Jimmy waves as he drives out of the Navy Yard; outside the gates he pulls to the side and wiping tears from his eyes makes a long distance phone call. "Hey Mom, remind me when I get there to tell you about my friend Tony."
Tony stares at the letter in his hand unseeingly. His eyes are glassy with unshed tears as he remembers the friendly cabbie who'd gone out of his way to make sure that a 12 year old boy stayed safe, while Tony's father had conveniently run off after another "acquisition."
Leroy Jethro Gibbs and Donald "Ducky" Mallard watch from the elevator as Tony finally wipes his eyes. They exchange worried glances and Gibbs gives Ducky a push towards the agent. Ducky turns to glare at his friend for a moment, before turning his gaze on the young man in front of him.
"Anthony? My dear boy, I thought you'd left ages ago. You did give Jimmy his keys didn't you?"
Tony clears his throat before answering.
"Yeah Ducky, he, uh, he has them and is on his way home. I think he said something about going out of state for the next week."
"Ah yes, he's going to visit his mother. Nice lady, rather quiet but all in all a very nice person."
"You've met her then?"
"Well of course dear boy, when Jimmy first came here, he brought his mother in to show her that he would be in a safe work environment. It's been a few months now, but we used to enjoy a good cup of tea on Sunday afternoons; when I wasn't working that is."
"Mm.. I've never really had the pleasure of meeting her. Met her husband once, long time ago. Long, long time ago, in a place far, far away."
"Been watching Star Wars rerun's again DiNozzo?"
"Oh hey boss. No, no Star Wars today; might be on this weekend though." Tony's still off in left field and both older men are confused as to what is going on. Gibbs finally takes command.
"DiNozzo, get in my car now. Ducky I'll meet you at my place." Gibbs gently but firmly steers his senior agent into the car and gets him buckled in. Gibbs then strides around to the driver's side and watches as Ducky pulls out behind them.
He then hands Tony his cell phone. "Tony, speed dial 9, order two large pizzas. Then call McGee speed dial 2, and have him meet us at my place."
The docile tone just isn't his agent and Gibbs is almost freaking out. As soon as he pulls into his yard, he hustles Tony inside then paces as he waits for the others to arrive. Ducky pulls in within minutes of Gibbs and hastily grabs his emergency medical kit as he tries to figure out just what happened to Tony.
Tim McGee had just picked up his dog Jethro when he got the call to report to Gibbs house. Figuring that the boss wants him there sooner than later, Tim heads straight for his boss's house rather than dropping Jethro off along the way.
Just as Tim pulls in so does the pizza delivery guy. Tim waits until the man is gone before heading up to the house. He knocks once then enters knowing that the boss never locks his doors. Since he still has Jethro on a leash, he leads him straight to the backdoor. Once there he takes off the leash and lets the dog run loose in Gibbs backyard.
It's not until they are halfway through the second pizza that Tony finally starts noticing his surroundings. By now, Tim has called Jimmy and asked him what happened in the parking lot. Jimmy tells them that he'd gotten his keys from Tony and they'd talked for a bit. Tony had found out that Jimmy's mother is living in Maui and it brought up some bittersweet memories for the agent.
"He was fine though Tim, even after I gave him dad's letter. He did say that for once he owed me one. Still not sure what he meant by that."
"I'll find out Jimmy. Thanks for everything and give your mom a hug from us."
The two men hang up and Tim looks at the other men in the room. They've all heard by now the familiar story of how Tony had been left in a Maui hotel room when he was twelve. Jimmy's version of the story shed some new light on that old subject. Gibbs waits until they're all finished eating to ask Tony what is going on.
"Tony, we're all friends here, no one is going to hurt you. What happened in the parking garage?"
Tony blinks as if coming out of a deep fog, which according to Ducky the dear boy might have been. "Sorry boss, I received a letter today. One I hadn't thought I'd ever receive. It just, it brought home some pointers as to who and what constitutes family."
"May I see it?" Gibbs is at his most gentle when he asks. Tony calmly hands it to him as he finishes his final slice of pizza.
"Boss, I'm gonna go sit down." Tony heads for the den. Tim looks quickly at Gibbs, before following Tony into the den. Tony starts pacing and Tim watches for a full minute before stepping in front of the senior agent. Tony tries to go around him, but Tim refuses to budge. Every time Tony moves, Tim counters it. Frustrated Tony lets out a small growl and tries to punch Tim. True horror shines in Tony's eyes as he realizes what he's doing and tries to pull his punch. Too late, it connects…with McGee's open palm.
"God probie what am I doing?"
"Letting out your frustrations I hope." Gibbs had seen the whole thing and let it play out, knowing that Tony needed to vent.
"Boss, I –."
"At ease DiNozzo. Come here, both of you." Gibbs waits until they're both within range then reaches out and hugs both of them.
"Palmer's dad had the right idea Tony. I know that if I'd been there, I'd have done the same damn thing. You have a family; it's here in this house and with those ladies who make up our team. I am extremely proud of all of you guys. Especially since you put up with me all these years. Don't let your dad ruin you Tony. We all know that you're a better man than he is."
Tim carefully edges away and does some quick typing. "Tony, if you want, I can get you tickets to Maui. That way you could go and see Jimmy's mom. Say thank you if you want to."
"I – thanks Tim. Can you let me think on it a few minutes?"
"Sure Tony, I don't have to confirm anything yet."
Tim slips out of the room leaving Gibbs and Tony alone. Tony looks at his boss, still not sure what to do or say. This man has been more of a father to him than his real dad ever could.
"You should take Tim up on his offer. We don't have too many weeks where we're off duty."
"You wouldn't want to come with me would ya?"
The words are out before Tony can stop them and he sits down on the sofa, mortified. A soft cuff on the back of his head brings his gaze up to Gibbs.
"If you want my back-up, I'll be there. Although I think that you'd be better with McGee this time."
At Tony's look Gibbs nods towards the kitchen, "Your 'brother' is in there making travel arrangements for you. Considering all the razzing you've given him over the years, the minute family is involved he's by your side. You owe him this much Tony."
Tony nods in agreement. Tim McGee is the little brother he's never had and always wanted. It's only right that Tim comes with him to see the wife of the man who saved him.
Tim and Ducky look up as Gibbs and Tony re-enter the kitchen.
"Hey Probie, you did make two reservations, didn't you? One for both of us?"
Tony knows he did the right thing when Tim turns that 1000 megawatt smile on him and adjusts what information he'd been typing into the computer. Tony and Gibbs share a smile when Tim's head goes back to the computer screen.
"Tony, I can get us on a flight out in three hours. We'd have full hotel service and car rental while we're there."
"Excellent idea Timothy. Please put all the reservations on my credit card." Both younger men stare at Ducky. "Whatever is the matter boys? I have excellent credit rating you know."
"Ducky, it's an expensive stay for two of us. Why don't you just put Tony on your card?" Tim's suggestion is met with almost anger from the M.E.
"I have no one I'd rather spend it on. Well, go ahead and type in the information. Honestly Jethro you'd think I've sprouted two heads."
Ducky's mild complaint is met with a stern look from Gibbs as he silently orders Tim to make the reservations with Ducky's card. Tim just takes a deep breath as he follows orders.
Susan Palmer smiles when she sees her son's tall gangly figure in the airport. She's missed having him around to cook and clean for. She's very happy though that her only child loves his job at NCIS. Jimmy finally breaks free from all the other passengers and sweeps his mother up into a bear hug.
"So, tell me about your friend Tony."
"Do you remember the little boy that dad helped all those years ago? The one that he wrote that letter for? Mom, he's my friend Tony from work."
Susan stares at her son in surprise. She's heard a lot of stories about Tony from Jimmy over the years. As she thinks about what happened to the young man she nods in resigned acceptance. Jimmy pulls her into a hug which she returns whole-heartedly.
"We met Mr. DiNozzo the other day. I don't think he's a happy man mom. I just hope that Tony doesn't turn out like him."
"Well, you gave him your dad's letter didn't you? How did he take it?"
"I think he's in mild shock. I got a phone call from Tim McGee just before my flight took off and he was asking me all kinds of questions. I told him the truth as far as I know it. I just hope that Tony's okay."
Susan smiles. Her son is definitely a chip off the old block. He might have her eyes, but he's his father's son. That caring individual who'd been her husband is manifested in their son. She sniffs to halt the onslaught of tears. Her husband has been dead for many years now, but reminders like this bring out the waterworks.
She clears her throat and Jimmy looks at her in concern. She waves off his concern, telling him that she'd had a frog in her throat due to their conversation.
"Mom, would you mind if Tony ever did come to visit?"
"I would be honored if Tony paid us a call. You know your father always hoped he'd be able to find him again. It just wasn't meant to be."
"No, but maybe it's meant for us to be friends."
They continue with light conversation throughout the day. When Jimmy starts yawning, Susan sends him up to bed. Both of them say prayers before turning in and both of them say a prayer for Tony.
Tony fidgets with his luggage tags one more time before he and Tim board their plane. Tim looks at him and nudges him forward so that they can finally get into their seats. Twelve hours later both men are off the plane and loaded into their rental car, heading towards their hotel room and some much needed sleep.
Jimmy looks at his cell phone when it starts ringing three days later. No one ever calls him when he goes on vacation and he can't imagine who would be doing so now. He cautiously answers it and gets a grin on his face when he hears McGee's voice on the other side. He nods when Tim outlines his plans for Tony and Susan to meet. Ten minutes later, Jimmy hangs up the phone and heads for the showers, eager to take his mother out to meet a friend.
Back at the hotel, Tim hangs up his cell phone as he picks up the room phone and orders room service. Tony has stalled meeting Susan Palmer for three days now; which is why Tim took matters into his own hands and called Jimmy. He glances at the other bed where Tony is sound asleep, sprawled out over all four corners of the bed. Tim smiles and heads into the shower. When he comes out, Tony's starting to wake and grumble. Tim shoos him into the shower and when Tony comes out breakfast is waiting for him.
Two hours later both men are down by the pool enjoying the sun and the other visitors. Tony actually let Tim rub suntan lotion into him, and then he returned the favor. Tony starts lightly teasing Tim about being able to swim but not able to be on a boat. Tim just puts up with it, knowing that Tony's surprise will be worth the light teasing. When noon approaches Tim suggests that they go eat at a local restaurant. Tony agrees, after all, Gibbs is paying for this part of the trip. They go in and get sat down; minutes later Tim sees Jimmy leading a woman that could only be his mother into the restaurant.
"Hey Jimmy!" Part three of Tim's plan is put into play when he calls out Jimmy's name.
"Hey Tim! Hi Tony! Mom these are some friends of mine from work. Tim McGee and Tony DiNozzo."
"Nice to meet you Mrs. Palmer." Tim shakes her hand as he stands up so that she can sit down.
"Ever the gentleman Tim. Nice to meet you Mrs. Palmer. I'm Tony."
"I remember you Tony. It's been many years but those eyes are the same eyes I remember from all those years ago."
And like that, the introductions are over and two old friends are reacquainted. Jimmy and Tim sit back and listen as Tony and Susan tell tales of Maui from 20 plus years ago. When lunch is over, the quartet moves to Susan's lodgings where Tony and Tim look at pictures of Jimmy as he grew up.
Tony sighs when they get ready to leave. Susan looks at him and asks him what's wrong.
"I just always thought that I'd be able to thank James again in person. He…he made me realize that not all men are like my dad and that I wanted to be like him. I admit that I probably forgot a lot of what he told me along the way, we only met the one day, but I wanted him to know."
Susan looks at the portrait of her husband hanging over the mantel. "He knows Tony. He knows."
Tim quietly sits beside Tony as they head back to their hotel. They only have the night left, and Tim isn't surprised when Tony hits a nightclub on their way back. He follows and watches as Tony orders a beer then carries it to a table. Two beers later and Tim is gently leading Tony back to the hotel where he puts Tony to bed.
The next day they stumble off the plane and towards Gibbs car.
"You're welcome Tony."
"Thanks. I'm glad you came with me. I'm glad you got to meet Susan too."
"Me too, Tony. Hi boss."
"Welcome back. Stow your gear; you're both bunking at my place."
Once they're parked outside Gibbs house, he looks at the boys sleeping in the back seat. He can tell the trip was good for both of them and Tony seems more relaxed than he had been before he left. He ushers them both inside and watches with a smile as Tony heads for the spare room and Tim the den. He'll get a full report from McGee in the morning, for now, he pulls a blanket over his sleeping agent and heads for bed.