes, and I could see her mother staring back at me. All of her stubbornness and hard ass had come from her.
"Why not daddy?" She asked, and I sighed.
"Honey, it's a long story." I said, and she shrugged.
"I have time." She said, just like Abby would. I sat back, shutting my eyes.
"You don't have time for this." I said, and she huffed.
"Daddy, I want to know." She said.
"Why? Why all of a sudden you to have to know about your mother? Why now?" I asked, and I didn't mean to sound angry. Nonetheless, Annie didn't flinch.
"Because daddy. I'm the only kid without one." She said quietly, and I opened my eyes. Her eyes were slightly filled with tears, and I pulled her into my arms.
"I'm sorry Annie. I am. It's just…. It's just a long story. And you need to get to bed so you can get up bright and early for school tomorrow. First day in the second grade." I said, and she groaned.
"Will you promise to tell me about mommy when I get home?" She asked, and I nodded.
"I promise." I said, and she held out her pinky. We linked pinkies, and she smiled.
"Okay dad. Tuck me in?" She asked, and I nodded. I picked her up carefully, carrying her down the hall to her room. Her walls were purple, and her bed was green. Her two favorite colors.
I pulled back her covers as she got changed before jumping into the bed. I noticed, with a grin, that she still had on her Converse. She snuggled down under the covers, and looked up at me. She had pulled her hair out, and it was now splayed out across her pillow. I smiled at her, kissing her forehead.
"I want a bedtime story dad." She said, and I shook my head.
"Not tonight. Tomorrow when you get home I'll tell you a story." I promised, and she nodded.
"Good night daddy. I love you." She said, shutting her eyes. I kissed her cheek again, getting up and walking to the door. I put my hand over the light switch, looking at her.
"Night Annabelle. I love you." I said, exiting her room and shutting off the light. I walked down the hall to my room, reaching into the living room and shutting off the light. I left the hall light on so Annie could find her way to the bathroom. I walked into my bedroom, looking at the bed. It always seemed empty.
I got changed and curled up in the bed, my mind working a little more than I liked.
"You know, one of these days, some old lady in an aquatics class is going to drown. And you are going to have to jump in to save them. Your fancy shoes and cool pants will be ruined." She said to me as we walked back into our office. I sat down at my desk, looking across it at her behind hers.
"Yeah, and what are you saying, Zee-vah?" I said, drawing out her name. She smiled.
"Buy some Nikè's."
I rolled over, looking down at the ground. Sitting there were my old, worn out Nikè shoes. I hadn't bought new ones in ten years. I couldn't bring myself to do it. I had bought those with her, and even walking up to the shoe store brought up too many memories. It was like picking up a photograph. It hurt to look at.
I sighed and turned back over so I was facing the other side of the empty bed. It seemed to get emptier as the years went on, and I would stare at it every night until I fell asleep. And I usually woke up still facing it, but it Annie would usually find her way into the bed. I would smile at her and pull her close to me.
Her hair fell onto my nose, and I turned away to sneeze.
"Ha ha." She said, and I glared at her. She was holding Annie, who was only five months old.
"Can I hold Annabelle?" I asked, and she smiled. She handed me the baby, and I cradled her close. I looked up to see Ziva smiling at me, her eyes glazed over. I reached out and gently touched the side of her face, and she leaned into my touch.
"I feel so blessed." I whispered, and she opened her eyes to look at me.
I smiled at her. "Well, it sounds cliché, but I got the two most beautiful woman in my life."
She smiled at me for that, leaning up and kissing my cheek.
"Cliché, but romantic all the same."
I sat up, looking at Annie in the door way.
"Yes baby?" I said. She moved across the room, and that was when I saw the tears flowing down her face. I got up, wrapping her up in my arms tightly.
"Annie, what's wrong?" I asked, and she started to sob on my shoulder. I rubbed her back, sitting down on my bed. Her small body shook and trembled, but her sobs weren't loud. She had always been a quiet crier.
"What's wrong Annie? You need to tell me so I can help you." I said, getting nervous. She sniffed loudly, and snuggled her face into my neck. Her next words were muffled, but I heard them loud and clear. As soon as she said them, I moved to lie on the bed and pulled the blankets up to the top of her head. She settled into my arms, and fell asleep. But her words still rang through my head, even after I fell asleep.
"I thought I lost you too."
"DiNozzo, do you have your paperwork for me?" My boss, Jethro Gibbs, asked as he walked into the office I shared with my new (well, not that new but I still thought of her as new) partner Michelle Lee.
"Right here. Even got some of next months filled out." I said, and he smiled.
"Good. That means you can get out of here to pick up Annie." He said to me, smiling.
"Right." I said, suddenly dreading picking my daughter up. Gibbs saw this, and like always, asked.
"Tony, what's the problem?" He asked, sounding as if he thought it was just car trouble.
"Well, you see…. How do I say this? Annabelle wants to know about… her mother." I said, and Gibbs stopped. He sat down on the edge of my desk, rubbing his cheek.
"When did this start?" He asked.
"Last night, or yesterday before Abby and Jenny took her shopping. It was out of the blue too." I said, and he nodded. I saw Lee's confusion, but ignored it. She knew very little about the previous person to own her desk.
"Well, tell her the truth. What exactly does she want to know?" Gibbs asked, and I shrugged.
"She wants to know where she is…." I trailed off, and Gibbs's eyes went dark. He looked at Lee, then at me.
"That will destroy Annie." He said, and I nodded.
"I know. That is why I'm just going to tell her about Ziva." I said, and then I saw Lee nod her head as she finally understood. I rubbed my eyes, and looked out the windows. People were still working out, and most of them were the regulars who worked until five. I shook my head, standing up.
"I have to go." I said, getting up and making my way out the door. I got outside and into the cool air, letting the breeze relax me. I sighed as I got into my car, driving to Annie's school. She was waiting out front for me, and when she got inside she looked excited.
"Story time." She said, smiling at me. I groaned inwardly, pulling away and driving back to our apartment. She kept smiling at me the whole drive, her eyes showing her excitement. After running down to her room and putting her school stuff away, she sat down on the floor in front of where I sat, watching me closely. I rested my back against the couch, rubbing my forehead.
"This isn't easy Annie." I said, and she puckered her lips. Something else she got from her mother.
"But daddy, I really want to know about her. What did she look like?" She asked, and I smiled.
"I can do this." I thought to myself.
"Well, you remind me of her everyday. She had long dark, wavy and sometimes curly hair. She was constantly complaining that it got in her way. She usually had it up while working. Rest of the time, it was down and all over the place. You know the color that is around your eyes?" I asked Annie, and she nodded.
"Well, that's the color of her eyes. And even though she rarely showed any emotions on her face, her eyes never told me lies. I always knew what she was feeling or thinking."
"Why didn't she show emotion on her face?" Annie asked, and I smiled.
"Because, unlike you and me, she was a ninja." I said, and Annie smiled widely.
"A ninja? Daddy, you're kidding." Annie said with a laugh, and I shook my head.
"No, I'm not. She was shorter than me, but she could take out guys twice my size. Once when we were wrestling, she flipped me over just by grabbing my hand. I ended up on my stomach with my arm twisted behind me." I said, and Annie smiled.
"Wow. That is so cool!" She said, clapping. She then stopped, and gave me a curious look.
"See, how hard is this Daddy?" She asked, and I grimaced.
"It's harder than you think." I said to her, pushing myself up so I was sitting up straight.
"I want to know more." Annie said, looking around the room. I could see the wheels in her head turning, and then she snapped her head to look back at me. I got an uneasy feeling in my stomach, but I was saved when my phone went off. It was Abby, and she wanted to take Annie out for dinner. I smiled at Annie, and she suddenly got apprehensive.
"She'll be waiting Abby." I said, and Annie fell back flat on the ground. I smiled at her, and she rolled her eyes at me.
"You wait Daddy. I'll have more questions." She said, and I shrugged.
"I'll be waiting."
I feel it ended abruptly, but I always think the first chapter of any story I write is left hanging. But, i guess that's a good thing.
Just to let you know, don't be expecting an update until probably next week. I'll have the chapter written, but I need to finish Girl Next Door. And Every Little Thing. This is just being posted to let you know what's up next.