Little Anthony DiNozzo sat by his mother’s big four-posted bed, holding her frail hand as she dozed lightly for a nap. Even to his eight-year-old mind she looked sick and the skin around her eyes was funny-colored. His dad had said to him that his mother was very ill, but since he had a very important business meeting, he needed Anthony to be the man of the house for a while and stayed with his mother. To tell the truth, Anthony was actually bored out of his skull and he’d rather be anywhere else, but he loved his mother more than his kingdom in form of the little forest behind the estate.
“Anthony, dear…” his mother whispered hoarsely.
Tightening his hold over her hand, he scooted closer in his chair. “Yes, Mamma?”
“Have I ever told you about my home back in England?”
Anthony blinked surreptitiously over the suddenly emerging topic. “Yes, Mamma, lots of times. But, I don’t mind if you wanna tell me about it again.”
His beautiful, though sickly, mother sighed at his words. “Such a good boy, you are. All right, before that, could you pass me my drink, baby?”
“Yes, Mamma.” Anthony scrambled from his seat to the nightstand for the requested items.
But holding an almost full crystal decanter of whiskey in one hand and its matching glass in another was a bit too heavy for a boy of his age.
Growing impatient, his mother sat up abruptly and snatched the decanter off his hand. “Oh, hand me that.” She took one large gulp directly from it before continuing to berate her son, “Do you have to be so bloody slow, boy? No wonder your daddy is always mad at you.”
She used the word ‘daddy’ as if she despised it. Which she probably did, Anthony thought mystified.
Anthony solemnly went back to his seat after returning the glass to the nightstand, leaving the decanter of alcohol in his mother’s slightly shaking hands. “I’m sorry, Mamma.”
His mother dropped back into her stack of soft pillows and let loose a long breath. “You see, my dear… My father—your grandfather, that is—has this enormous mansion with lots of rooms and secret passages. Oh, I love that place sooo much. I believe you would’ve loved it there, too.”
The mention of the secret passages caused the boy to perk up. “Yeah, we can play spy, like James Bond!”
“Yes, I was happy there. Until the day I met your daddy. Father had tried to warn me, but Tony…” For a moment, her bright green eyes turned unfocused and a ghost of smile curled her thins lips as she walked down memory lane. “Tony had been such a charmer, so romantic and everything. He still is. And so I left England.”
“Why did you leave?”
Anthony’s innocent question had her snapped back into reality. She laughed mirthlessly and her free hand flopped around. “I was young and stupid. Not to mention, in love.”
Again the boy jolted as he smiled widely to share another movie. “Oh, was it like what we saw in the movies? You know, like Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart in “Sabrina”? Or was it like you and me? You always say you lo—…”
Unexpectedly, his mother jackknifed off the mattress, the hand holding the decanter waving in the air dangerously causing the liquid inside to spill on her luxurious silk sheets, and her eyes burned with impetuous rage as she shrieked at him, “Shut up! Shut up! SHUT UP! Why do you always have so MANY questions? Haven’t I told you many times, your inane questions give me a headache!?”
Anthony had grown accustomed to such abrupt changes of mood from his mother, even though it still scared him a bit. Dr. O’Brien, the family physician, had said, it was one of the side effects from her medication. Although the boy still flinched every time his mother raised her voice at him, he was no longer surprised and with practiced ease, hastily offered her placating words. “I’m sorry, Mamma. I’ll be good.”
His words brought the result he wanted indeed as the rage fled instantly from his mother’s eyes. Tears started to collect in place as she dropped the decanter sloppily on the nightstand and reached her pale, skinny arms to drag Anthony to her chest.
“My dear Anthony, love, I’m terribly sorry. I didn’t mean to yell at you,” she started explaining between sobs, taking her son’s smaller hand and placed it above her heart. “Here, do you feel it? I have this constant ache, here in my chest. And I don’t know how to make it better.”
“Even if we went to the movies?”
He felt his mother shaking her head, a lock of her beautiful golden hair fell over her shoulder and landed right in front of his face. “No, Anthony, no amount of movies could take this one.”
Growing up with emotionally distant parents had had Anthony craved for such affection, especially from the woman he adored most. And so all faults were forgiven only with one hug and soothing words he didn’t understand. “It’s okay, Mamma. I’ll just stay with you until you feel better.”
With another sudden move from his mother, the boy found himself being shoved back into his chair while she swept the decanter back into her hand and took another big gulp from it. In his adult life later, Anthony would understand the dull expression on his mother’s face as one of defeat and hopelessness.
She ran thin fingers along his jaw with flitting touch. “You are such a little gentleman, Anthony. Women like that very much from a man. Unlike your daddy, though you look so much like him. Your daddy, he doesn’t like me anymore. Now, he likes the pretty young lady we met at store the other day. Do you remember her? Yes? Do you like her, too, Anthony?”
Anthony frowned in distaste. He remembered the woman his mother mentioned; the perfume she wore made him a bit nauseous and she kept on pinching his cheeks and talked to him like he was five. “Of course not, Mamma. You’re the prettiest and nicest lady I know, even from those in the movies.”
Once again letting herself back to the comfort of her pillows, his mother made a disgusted eye roll. “Eight years old and he’s tried to charm me already. You ARE your daddy’s boy, aren’t you, Anthony?” she sighed disappointingly.
She closed her eyes and stayed still for a few seconds, having Anthony to think that his mother had finally went back to sleep. But she opened her eyes to a sliver and turned her head towards her son icily giving another order. “Now, be a darling and go fetch my pills. The one with the blue label. You do know how to differentiate colors, right?”
For a split second Anthony balked, then whispered hesitantly, “But, Mamma… Daddy said, you’re not supposed to take the pills after you drink. Dr. O’Brien told me that, too. He said…”
“FOR GOD SAKES, ANTHONY!!!” His mother suddenly strike out, grabbing the tie of his pristine sailor outfit, and screamed at his face in another burst of fury, all the while shaking his rather small frame. Realizing belatedly her close proximity to her son, she let go of Anthony with a thinly disguised shiver of resentment. “You are such a pain in the arse, aren’t you? GET. MY BLOODY. PILLS. NOW!!!
As fast as his little legs could bring him, Anthony ran to the adjoining bathroom and returned to her side with her prescription. “Here it is, Mamma.”
He watched curiously, if not a bit awed, as her mother shook pills after pills out of the bottle onto her opened palm. “Why are you taking so many of it, Mamma? Is that okay?”
Next, he witnessed as his mother wordlessly shoved all of the pills into her mouth and chased it down with another big gulps of her drink.
Anthony saw how her mother’s eyes gradually drooped as she swayed in her bed. He reached out for the now empty decanter, gently pried it off her delicate fingers—he had to be careful or she wouldn’t be able to play the piano for him again—and put it away. With acclimated moves, he guided his mother to her back and pulled the cover to her chest.
She blinked at him languidly, murmuring as she smiled, a genuine happy smile that Anthony liked most. “Don’t worry, I’ll be fine, darling. I just need a looong goodnight sleep. Away from your daddy. Away from here.”
Not comprehending the meaning beneath such words, Anthony returned her smile. All he knew was that his mother smiled at him, meaning that she was happy. “Okay, Mamma. Sleep tight, then.”
He was completely taken by surprise when his mother snagged his wrist as he turned to leave.
“Tony? You’re not going to leave me, aren’t you?” Anthony knew his mother was always sad lately, especially when his dad wasn’t around. But he’d never saw his mother as broken or heard her beg like so with her emerald eyes brimming with tears, her lips trembling, and her voice cracking. “You’ll stay, right? You promised me, Tony, you promised me to never leave me. You promised me you’ll always be by my side.”
Anthony was appalled. His mother had NEVER called him ‘Tony’. That was how she called his dad. Who was she actually calling? Comprehension dawned on him and suddenly he’d been pushed into the world of grown-ups. Smiling sadly to cover the building of sobs, Anthony retreated to his original seat, turning his hand so he was the one holding his mother’s. “I promise, Mamma. I’ll stay.”
A couple hours later, his nanny came to fetch him for dinner. She found little Anthony falling asleep in his chair, his upper body by his mother’s side, small hands still holding hers, and there were tracks of tears on his cheeks. Falling suspicious to the still form, the nanny scurried forward to check her employer and found that Anthony’s mother was already cold to the touch.
not my first fic, but my first on NCIS
written for a writing workshop assignment
wasn’t intended to be a Tony fic in the beginning
published in FanFiction.net