Chapter 14 – Nature – July 2026
Tony stretched as the final credits rolled on the movie he'd watched on his tablet. He took the earbuds from his ears and noticed the message light blinking on his phone. He picked up the phone and swiped the screen. He had a voice mail.
'Hi, Tony. It's Sue Dooley, next door. I know you are there alone with the four boys for the weekend. Just want to give you a heads' up to check on them in the backyard. Boys will be boys, if you get my drift.'
He listened to the message and quickly got up to look out the sliding door. His two boys, plus John McGee and Charles Palmer were at the house for the weekend while Ziva, Delilah, and Breena were at a women's retreat. The five girls were split between the other two houses; Tali and Tori were at the Palmer house, and Katie, Rivka, and Beth were with Tim at the McGee house. The kids had chosen how to split up when given the option to stay where they wanted.
Tony did a double-take when he looked out; all four boys were completely naked! They'd gone outside in swim trunks after lunch supposedly to play with the super-soaker water guns. Thinking back to Mrs. Dooley's message, he had a good idea of what she'd seen them doing. He slipped his feet into his sandals and opened the sliding door.
Out on the deck, he rang the bell that Ziva had him put up last summer to get the kids' attention so that the adults didn't have to shout or go out into the yard. All four boys looked towards the deck as Asher ran out into the yard. Tony headed down the steps behind the greyhound and motioned to the boys to come over to the picnic table under the trees.
"What's up Abba?" Anthony slid onto one of the benches; the other boys joined them quickly.
Tony looked at the four young faces; his own nine-year-old and four-and-one-half-year-old (and LJ would be quick to add that one half if anyone failed to include it) and the two eight-year-old nephews. Four faces of childhood innocence; something he knew all of the parents worked hard to maintain, especially him and Ziva.
"Whatcha playin'?" he asked casually and trying to hide his curiosity as to why they had on no clothing.
"We're castaways, Uncle Tony," John grinned. There were times that Tony would swear that the McGee offspring was secretly his and Ziva's child; his grin and his appetite rivaled the DiNozzo cousins.
LJ grinned at his Abba, "We got shipwrecked and then a typhoon messed up the island where we landed. We have to find new places to build a hut and store the food we gather."
"Did this shipwreck and typhoon take all your clothes?" Tony smirked at his youngest.
"We washed our clothes in the lagoon and put them on logs to dry. Then the monkeys stole the clothes," Charles explained seriously. "We are trying to find the monkeys and where they hid our clothes!"
"I see; so in the meantime…"
"We are in our natural state!" Anthony declared. "Men in the wild."
Tony tried not to laugh as he wondered where his son heard that one; he had to admit the kid had a point. "What if the girls were here?"
"We'd find leaves to hide our boy parts so they can't see," LJ gave his father a look as if to imply that the answer was obvious to anyone.
"Yeah, we can't look at their girl parts, so they can't see our boy parts," Charles nodded. "Unless it is mating season. Then we get to show off our boy parts so the girls can choose a mate."
Tony nearly choked on his own saliva; where the heck had the mini-gremlin heard that one? "Say what?" escaped his mouth before he could bite his tongue. "I mean, um, uh, show off your parts? Uh… never mind…"
Charles sighed and put his hands on the table as if he had to explain a difficult concept. "The males have to let the females see their penises by showing off for the girls. That way the females can choose the mate they want to put the seed for a baby in their uterus."
Tony coughed as he choked; what had the kid's parents told him or where had he acquired this information? He swallowed hard, trying to think of an appropriate reply. He knew what he and Ziva had told their boys about human reproduction, but was unsure how much John had been told by his parents. The last thing he wanted to do was have John learn about babies from his cousins and uncle when it should be his parents' place to inform the kid when and what they chose.
As he tried to regain some composure, Charles continued with his cousins listening intently, "The male puts his penis in the female and gives her the seed to fertilize her egg to make a baby. The baby grows in her uterus…"
Tony cleared his throat loudly, effectively cutting off the mini-gremlin. He knew Anthony knew some of what the kid said, but LJ did not. John seemed nonplussed, but that didn't mean that Charles' words were not new to him. "Guys, it's not mating season for one. Two, you are still boys. Three, you and everyone else on the planet should remember that society has some basic rules. One of those rules is to keep your boy parts covered when others are around.
"Another rule of society is that we don't discuss the reproduction process as general conversation. Making a baby is a highly personal and private decision between two adults…"
"You mean sex?" Anthony interjected.
Tony nearly fell off his seat; this conversation had turned awkward in a heartbeat. "Um, yeah, Anthony… But that's not the direction that I intended this conversation to take. You boys are outside in our yard; the neighbors can see you in some places in the yard. We really don't need them to see ALL of you; understand?"
"Oh," all four replied at once.
"So, here's what we're gonna do. You all put your swim trunks or at least your underwear on now. No more naked in the yard. Also no more peeing in the yard," he watched the boys exchange looks. Suddenly he had the feeling that they'd done THAT before today… He tried for some levity to break the serious mood by grinning, "I know, we got that advantage over the females, but we can't show it off… society rules, remember? Who wrote his name on the fence or on the concrete?"
The boys giggled and exchanged looks again as Tony added, "I know I did more than once…" At his boys' incredulous look, he grinned, "I was a boy once too, you know."
"A LONG time ago," Anthony quipped. He ducked as his Abba's hand aimed for the back of his head and missed.
"Get your clothes on, NOW!"