Drip, Drip, Drip…. Tony looked at the IV in his arm followed the tubing all the way down to the cannula in his hand.
It was sore and it itched, but eleven-year-old Tony DiNozzo said nothing.
He had not even complained when they flushed the cannula and the saline had burned up his arm to his neck.
He lay staring at the ceiling mentally counting down in his head, Five, Four, Three, Two, One…...RING!
The bell announcing visiting hours rang, for a second he allowed his eyes to flicker with a glint of hope towards the door as the other parents started to flood in.
Then it began…
Having to smile at the well-meaning nurses who said "Don't worry I'm sure mommy and daddy are coming."
Well Mommy was not coming she had been dead for three years and daddy was definitely not coming.
It was his last drinking session that had put Tony in the hospital.
Although officially, Anthony DiNozzo. Senior, was out of the country having hopped on his private jet the second he saw his son's battered body lying on the floor in his hallway, where he had thrown the boy over the railing at his country estate in yet another fit of rage.
The other kids got cards, balloons and teddies.
Tony knew he was never going to get any of these things…They were for good kids.
He was in hospital because HE had made his father mad.
He should have known better than to ask his father if cook could make him a birthday cake.
So Tony watched hungrily as the other moms and dads hugged their kids, while trying to remain as inconspicuous as possible.
He ignored their pitying looks as it became obvious to other parents that he was not getting any visitors.
A young Marine in uniform walked over to him.
"Hey kid, are you ok?" he asked glancing back at his wife and daughter.
"I'm fine, thank you Sir." Tony answered not meeting his eyes.
"My daughter asked me to give this to you, his name is Pete." The Marine said handing him the small stuffed bear.
"Thank you sir," Tony said politely.
It was the first present he could remember getting in years. "Thank you," Tony said to the little girl.
"Kelly," She said by way of introduction with a scratchy voice and she pointed to her throat. "Tonsils." She said.
"Oh?" Tony replied having no idea what tonsils were. "I fell down." Was all he dared say by way of a reply.
The Marine and his young wife smiled at the young boy and kissed their daughter. "Are you ready to come home Kels?" The Marine asked his child.
Kelly nodded as she put the last of her 'get well' cards into a bag.
"Bye Tony." She croaked as she left the hospital with her parents.
"Bye…" Tony whispered he turned his face away and clung to the bear like a lifeline during the rest of his stay.
Three weeks later Tony picked up his bag as his fathers lawyer and driver arrived to pick him up from the hospital.
He hid the teddy.
~~~Nearly Thirty years later ~~~
Gibbs was helping Tony redecorate his apartment.
He was clearing out the back of the built-in wardrobe and he moved a box in the back of Tony's wardrobe when Pete fell out.
"Pete!" Tony exclaimed and he quickly moved to pick him up.
He looked at Gibbs expecting ridicule from his boss, that his SFA still owned a teddy bear.
Instead, Gibbs looked shocked; "Pete?" he said as a flood of memories assailed him all at once.
Tony's eyes shot up to meet his bosses surprised.
"That was you?" They both said at the same time.
Gibbs looked at Pete. "I brought him for Kelly just after she was born…..she died a month after she gave Pete to you." He said quietly.
"I'm sorry Boss." Tony said, ashamed he had brought this painful memory up for his Boss.
"No Tony, I'm sorry I didn't help you." Gibbs said.
"B...But Boss, you did!" Tony told him surprised. "Pete helped me through the toughest time in my life…my childhood." Tony smiled, "Thanks Boss" he said as he reverently placed Pete on his bed.
Gibbs turned and left the room as the front door knocked.
"DiNozzo…PIZZA!" Gibbs yelled.
Tony took one last look at Pete, smiled and went in search of food.