Title: A Different Kind of Christmas Gift
Characters: David Rossi, Anthony DiNozzo, Spencer Reid, Jason Gideon
Relationships: No active relationships, Mentions of David/Carolyn
Warnings: Mentions of Violence toward Minors, Mention of Child Abandonment, Anti-Senior
Word Count: 3082
Summary: Dave takes a vacation at Christmas after his first wife leaves him. He decided an island somewhere would be much better than the cold and loneliness back home. He expected to go home with a few trinkets to make up for his absence. Instead he takes home two little angels, and a whole new future.
David Rossi stepped out of his cabana, and looked over the clear blue water that stretched as far as he could see. It was Christmas back home. Cold, snowy, and bleak. His wife was gone, and not ever coming back. All of his things were crammed into a tiny little apartment that smelled of rotten pickles. His family and friends had nothing but sad, pitying looks for him. The last thing that he wanted was to spend his week off trapped with nothing but reminders of how lonely he was. His mama hadn’t been happy, but for once she accepted without the guilt trip.
Deciding it was time to hunt down something to eat and explore, he locked up and headed toward the small town he’d passed through on his way in the previous night. The travel agent had assured him that it was within walking distance, and he was looking forward to taking in the beautiful scenery.
Reaching town he was happy that she was right, and grew excited at the prospect of exploring after his meal. He’d just found the back of the local restaurant, and was waving to a man tossing out garbage when he heard the same man begin to curse someone. It was followed shortly by a swing of his hand, which was then followed by children’s cries and a plea that “they were just hungry”. The very American sounding voice of the child was what convinced him to check it out.
Had he been in the states he would have stepped in without hesitation, but he was aware that he currently was not protected by his badge and oath. Therefore he would have needed to handle the situation much more delicately had the children been natives. Hurrying over he saw a child appearing to be about 5 or 6 years old trying to shield a toddler as the man continued to curse and swing at the boys.
“Hey! That’s enough!” Rossi ordered angry at the violence toward the children. Reaching out, he grabbed the man’s arm jerking him around and back from the kids.
“I said that’s enough!”
“Mind your own business, American,” the man spat. His accent identified him as not being native or American. Dave hoped that would make things easier should the local law enforcement arrive.
“Filthy urchin thieves always digging in the trash for food causing a mess.” The man slipped from his grasp for a moment. Just long enough to turn his head towards the boys spitting in their direction.
Losing what little grip that he had on his temper, Dave reached forward and jerked the man back again drawing his attention away from the boys.
“You know maybe instead of being mad that he’s digging in the trash, you should be upset that two small boys are apparently starving and possibly homeless. This might be a much warmer climate than where I come from, but that doesn’t mean two small children can fend for themselves.”
The man tried to jerk himself out of Dave’s grasp, but this time the Italian held on tight. “I know these boys. Sons of that thief that stole our money. They deserve no sympathy or help from me. Their father committed plenty of sins for them to be held accountable for.”
Fed up with the man, Dave shoved him enough to make room so that he could put himself between the stranger and the children. He tried to ignore how two little sets of hands immediately clung to his legs while he dealt with the more violent situation.
“I don’t give two fucks in a snowstorm what their father did! These boys don’t have anything to do with whatever crimes he committed. That whole sins of the father bullshit is antiquated and according to Jeremiah 31:29-34 not even God holds a father’s sins against his children any longer. So stuff the crap!”
Reaching down Dave put a hand on the head of one of the boys hoping to calm the trembling he felt. “They can come back to my cabana with me. I’m an agent with the government in America, and it sounds like these boys are from the states. If they are Americans, I’ll get them back home. What I am not going to do is just ignore your abuse and let you continue to hit two helpless little babies!”
The man was about to reply when an older woman came out the back door with two full bags in her hands. “That is enough, Edmond! What have I told you about hurting those two poor bambinos?”
When the man, apparently Edmond, turned away from him to plead his case, Dave crouched down twisting slightly so that he could check on the kids but still watch the jackass.
“Hey, there. It’s ok. I’m not going to hurt you. My name is David Rossi. What’s your names?”
The blond headed older boy with hazel eyes studied him clutching the younger, dark haired boy with matching brown eyes. “Anthony Dominic DiNozzo an’ this is my brother Spencer. Are you a like James Bond?”
Dave smiled softly, and rested a hand on the boy’s shoulder. “Kinda, only James Bond lives in England, and I’m from America. I’m also more like a policeman. Do you know where you two are from?”
“We lived in a big house on Long Islan New Yok until papa bringed us here.” Anthony answered, and Spencer moved to curl himself into Dave. Unable to resist he wrapped his arms around the small and obviously scared boy.
“Can I see you badge?”
Finding himself becoming enchanted by the brave older child, Dave found himself smiling again. “As a matter of fact, you can. I have it back at my cabana. Where are your parents, figlio?”
“Mama is wif the angels, and daddy leaved us here. He pushed mommy down the stairs then wrecked the car. He was mad that me an’ Spence no was hurted like mama. He say that he no gots time for smelly brats. Then he lefted us. I been tryin to take care of Spence ‘cause he’s just littol.”
Angry, Dave frowned determined to hunt town this scumbag when he got back to work. He was so focused on the children that he didn’t sense the woman coming up behind him.
“They’ve been pickin’ through the dumpster for months.”
Turning, Dave stood with Spencer in his arms, and took Tony’s hand so that he could speak with the woman. Edmond seemed to have decided to give in for the day and taken off as he wasn’t around anywhere.
“I tried to get them to come in, but they don’t seem to trust us. I am sure it has something to do with that shameful father of theirs. Here, this should be enough to feed you all for a few days.”
“Thank you very much,” Dave said smiling grateful. “How much do I owe you for it?”
The woman though just waved her hand in the air. “Take care of those poor babies. That is thanks enough. When you need more food you just come to the backdoor. Are you in the cabanas down on the beach? If you tell me which one, I can send their things. My cousin has been keeping it safe. Their father left all of their things behind when he took off. He was a bad man. Took money from people here. Some are taking it on the little ones because he isn’t around. Please, take them back to America. They will not be safe here much longer.”
“You have my word,” Dave promised. “Thank you for your kindness, and your help with Edmond.”
The woman nodded, and then headed back into the building. Food bags in one hand, Spencer resting on his hip, and Tony’s little fingers curled into his pocket, Dave set off toward his cabana. He’d expected that he wouldn’t be going back empty handed, but children weren’t exactly what he’d had in mind. He for the moment ignored the little voice that said they were so much better.
Once at the cabana, Dave set the food on the table, and looked at the two children. Spencer had fallen into a half doze and was watching him sleepily with his head on Dave’s shoulder. “OK, bambini, let’s get food in your bellies first, and then you can take a bath. Although you look pretty clean already for having been on your own for months.”
“I wash us every day!” Tony insisted earnestly. “Hoped maybe papa would come back if we no stink no more.” The little boy sniffled, and Dave’s heart nearly shattered in two. He would find their father if it was the last thing that he did.
A month later, Dave was sitting at his desk down in his and Jason’s basement hovel at the Hoover building telling his partner about Tony’s first try at making homemade pasta. At the end both Tonio and Spencer both were covered in flour, as was most of Dave’s kitchen. He hadn’t laughed so much in ages though, and hadn’t minded a bit.
“It sounds as if the boys are fitting in well. How did they take the news that their father was also dead?”
Dave sighed as he closed the folder in front of him and tossed it aside. “Spencer is too young to understand what is happening. Tonio cried, but later he told me that maybe it would be nice to not be so scared all the time. I’m going to get him into a counselor, and maybe Spence, too.”
“That’s a fairly long term step, David. Are you getting a little too invested in children that will eventually go to someone else? Or, is there something you aren’t mentioning yet?” By the smirk on Jason’s face, Dave knew that his friend had most likely already guessed the answer.
“My lawyer is meeting with the judge today to tell him that I want permanent custody.”
When Jason just smiled obviously not surprised in the least, Dave tossed a paper ball at him making his partner laugh out loud. “Shut it!”
When Gideon just laughed louder, Dave gave in and smiled. “I know you’re dying to say I told you so. What can I say? They got under my skin. They’re both incredibly smart. Tonio is trying to teach Spencer to read, and it seems to be working even if I do have to stay out of sight to hear him talk. Spencer likes to cuddle up in my lap as much as he can, and Tonio just watches me sometimes with this wounded scared expression like he’s waiting for me to snap. I just… there’s no way I can give them to someone else.”
Jason nodded smiling. “I’m happy for you my friend. Emma and I will be happy to help with them in any way we can. Stephen is already asking if he can have Tonio over for a sleepover, and Spencer has Em talking babies again. Oh, and I told you so.”
Dave threw another paper ball this time hitting his partner in the forehead. Rossi didn’t even bother trying to argue with him. His friend told him the second he saw the three of them together that there was no way he’d give the bambini up. He was absolutely right.
He would never take the chance that they’d be eating out of dumpsters, again. The only way to assure that was to keep them, and love them himself. Fortunately they made that a very easy job to do.
A year after he met them, David Rossi was walking into his mother’s home with his boys. This wasn’t the first time that they’d be meeting his parents or oldest brothers. It would be a first though for most of the extended family and for his younger brother and clan.
He had Spencer in his arms, and carrying one of their suitcases with his free hand. Tonio was behind him wrestling with the other one having insisted that he could help. Dave was proud of how far the two boys had come in a year.
When his mama, papa, and siblings found out that he was adopting two small children, they rallied around him to ensure that not only were the boys taken care of, but his job didn’t suffer. His older brother John, who lived in the DC area, along with Jason and Emma helped to look after the boys when he was called out of town on a case. His parents also made frequent trips down from New York to spend as much time with the new grandbabies as possible. His brother Lucas who was 2 years older than him, had come down from New Jersey and helped him find a house big enough for the three of them.
Even his youngest brother Michael, who lived in Sacramento working as a lawyer, helped out by sending a bunch of clothes that his younger sons had grown out of. Jason had given him the name of a psychiatrist who was experimenting with therapy for younger children using toys, and it seemed to be working wonders.
It was the counselor’s idea to test Tonio’s IQ because he said that the child was understanding of concepts well behind his age. It was evident that Spencer was extremely gifted when he was reading and comprehending books at the fifth grade level or higher before his third birthday. Neither Dave nor the counselor wanted Tonio’s own intelligence to be lost underneath his younger sibling’s obvious genius level ability.
Tonio seemed to have already been taught at the young age of 6 that his mind was something to be ashamed of, and Rossi wished on a regular basis that his father was still alive. Simply so he would have the chance at murdering the bastard himself.
The two boys also seemed to have advanced memory. While Spencer was young, it seemed that he would be able to almost flawlessly recall things that he’d read or heard. His ability to repeat whole conversations had already caused some amusing moments, or not so amusing depending on your point of view and how uptight your boss was. Dave was still sending the secretary flowers in hopes the woman would stop losing his requests for meetings with the man.
Tonio’s advanced memory seemed to also be geared toward things he read, but also included things he saw such a movies, TV shows and such. After one viewing of Dave’s favorite movie The Great Escape, he’d been able to recite the whole thing to his Grandfather including information related to the movie like actors, director and other bits of trivia Dave had told him. He was damned proud of both of his sons, and made sure that they heard it every single day.
The two boys had even drawn in both of his co-workers. Jason had taken a shine to Spencer, and appointed himself as Godfather. The bigger surprise had been Max Ryan, who had become wrapped around Tonio’s little finger. The more solitary member of their team could now often be found at the house when he was in town. Something that both Dave and Jason were very happy to see.
Max had often been too wrapped up in his work before the boys. Often times going so far as to forget basic human needs like interaction with other people and necessities like food and sleep. Now that Tonio was around though that was all different. He’ll, he’d even taken a day off to take the boy to Boston for the day to see the Red Sox on opening day.
“David,” he heard, and smiled at his mother. Kissing her cheek, he gave up Spencer, who would probably spend the week on her hip or in her lap. While Tonio was an outgoing child who thrived the more people that were around making friends easily, Spencer was quite shy. Dave knew the crowd and loudness of a Rossi gathering would at times be too much for him. They worked very hard to make sure Spencer knew it was ok to be just who he was, and he didn’t have to force himself to imitate his older brother’s outgoing nature.
Seeing the bag Tonio brought in at the base of the staircase, Dave shook his head and picked it up to deposit them in their rooms. Once that was done, he headed back downstairs to hunt down his son. Eventually, he found him in front of the tree with Dave’s father holding something in his hands.
“Figlio, what do you have there?”
“Papa!” Tony called, and whirled around with a big smile on his face.
Dave arched an eyebrow, and the boy sighed. “Come here, Papa, per favre.”
Dave nodded, and smiled at his son. Crossing the room, he sat next to him not surprised when the boy crawled into his lap. While Spencer was very specific about who he would show his affection to, Tony was the exact opposite. The family made a point to make sure both boys always knew they were loved and could have as many or as few cuddles as they wanted.
“Papa, this is for you!” Tony said holding a tissue wrapped gift.
“It isn’t Christmas yet, figlio,” Dave chided gently.
“I think that this one should be opened now, son,” his own father offered, and with a nod he complied. Inside the tissue paper was a wooden ornament that appeared to be Santa on an island. From the rough paint job Dave guessed that Tonio had painted it himself.
“That’s you, Papa! An, that’s where you saved us from.”
“You think I’m Santa, figlio?” Dave asked hoping it wasn’t so.
“You’re better than Santa, Papa! Grampy splained it to me. Santa only brings things. For special things he sends people. You brought us a home and family and food and warm things to sleep under and soft things to lay on. That’s better than toys any day.”
Choked up, Dave kissed Tonio’s head then used the fishing line to put the wooden Santa on the tree.
“From the mouths of babes,” his father said, and Dave just nodded.
He didn’t know what would have happened to him without his boys coming into his life, but was glad he wouldn’t have to find out. There would be no more lonely Christmas’ for any of them.
End Note: This was written for the FA Christmas Advent Challenge.
My Prompt: Tropical Holiday – Santa on a beach in trunks getting a tan.
I think of the three fics I did this probably is the least like the prompt’s intent. It’s what came though, and it was too awesome of an idea to pass up.