So I was visiting my parents a month or so ago, and a really stupid commercial comes on the television where the parents temporarily "forget" their baby as they leave the house. I looked at my dad and asked him if there was anyway in Hell that he or Mom could have done that with one of us girls. "Never, you all had too many quirks that reminded us you were there." We laughed at the memory of a little witch who wanted to fly to grandma's house and couldn't find her way, or the little girl who wanted to get closer to God so she climbed to the top of her slipper slide, and then there was the little two year old who managed to cross a busy highway without injury.
A friend of mine asked me to do a story about Tony and I immediately thought of not only that commercial but the episodes in which Tony has brought up the fact that his father left him in a hotel room for two days before noticing that his son was missing. All disclaimers apply, as I do not own NCIS and have no money to be sued.
My first meeting with Tony DiNozzo isn't something that I can remember. I was only a few hours old at the time and I heard this story from my father. My parents had just graduated from college and dad was putting in his last two weeks as a cab driver. They had both been accepted to graduate programs in California and dad was making some extra money before they moved.
James Palmer sighs as he receives the call to pick up a fare at the Ritz-Carlton. He drives to the entrance and was only there for a minute before the hotel door opens and he meets the mischievous green gaze of a 12 year old boy. He steps out of the cab and asks the young man if anyone would be joining him.
"Nah, dad left me his credit card while he went to a meeting. Can you take me to the mall?"
James asks to see the credit card and runs it through his meter. When it comes back approved he hands it back to the kid.
"My name's Tony. My dad is Anthony DiNozzo the entrepreneur. Are there any cool movies on at the theatre?"
James thinks for a minute before replying that the new Star Wars movie was playing.
"The mall has a nice theatre in it. You might be able to watch the Empire Strikes Back while you're shopping."
"Cool, thanks James. You know that's kinda funny, the fact that you're a chauffer sorta and that your name is James."
James smiles at the kid, wondering briefly if his father really is in a meeting. He pulls into the parking lot at the mall and pulls up at the food court entrance. As he turns around to give Tony his receipt, he also hands him a business card. Tony looks at the card with a question in his eyes.
"Call me if you need a ride back to your hotel. I'll be here within five minutes." The quiet voice, the concern in the brown eyes lets Tony know that this man will help him if he really needs it.
"Thanks, James." Tony exits the cab and heads inside the mall. Six hours later, James gets a phone call from the mall's security. Tony had fallen asleep in the theatre and James' business card was the only number they'd found on the child.
"I'll be right there to pick him up. Thanks Scott, I appreciate the phone call."
"I'll stay with him until you get here James. Who is this kid anyway?"
"I'm not sure just yet, Scott but I'll find out."
He pulls into the parking lot and hops out of the cab. He runs to the doors and Scott lets him inside. He thanks the Security officer and follows him to the mall office. Tony is still asleep, curled up on a couch. James bends down and taps Tony on the shoulder.
"I don't wanna go to school, Maria. I – oh, hey James. I – who is that?" Scott is standing slightly to the left of James. James makes introductions and asks Tony if he's ready to go back to his hotel.
"Yeah, I'm sorry; I didn't mean to fall asleep. Thank you Scott for watching out for me."
The security guard smiles and tells Tony that he's welcome.
James leads Tony out to the cab and deposits the boy and his few parcels in the backseat. He'd called his wife Susan just after getting the call from Scott to let her know that he'd be late getting home. As they pull back into the hotel lot, James looks at his passenger. The mischief isn't shining in those green orbs anymore. A hint of sorrow, and possibly fear are quickly masked and a carefree look enters that young face. James thinks to himself that no child should learn to hide their emotions at such a young age, and wonders again just where Tony's father really is.
"Tony, do you need any help?" Tony reads it as needing assistance with his purchases and tells him that he can handle the two small bags. James turns and looks at him. "Hey, that card is good for the time that you're here. If you need me for anything you call okay."
Tony nods and exits the cab. He goes inside the hotel and up to his room. Using the room key that his dad had left behind, he enters the hotel room and turns on the light.
"Dad?" Tony's uneasy feeling from earlier that day is returning. He'd woken up alone in the room he'd been sharing with his father. The only indication that his father had been there was the credit card on the floor and the room key on the television.
Tony grabs the remote and turns on the television. Twenty minutes later, he's sound asleep with Ed McMahon and Johnny Carson chattering away on the Tonight Show. At that same time, James Palmer takes off his jacket as he enters his house. Susan smiles from the kitchen as she waddles over with a cup of hot coffee.
"Thanks sweetheart, how's our little one treating you today?"
"He's been quiet for the most part; just the occasional kick every now and then. James what's wrong?" She's seen the pensive look on his face and knows that something or someone is affecting him.
"I'm not sure, but I think a kid might have been abandoned at the Ritz-Carlton. Nice kid, expressive face, and he looked so lost tonight."
Susan says nothing just leads him into their bedroom. Twelve hours later, James once again thinks about Tony DiNozzo. He's looking at his newborn son and wonders how the kid he'd picked up as a fare was doing. Susan smiles at her husband and tells him that if he wants they can stop at the hotel when they take Jimmy home. "Just to relieve your mind."
Back at the hotel, Tony is starting to get worried. He had slept until early the following morning and still no sign of his father. He made a quick call to room service for some breakfast and then called downstairs just to verify that there hadn't been any messages left for the occupant of his room. When noon rolls around and his father still hasn't shown up, Tony pulls out the business card given to him by the cab driver.
He turns the piece of paper over and over in his small hands, debating on whether or not to call James. He knows that if he does his father might not be able to find him again and that reason is the only one that prevents him from calling James. Holding back tears of frustration, he calls the local pizza parlor and has them deliver a large pizza with sausage, pepperoni and extra cheese. It's this last purchase that finally flags the attention of the credit card company.
"Mr. DiNozzo, this is Bob from Chase MasterCard. We'd like to verify some purchases on your account. We've had several purchases made in the last 24 hours on your account. All the stores are located in Maui. Sir can you confirm any of these purchases?"
Anthony DiNozzo Sr. frowns as the credit company goes over the list of purchases. He knows that there's a reason for all these purchases, but the small amount is what is confusing him. He seldom has any purchases under 500 dollars, yet they're telling him that he's made fourteen in the past 24 hours that are 50 dollars or less. The final purchase tells him what he needs to know.
"Can you repeat that last purchase please?"
"Yes sir, it was at Pizza Hut on Maui for the amount of 25.99."
He thanks the company, accepts the purchases and then calls his main estate. His maid verifies the fact that his 12 year old son didn't return from their trip to Maui. He calls his travel agent and arranges a flight back to the island and his son. He then calls the hotel hoping that his son will answer the room's phone.
"Hey son, I'll be back in 7 hours. Don't leave until I get there."
"I don't have anywhere else to go Dad." The quiet words almost make an impact on the older DiNozzo, but he's too busy making travel plans to pay attention.
James pulls up to the entrance of the hotel and sees a familiar dark haired boy standing beside a luggage carrier. He steps out of the cab and strides over to where Tony is. "Hey, Tony everything going okay?"
"Hi James. Yeah I'm okay; dad and I are going home as soon as he finishes settling our bill."
"Good, I'm glad you're doing okay. I wanted to apologize for not stopping by yesterday. My son decided to make his appearance a few weeks early. Would you like to meet him?"
Tony nods and James leads him to the cab where Susan is resting in the back and the baby is in his car seat fast asleep.
"He's tiny. You won't forget about him will you?"
James closes his eyes as he imagines where that question came from. "No, Tony, I will never forget my son or leave him behind. If I can't be there for him either his mom or grandparents will be." The two continue talking until the elder DiNozzo comes out of the hotel looking for his son.
My dad died when I was eighteen and never saw either DiNozzo again. When I first came to NCIS I wasn't real sure that it was the same person, until he let it drop in one of their conversations that his dad left him in a hotel in Maui when he was a kid. I called mom the other day and told her. She told me that dad always wondered what happened to the little boy named Tony. I think I can safely say that now he knows and that he'd be proud of the agent that Tony has become.