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by: CJ aka WritinginCt (Send Feedback)
Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 3724
Character(s): Tony DiNozzo
Category(ies): Angst/Drama, Friendship
Pairing(s): - No Pairing -
Summary: Tony gets a call that leads to many unexpected things: a daughter, a family, and happiness he never expected.
Genfic- Mentions of past canon relationship (Tony/Jeanne)
Title: Unexpected Happiness
Author: CJ aka WritinginCT
Pairing: Genfic (mentions of canon Tony/Jeanne)
Categories: Drama, Friendship
Disclaimer: I don't own the recognizable characters I'm just inspired by them. Hopefully they've had fun playing in my sandbox.
Summary: Tony gets a call that leads to many unexpected things: a daughter, a family, and happiness he never expected.
Status: Complete 7/31/08 3450 words
Tony and Gibbs were on their way back from interviewing a witness in a cold case they were working on when Tony's cell phone rang. He saw the caller id and was confused, why would University Hospital be calling him?
He answered quickly, "DiNozzo."
Gibbs listened to the one sided conversation only half interested, his mind on the case. "Yes, this is Anthony DiNozzo. What is this about?"
Gibbs' attention focused on Tony as he heard him say quietly, in a deadly serious tone, "I'll be there as soon as I can."
He closed the phone and turned to Gibbs, "I need to get to University Hospital, Boss. It's Jeanne."
There was something in Tony's tone that made Gibbs hold off on any sarcastic comments, instead he just pressed the accelerator and headed for the hospital.
When they got there Tony was out of the car almost before it stopped. Flashing his id at the hospital's front desk, the kindly volunteer manning it quickly gave him a room number and a floor.
As they waited for the elevator, Tony was pacing around, nervously running his hand through his hair. Gibbs' attention was drawn to the hospital directory on the wall between the elevators. He was trying to make heads or tails out of why Jeanne would have been admitted onto that particular floor when the elevator arrived.
They got in and Tony punched the floor button quickly. As the elevator made its ascent, Gibbs asked quietly, "Any idea why she'd be admitted to the maternity ward, DiNozzo?"
Tony's head snapped up and he whipped around to face Gibbs, "No. That doesn't make any sense, Boss."
The elevator stopped and the doors opened, and Gibbs replied, "Guess we'll find out soon enough."
It was definitely the maternity ward.
They quickly found her room and after knocking gently, they were bid to enter. Tony's eyes first found Jeanne, under the white blankets in the hospital bed. She looked tired and something else he couldn't place, and she wouldn't meet his eyes, focusing instead on the blanket folds in her lap.
Gibbs was step behind Tony into the room and he took in Jeanne but he also took in the man in a suit sitting very formally by the window next to a woman with a hospital identification badge around her neck. The thing that made his eyes grow large was the clear bassinet in the corner holding a sleeping newborn. And he quickly did some math in his head.
Gibbs heard Tony say softly, "Jeanne?"
Jeanne finally met Tony's eyes but didn't say anything. He prodded, "Jeanne, the hospital called me, what is this all about?"
Without looking at it, she pointed towards the bassinet and said icily, "That."
Tony looked at the bassinet and the sleeping infant and the implications slammed into him. He also did the math quickly in his head, and given that he knew exactly how many times they hadn't been careful, he would almost be willing to bet on the exact day of conception, that horrible day Paul died. He was angry as he looked back to Jeanne, "Why didn't you tell me?"
"Would it have mattered to you?"
"Of course it would have mattered to me."
"Like I mattered to you?"
"That's not fair."
"I never said it was. Now you have a choice, because I've already made mine. You can take full custody of the baby and raise it yourself or you sign the papers so it can be put up for adoption. I want no part of it or you. This is the hospital social worker and this is my attorney, they have the papers you need to sign whichever way you choose."
"What are you, insane? You drop this on me and want me to make a decision just like that?" he said, snapping his fingers for emphasis.
"Yes," she replied with finality in her voice.
Gibbs could see Tony trying hard to keep it together, but every one of his emotions was running rampant on his face. Gibbs inched over to the bassinet, and saw a little pink knitted cap on the baby's head, it was a girl. Tony had a daughter. He knew there was no way in hell that Tony would ever give up his own child. But he needed to give Tony a minute to think and let everything sink in. Gibbs also wasn't going to let Tony sign anything
until a lawyer of his own checked over the documents. He decided to distract Tony and crooking a finger at him, he said, "DiNozzo, c'mere."
Tony stepped over to the bassinet to stand next to Gibbs, their backs to Jeanne and the others in the room. Tony looked down at the baby, his eyes wide with a combination of wonder and awe, and pure terror. The baby scrunched her nose in her sleep and made some little suckling motions with her mouth and Gibbs couldn't help but smile as he said softly for Tony's ears only, "Say hi to your daughter, Tony."
His daughter. Two words he never expected to be saying at this particular junction in his life. But as she continued to make those adorable little motions with her mouth he couldn't stop himself from wanting to touch her, to somehow let her know he was there and that would some how, some way take care of this mess. And he didn't even know
where that came from. He gently placed his hand on her little swaddled body, and brushed her cheek with a finger. That made her open her eyes and try to focus on him and in that instant he knew what his decision was, and he said quietly to Gibbs, "I need a lawyer."
Gibbs reached up and gave Tony's shoulder a squeeze of support and said, "I'll take care of it."
Reluctantly he had to take his hand off of the baby to turn around and face Jeanne, "Are you sure about this, Jeanne?"
Tony took a deep breath and let it out slowly, "Fine. She's my daughter and I want her, even if you don't. But I want a lawyer of my own to look over the paperwork."
"Fine. You can do everything through my attorney then. He'll bring me anything that might need to be signed." She hit the nurse's call button and when they answered she said, "This is Jeanne Benoit, you can come and bring the baby back to the nursery now."
Not another word was said in the room, and a nurse arrived to wheel the bassinet out. Jeanne had gone back to staring at the blanket and Tony just glared at her. The entire situation just surreal to him. Finally the social worker cleared her throat, "Um, Mr. DiNozzo, why don't we step down the hall."
He nodded and they filed out of the room, pausing in the doorway he looked back at Jeanne one last time and in that moment couldn't tell if he loved her or hated her.
The nurse situated the bassinet among others in the nursery, the baby awake but not making a peep. The social worker, Karen, was standing next to Tony and he asked softly, "What did she name her?"
Karen replied, "She didn't. That will be up to you."
Tony nodded. His mind was spinning. Just how exactly was he going to care for a baby by himself? He needed a bigger place to live, maybe a house with a yard. He didn't know how to change a diaper. How does he feed her? What if she gets sick? Who's going to watch her while he's working? And god forbid, what if something happened to him? Who would raise her then? The more he thought about it all the more his head hurt, and his stomach churned.
Just when he thought he might completely fly apart, he heard Gibbs step up behind him and place a hand on his shoulder as he said, "I've got Agent Lee coming over, Tony. She'll look over everything for you before you sign anything."
Karen prompted, "Why don't we step into the nurse's lounge, there are some things I need to go over with you."
They were soon situated around a small table and she opened the folder she was carrying. "We have Jeanne Benoit and Anthony DiNozzo listed on the birth certificate application, is that accurate or do we need to make changes?"
"That's fine. Do you need her name right now?"
"No. Anytime before she leaves the hospital is fine. Right now she's known as Baby DiNozzo."
That was a little relief to Tony, because he found himself at a loss, struggling to come up with even one girl's name.
Karen continued, "The baby has a monitoring device on her ankle, an alarm will sound if anyone tries to remove her from this floor without authorization. And this," she held up a plastic hospital band, "indicates that you are the only one allowed to remove her from the hospital. Don't take it off, okay?"
He nodded and held out his wrist so she could put the bracelet on, trying hard not to flash back to Jeanne playfully putting the mental ward one on him so long ago.
Karen could see that Tony was overwhelmed, and said gently, "I'm going to go talk to the nurses and give you a few minutes, I know you have a lot to take in right now. There's fresh coffee in the corner if you like."
She left and Gibbs stood and closed the door behind her and went and poured them each a cup of coffee.
Tony was scrubbing his face with his hands, trying control his emotions. When Gibbs put the coffee down in front of him he asked, "Am I doing the right thing, Boss? Keeping her I mean?"
"I'm probably not the best person to ask, Tony. She's your daughter. There's nothing more important than that. Everything else will fall into place."
"What about my job?"
"Not going anywhere. You're gonna take your paternity leave and get yourself and that baby situated and then come back to work."
"Just like that?"
"Just like that. Single mom's do it all the time, no different for a single dad."
Something in Gibbs last remark made one side of Tony's mouth quirk up in a cocky little grin, "I'm a dad."
They were still waiting for Michelle when the door to the lounge opened and a grandmotherly nurse stuck her head in to ask, "Mr. DiNozzo?"
"Your daughter is awake and it's time to feed her, I was wondering if you wanted to do it?"
A few minutes later, with a clean gown over his clothes Tony was sitting in a comfortable padded chair in an unoccupied hospital room when the nurse brought the baby in, she said, "I figured you might want to hold her for a bit while I get her bottle ready." The gossip about the baby and Jeanne's actions had been the talk of the nurse's station, and she felt compassion for the handsome man that had had all of this literally dumped on him this morning.
She settled the baby in his arms, instructing him gently as she had hordes of other new fathers in her long career. And once she saw that he had her she headed for the door to give them time to bond. And Gibbs followed her out silently to take up a holding pattern in the hallway, a flash of pain filling his chest seeing Tony inspecting her little fingers, he remembered doing that with Kelly.
When the door clicked behind them Tony looked up and realized that he was alone with the baby. He looked down and said solemnly, "Just you and me kid. I guess we better get used to that, huh? This whole dad thing is new to me, and I might mess some of it up, I gotta warn you. But we are DiNozzos and we'll figure it, we always do. Speaking of figuring things out, I'm supposed to come up with a name for you, any thoughts? No? Me either."
The baby was enthralled by his deep voice and she was regarding him with her little mouth in an "O".
"Now if you were a boy it'd be easy. You'd be the next Anthony DiNozzo. But you're not a boy so that blows that out of the water, although we could call you Antonia."
The moment he said it the baby scrunched up her nose and pursed her lips into an unhappy face, and Tony chuckled, "Well. It was just a thought. And that face you're making won't work on me, I've had other girls make that same face at me and it didn't get them anywhere either." And as he thought about it, he remembered one woman in particular that had made that face at him and he chuckled again. He had her name. And as he whispered it to her, the pouty face disappeared and he knew it the perfect name.
When the nurse and Gibbs reappeared Tony looked up and smiled then back to his daughter as he said, "Look Paula, lunch. Are you hungry?"
Those first few days after that passed in a flurry of activity, hammering out the legal papers, a marathon shopping trip that left the numbers melted off of Tony's credit card, and quick parenting lessons from very patient nurses at the hospital. His whole team was there when he brought her home. And as they all took turns holding her, Tony realized that it wasn't just the two of them, they had a family. Not a blood family, but one that couldn't have loved each other more if they had been.
And a few days later that family had gathered around her as she was christened Paula Maria DiNozzo with two people that couldn't have been more different standing as her godparents, Abby and Gibbs. Gibbs in fact was much more than just her godfather, he was named as her guardian in the event that anything happen to Tony. There just wasn't anyone he trusted more to raise his daughter than Gibbs.
It was Gibbs that got them through the first couple of months. He could tell when Tony needed a break, and he would stop by and simply pack the diaper bag and take her back to his house for a few hours. She would happily sit in her carrier as he puttered around in his basement. He also helped Tony get into a routine, and it was good for both Tony and the baby.
Gibbs knew that Tony had family money, no one on an agent's salary was buying Armani suits, and a few weeks before Tony was set to go back to work they had a discussion about what he was going to do with Paula during the day. Tony was leery about day-care, having heard horror stories in the break room at work but yet he didn't want to hire a nanny per se, that being how he had been raised. But in the end a nanny was the best option, but not a live in one. And it was actually Gibbs that found the perfect woman, the wife of a Corps buddy who had raised five children of her own. Tough and reliable Margie had taken one look at Tony and Paula and immediately taken them under her wing. And there were times between her and Gibbs that Tony wondered when exactly it was that he had been drafted.
Time passed quickly, holidays came and went, as did birthdays. Shortly after Paula's second birthday they had moved into a house in a family neighborhood, it was better than a cramped apartment with a questionable boiler. There was a little park with swings and a jungle gym at the end of the block that he enjoyed taking Paula to to play. His life had gone from that of a flirty frat boy to that of a responsible but playful dad. And he wouldn't trade it for anything.
When she was three Paula's mother saw her for the first time since the hospital. It was a beautiful spring day and Tony and Paula were spending their Saturday afternoon out at the park. Dressed in identical blue jeans and Ohio State sweatshirts, no one would ever know how hard he had laughed when he found kid sized Buckeye gear on the internet, they were wrestling in the grass. Tony was flat on his back with Paula crawling all over him when suddenly she stopped and looked over towards the sidewalk. He caught sight of a woman standing there out of the corner of his eye and when he sat up he froze. Jeanne.
He clambered to his feet and with a little pat to the butt, he told Paula, "Go play in the sandbox, I'll be right there."
Jeanne crossed the grass to where he stood, her expression unreadable. Tony's was though, it was hostile.
"I would never have expected to see you in this neighborhood."
His tone was annoyed as he replied, "Why not? It's a family neighborhood, we're a family. Why shouldn't we live here?"
Jeanne winced at the harshness of his words. "She looks... happy."
"She is happy. Why wouldn't she be?"
Jeanne didn't know how to deal with the anger that was rolling off of Tony, "I didn't mean it that way."
"What did you think, that I was going to take out my anger at you on her? I would never. But you did."
Jeanne looked down at her hands, "It was for the best."
"Best for who, Jeanne? Her? I don't think so. You is more like it."
Before she could reply Paula came running over with something cupped in her hands, "Daddy, look!"
Tony crouched down on on knee and with a grin asked, "It's not a worm is it?"
He made a show of peeking in her hands, it was a little grasshopper that proceeded to immediately jump out of her hands. "Uh, oh. He got away. He's gonna hop on home."
He gave her a little poke in the belly that made her giggle and the genuineness of it all formed a lump in Jeanne's throat, she had never imagined that Tony had this in him. And she had to force a smile when the little girl looked up at Jeanne, their daughter had her eyes and Tony's smile. She was beautiful.
Paula headed back to the sandbox and Tony stood up. He saw the emotions plainly evident on Jeanne's face and he didn't know what to say, but the pain he saw there softened the edge of his anger.
She watched Paula playing for a moment and asked softly, "Will you ever tell her about me?"
Tony nodded, "When she's old enough to understand."
"What's her name?"
"Paula Maria DiNozzo." Tony replied.
Jeanne smiled, "Maria was your grandmother, but who's Paula?"
A flash of grief made Tony's brow furrow but he answered, "Paula Cassidy. She was an NCIS agent, she died stopping a terrorist."
Jeanne thought long and hard for a moment and remembered, "Oh my god, she was the one on the news, with the bomb. I think that was the day... "
He turned his head to watch his daughter and answered in a low voice, "Yeah. I did the math, too."
"Where you two... close?"
He shrugged, "We had a thing once, but we were too much alike to make it work. But she was my friend and I was there when she died."
Jeanne didn't know what to say about that but she did offer, "It's nice... the name you picked out."
Tony looked at her and said sincerely, "I am
sorry about everything that happened between us, Jeanne, whether you believe me or not. I never meant to hurt you."
"I know that now."
He had seen the flash of a ring on her finger and asked, "You got married?"
"Yeah, last year. He's a dentist. What about you?"
The conversation fizzled and finally she said, "Well I have to run, take care of yourself Tony, and Paula."
"I always do."
She turned and started walking away, when he called out, "Jeanne?"
She paused and turned her head, "Yeah?"
"And Tony?" she asked as she walked away.
Before he could reply a little flying person tackled his leg and as he scooped up his daughter and gave her a raspberry on belly he thought to himself, "I am, Jeanne. I am."
MTAC - NCIS Fic