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Three's Company, Four's a Family

by: CJ aka WritinginCt (Send Feedback)

Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 018 Word Count: 38408
Rating: TEEN
Warning(s): Other (See Author's Note)
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo, Other Female Character
Category(ies): Angst/Drama, Romance
Pairing(s): Tony/OFC, Gibbs/OFC
Summary: Gibbs and Tony each have a new woman with a young son in their lives. Little do they know that it's the same woman. Can they find a way to make a make a family together? TonyOFC, GibbsOFC, Polyandry

Author Notes: Disclaimer: I don't own the recognizable characters I'm just inspired by them. Hopefully they've had fun playing in my sandbox.

Author Notes: Polyandry is the practice of a woman having more than one husband. There is no slash in this story, either actual or implied. Nor is there actual or implied multiple partner sex. That is not what polyandry means. Please note the PG-13 rating. Any questions regarding this may be sent to the author.

Chapters: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18

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Tony was exhausted. He had only caught a couple of fifteen minute cat naps over the last three days and he was wiped. Unfortunately he was also completely out of clean clothes which why he was down in the laundry room of his apartment building at nine-thirty at night. He was busy cramming clothes into two washers, one for the whites and one for everything else, when a pretty brunette that he didn’t recognize came into the laundry room with her own hamper of dirty clothes.

He gave her a tired smile and finished stuffing the machines. He fished in his pocket for quarters to get the washers started when he realized that he left the detergent upstairs in his apartment. He groaned and rested his weary head on one of the washers. He just didn’t have the energy to head back upstairs to get it.

“Here, use mine.” came a soft voice from beside him.

He looked up to see the brunette offering him a jug of laundry soap.

He managed to give her a real Tony smile this time, “Thanks. You’re a lifesaver.” He added some soap to his machines and handed it back to her. “I’m Tony by the way. I don’t think I’ve seen you around here before.”

“Claudia. Just moved in a couple of days ago.”

“Ew. I don’t envy you that. I hate moving.”

“It’s not high on my list either. “ She gestured towards his NCIS t-shirt and asked, “Do you work for NCIS?”

Tony cocked his head questioningly, “You know what NCIS is?”

She smiled, “Yeah.”

“Wow. That’s…well, that’s cool. I generally have to spell it out for most people. Special Agent Tony DiNozzo at your service.”

“You look like you’ve had a rough week and it’s only Wednesday, Tony.”

Tony yawned in spite of himself, “You can say that again.” He leaned back against the washer and slid down it to rest on the floor. “I’m gonna sit right here through the wash cycle.” He yawned again and looked at her a little sheepishly, “Sorry, it’s not the company.”

She laughed, “Didn’t think it was. I’ve got to run back upstairs, I guess I’ll see you in a while.”

“I’ll be here. And if I’m snoring just kick me or something.”

Tony leaned his head back and closed his eyes. It seemed like only a moment later that Claudia was giving his shoulder a gentle shake.

“Wake up sleeping beauty. Your laundry is calling.”

Tony shook his head to try and wake up and gave his face a quick rub, nothing helped. The only thing that would help was full night’s uninterrupted sleep. “Thanks.”

He quickly threw his wet laundry in the dryer and settled back down on the floor. His stomach started growling, he could swear he smelled food. He really must be tired he thought. He watched Claudia rotate her own laundry and she surprised him when she handed him a covered plastic bowl that was hot.

She handed him a spoon and a chunk of crunchy French bread and said, “Your stomach was growling earlier and I figured you haven’t eaten. It’s nothing fancy, just leftover chili that we had for dinner. But it’s hot.”

He cracked the cover off the bowl and was in heaven. With only a fleeting thought about taking food from strangers, he tucked into the chili. After a few bites he asked, “Do you always feed strangers in the laundry room?”

She leaned a hip against the washer and crossed her arms and said with a laugh, “Honestly? No. I saw you on the six o’clock news though. You worked the case of those two women sailors that were murdered.”

He gave her a little grin, “I was on t.v.?”

“Yeah. They showed you pulling some equipment from the NCIS van. Those murders have been all over the news. I’m glad you caught the guy.”

“Yeah, me too. Thanks for this,” he said lifting the bowl in gesture, “I haven’t really eaten since yesterday. “

“You’re welcome, Tony. And it should be me saying thanks for getting the creeps off the street.”

Tony looked at her hard for a long moment, it was rare that anyone outside of an investigation ever said thank you. He could tell she was being really sincere and that made it feel even better. It was nice to be appreciated. He flashed a grin and went back to eating.

His brain wasn’t working up to its normal caliber but he did manage to ascertain that she wasn’t wearing a wedding ring. But she had said “we had for dinner”. He was trying to figure out a subtle way to find out if she was single when he noticed something on the floor. He leaned over and grabbed the small, wet item of clothing and laughed. It was a little, tiny pair of Spiderman underwear. “I think you dropped something”, he said handing them to her.

She took them, “Thanks. These are his favorite pair, heaven forbid I lose them.” She opened her dryer and threw them in.

“Your son?” he asked.

She smiled and got a proud expression on her face, “Joshua. He’s five.”

Tony decided to go for broke, “Cute age, must keep you and your husband busy.”

“He does keep me busy, it’s not easy doing it all by myself sometimes but he’s worth it. Do you have any kids, Tony?”

Somewhat wistfully, which surprised even him, Tony replied, “No. Not yet.”

“Speaking from experience, it’s a life altering experience. In a good way.”

“He sleeping?”

“He should be, he’s staying nights at a friend’s house this week while I’m picking up some overtime on the night shift.”

“What do you do?” Tony asked as he stretched and tried to stay awake.

She didn’t answer him right away and he could see that she was embarrassed.

He felt bad as the awkward moment stretched, “Sorry. Didn’t mean to pry.”

“I just don’t know how to answer it. Right now I’m a waitress. It’s not glamorous but it pays the rent. But hopefully I’m not there much longer.”

Tony went back to shoveling food in his mouth, but paused to ask, “You got something else lined up?”

She gave him a wide smile, “Yeah. I just finished my degree and I’m sitting for the C.P.A. exam in a few weeks.”

“Wow. An accountant? Guess I know where to go for help on my taxes.”

“Let me pass that certification exam first.”

“You’ll ace it.”

She laughed, “You don’t even know me.”

He turned towards her and gave her a raised eyebrow, “Anyone that can finish their degree while working nights, raising a five-year old by themselves and not lose the Spidey underwear can ace one measly test.”

“I never thought about it that way. But I guess you’re right. And speaking of the exam, I’m going to go cram a few more minutes of studying in while this stuff dries. Finish your food before you go back to sleep.”

Tony gave her a mock salute, “Yes, mom.”

Tony had finished the chili and his heavy eyelids just wouldn’t stay open. The next thing he knew Claudia was giving his shoulder another shake, “Tony, come on. It’s time for bed.”

His not-fully-awake brain slipped into flirt mode and he replied, “Your boss will be mad that you missed work to stay home in bed with me.”

She giggled and pulled on his arm to help him up, “You know, that is a tempting offer. But since I have to work and you would undoubtedly fall asleep in the middle of it maybe I can take a rain check.”

Her flirting back made Tony’s eyes pop open and he asked, “Are you flirting with me Claudia?”

“I must really be out of practice if you have to ask.”

“No, it’s very cool. I’m just a little fuzzy headed and wanted to be sure I wasn’t dreaming it.”

“Yeah, well. When you wake up and are thinking clearly, you’ll probably decide that it’s not so cool to have a thirty-something waitress with a five-year old flirting with you.”

“I might surprise you.” He looked around and realized that she had folded all of his laundry. “You folded my laundry?”

She was putting her own folded laundry back into her hamper and looked over, “Yeah. I thought you needed the nap more.”

“You folded my underwear?” he asked still dazed.

“Yes. It was like touching the Shroud of Turin.” She teased back, then hesitated for a moment, “Sorry. Bad movie quote.”

Tony spun around to face her, “Um, NO. There are no bad movie quotes. And that was from the 1995 version of Sabrina with Harrison Ford and Julia Ormond. It was a great remake. Did you ever see the original?”

She was stunned, “Ah, no. Have you?”

He frowned, “No, now that I think about it.” He shrugged and grinned, “Maybe we could watch it together sometime.”

She picked up her hamper and turned to go, “Now who’s flirting?”

“Always.”

“Well, I have to get to work and you should go get some sleep. Good night, Tony.”

“Yeah. I’ll see you around though right?” He asked, realizing that he really did want to see her again.

She winked at him, “I’m not planning on moving any time soon.”

Tony stood there for a long moment staring at the doorway that she had left through. He had to admit to himself that it felt sort of nice to have someone pamper him a little. Then he realized that pamper was the wrong word, she hadn’t pampered him, she had just, well, cared, if he were tired, cared if he hadn’t had dinner, cared if his laundry got folded. He tried to remember the last time anyone had looked after him that way and he was surprised to realize that he couldn’t think of even one past girlfriend that would have even bothered. That thought bothered him all the way back to his apartment and as he snuggled into his pillow the last thought that he had was that maybe he had been looking for the wrong thing all these years.

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Five-thirty Friday morning Claudia noticed him slip into a booth near the window. It was the same booth that he had sat in practically every morning that week. He had only missed coming in on Wednesday. He had a warm smile and beautiful blue eyes. She had the coffee pot in hand the moment she saw him walk in. He looked tired today, like the week had ganged up on him.

She teased him lightly as she poured him some coffee, “You look like you desperately need the weekend.”

He chuckled, “That good huh?”
She winked at him and nodded. “Your usual?” she asked.

He sipped his coffee and nodded. She smiled and went off to put the order in.

He liked her. He hadn’t seen her in here before this week and he had been listening intently under the guise of reading his newspaper each morning trying to pick up bits of the conversation between her and the other patrons and waitresses. He had seen her studying a C.P.A. test prep book and had overheard her telling someone that she was taking the test soon. He had listened as she argued world politics with another patron in a good natured way. She had a great sense of humor and a quick wit. She interested him. He just wondered if she was too young for him.

His ears perked up when one of the other waitresses asked her, “So Claudia what are you doing this weekend?”

“Josuha wants to go play with boats. He’s been nagging me all week.”

“So where are you going to go?”

“I’m thinking the park near the marina. Maybe do a picnic and get some fresh air and sunshine.” She said this as she walked towards him carrying his order and a fresh pot of coffee.

He asked her, “You like boats, Claudia?”

“You could say that…um, what is your first name anyway? We’ve been talking all week and I just realized I never asked.”

He laughed, “Jethro.”

“Jethro. I won’t forget that one. Anyway, I was in the Navy for six years. So you could say that I like boats.”

Another customer called for Claudia and she had to slip away before he could say anything. She now intrigued him even more. This Joshua was a lucky guy to have her in his life.

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tbc...feedback appreciated!

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