Disclaimer: NCIS does not belong to me; I've just borrowed the characters and concepts.
A/N My first attempt at a challenge from NFA. It's the School Challenge where we have to write a fic about a character in primary/elementary school from the P.O.V of their teacher. I chose Tony. This is unbetaed as my beta went on holidays so all mistakes are mine. I'm also not a big first person writer, so yeah.
Summary:Anthony DiNozzo intrigued her. (Pre-Series)
Pembroke Academy, Long Island, Room 103, Ms. Connie Alexander's Classroom, May 1983
"Thank you so much for coming, Mr. and Mrs. Jaeger," I say to the departing couple as I shake their hands.
"Not at all," Mrs. Jaeger coos as she limply takes my hand. "I am so glad we had this meeting. Isn't my precious Lulu such a wonderful child?"
"Oh, yes," I smile, trying to project an air of sincerity across to her. I do well; I'm used to overbearing parents who believe that their child is a handbag and should be paraded around. 'A wonderful brat,' I say to myself … and she is.
"Good, good," Mrs. Jaeger says sweetly, letting go of my hand and smoothing her expensive designer dress.
"Right, lets be off," Mr. Jaeger booms. "Come, Diana, and my peanut, we've spent enough time with the teacher –"
I do have a name, you know. Honestly, you'd think these parents couldn't careless about their child. Such a shame, some of the children really are quite brilliant.
"– I have a conference to attend," Mr. Jaeger finishes.
Of course you do, it's all they ever do. Dads are forever in meetings, at conferences or working. Mums, it's all about pedicures, manicures and country clubs.
"Say bye-bye, Lulu," Mrs. Jaeger commands, looking down at the blonde-haired child dressed in a pink dress that looks like it costs more than I earn in a month.
"Bye, Ms. Alexander." She smiles sweetly at me, but I can see right through that smile.
She actually glued my draws shut the other day. It's not like I can complain. Donations from families, such as the Jaegers, are vital to the survival of this school. I'd be out of the job before I could say 'penny'.
Mr. Jaeger shuffles his wife, who happens to be at least ten years his junior, and his daughter out the door. I sigh with relief. The night is almost over, just one student to go. Normal school days are fine, but come parent-teacher interview night, I feel like jumping off a cliff.
Seriously … listening to twenty-eight pairs of parents go on … and on … and on about how wonderful their child is and how said child had better be at the top of the class, really does drain the life out of me.
I look into the hallway, looking for my final family. I don't see them. All I see is a little brown-haired boy sitting on one of the benches about two metres away. He's swinging his legs back and forth; he doesn't quite reach the ground. He looks up hesitantly when I call his name.
Anthony DiNozzo intrigues me, in an odd sort of way. I remember seeing him for the first time on the first day of school this year. As we were going around the class introducing ourselves, Anthony stands up and says, 'My name is Tony, and I like action movies, fast cars and hot chicks'. I did a double take. Since when do nine-year-old children think about things like that? Cars, I understand, but action movies and hot chicks? Most children in my class are still into Disney movies and think girls have cooties.
From that day forward, I made a vow to keep an eye on Anthony DiNozzo, and here I am, looking at the child who looks smaller than I remember. He looks at me sadly, but turns away quickly.
"Anthony," I say gently. I don't attempt to go to him. Let him come to me.
He stands up slowly, unlike the child I see everyday. He's always the first to race out the door, stand up, do anything that doesn't involve sitting down. He hesitates, before slowly making his way over to me. He comes to a halt about fifty centimetres away from me. He looks at the ground, which is strange. He's always had wonderful eye contact, wonderful stage presence, but tonight, he seems different.
"Is you father in the bathroom?" I ask, as I can't see Anthony DiNozzo Senior in the hallway.
I know his mother died last year, the poor child. I can't imagine going through something like that so young. James, who taught Anthony last year, said he had taken it all in his stride and had returned to school the day after he found out. He only had one day off the whole year, for the funeral. I found that odd. Wouldn't a little boy who had just lost his mother want to stay as close to his remaining parent as possible?
"He might be," he replies quietly, shrugging his shoulders.
"He's not here?" I ask incredulously. Gee, what kind of parent is late to a parent-teacher interview? Even Lulu's parents were on time, which is saying something.
"I guess not." He shrugs again.
"Why don't we wait inside?" I suggest. Maybe the familiar classroom might make him feel more at ease.
I push open the door, and gesture for him to enter. He does, after I have stepped through the door. I shut it quietly as he wanders over to his own desk and sits down. I follow, pulling up a child-sized chair as I sit down. I am way too big for them, but I'm use to it.
"Is he late, Anthony?" I ask quietly.
"Maybe," he replies. "He's at work." He states this as if it's an excuse he uses all the time.
"And it's Tony … please," he mutters. I almost didn't hear him. "Anthony is my father."
"But Anthony is such a lovely name," I say, trying to make conversation. "From the Roman family name Antonius …" Names have become a little hobby of mine, and I really do like the name Anthony. I called my cat Anthony, not after Anthony here … at least not in my conscious mind.
"I don't like it, okay!" he yells, surprising me with the tone of his voice. It's a mixture of frustration, anger, sadness and something else I can't identify … something along the lines of loneliness or betrayal.
"I just don't. I just don't," he finishes yelling. The poor boy looks like he's about to cry. My heart breaks for the little boy and I berate myself for going there in the first place. 'Great move, Connie,' I say angrily to myself.
"I'm sorry, Anthony," I apologise sincerely. When he looks at me, I hastily retreat. "Sorry … Tony."
He offers me a small smile. "S'okay." He pauses for a moment, as if he's thinking about whether or not to part with his thoughts.
"You know …" he starts carefully, looking me in the eye.
This is a little more like the Anthony … sorry … Tony I know. The self-assured, popular and happy class clown who is fantastic at sports and, if he tried, could be an excellent student. He really does have a brilliant mind; he just needs to apply it.
Take his recent science report. Not once did I see him stay on topic in class, but his report really was quite fascinating. He attempted (there were a few holes, but what's to expect from a fourth grade report) to explain how explosions in James Bond movies happen. It really was quite a good piece of work. I gave him an A+, the first he has gotten in science.
At first, I thought he might have had some parental help … but since he is sitting in front of me, halfway through his parent-teacher interview without the parent, makes me believe that he probably didn't have help. I can't fathom how a father would help his son and not show up on time to hear his teacher say wonderful things about it (which I was … am).
I'll never forget the look on his face when he received his report, titled How James Bond Cars Go Ka-Boom, back after marking. He looked so proud. I remember seeing him fold the report ever so gently and place in his bag. I thought he was going to show his father, but now I'm reconsidering that opinion.
"… I've never had anyone apologise to me like that," he continues, still looking intently at me. "I mean, like they actually mean it, and over something so … silly too."
I would like to describe his expression as innocent, but I cannot. Yes, I can see the innocence of a nine-year-old child, but for the first time, I see someone older, more mature. Someone who keeps his emotions close to his heart, and over compensates by acting up and joking around.
"Oh." I don't know what to say, I am stunned. I've never had a child, and I've been teaching twenty years, say something to me so honestly and with such raw emotion.
"Yeah, my dad's a bit like that too," he says when I don't reply. I blink, I'm still in my stupor.
He smiles a little. "You know, not really here. Kinda out of it."
This jerks me back into reality. "What? Huh?"
He shrugs. "Don't worry about it. It's okay," he mutters.
'Damn,' I mutter to myself. I totally blew that one, just as we were getting somewhere.
"My father's a spy, did you know that?" he says suddenly, changing the topic smoothly.
I blink again. I, and the rest of the community, know that Anthony DiNozzo Senior is not a "spy", but a businessman who, as rumours go, may or may not be legit. Yet, he looks happier then I have seen him all night so I indulge his fantasy, just for now.
"Yeah," he continues, "the whole businessman thingy is a ruse. He's actually just like James Bond. He has a totally wicked car, which is like awesome and he fights all the bad guys."
"Anthony …" I start, but he cuts me off.
"Tony," he corrects sharply.
"Right, Tony …" I try again, but he cuts me off for a second time.
"I want to be a spy too," he announces. "Okay, maybe not a spy, but a cop. Then I'd get to drive really, really fast, and carry a gun, and use those flashing blue lights. That would be soooo cool."
A cop, hey? Well, I could see it … kinda.
"So a cop," I repeat. "It's more than just fast cars and guns, Tony."
"I know," he says, quieter than before.
"Is it just about cars and guns?" I push. I believe in pushing my students to excel, whether on an academic level or a personal level.
"No …" he hesitates. "I guess not."
"I wanna help people, I guess," he finishes. I wait patiently and silently, giving him time to expand if he wants too.
"I want to make sure they don't … hurt?" He doesn't know quite how to word it, but I know what he means in a heartbeat.
"You know," he mutters.
"Yes, Tony, I know," I reply, but he's focused on spot behind me. As I turn around to see what he's looking at, he says, quite loudly …
I finished my turn sharper than I should, but, as Tony had said, there he was, Anthony DiNozzo Senior.
"Mr. DiNozzo," I say, concealing my shock at seeing him accordingly. I offer him my hand, but he doesn't take it. He doesn't even look at me.
"Anthony," he snaps, glaring down at the little boy who has shrunk into his seat.
"Dad," he replies softly.
"Up. Now. We're going," he orders sharply.
"But dad …" I see Tony try. "What about …"
"I have no time for nonsense like this," he growls, glaring at me.
Despite my better instincts, I flinch. Anthony DiNozzo Snr is one scary man. I certainly wouldn't want to cross him in a dark alleyway. He looks like his son, though. Same build, same hair, but that's where the similarities stop. Anthony Snr is cold, calculating and just … plain mean. Tony, on the other hand, when he's not getting into trouble, is a sweet and joyous and happy child. He is a complete contrast to his father.
"But dad …" he tries again. "Ms. Alexander …"
"I don't have time for this Ms. Alexander …" He says my name with contempt. That is the final straw.
"Okay, Mr. DiNozzo, that is enough," I say harshly. I don't usually like talking like this, but DiNozzo has given me no choice.
He opens his mouth to respond, but I cut him off sharply. "No, you do not go about ordering your son around like some dog. And you certainly do not come into my classroom and abuse my students or myself."
"I have every right to deal with that boy as I see fit," he hisses in a dangerously low voice. To tell you the truth, it scares me a bit, but I can't back down.
"That boy," I say, controlling my temper as much as I can, "is your son. He is not that boy. He is your child."
DiNozzo glares at me with deadly eyes. "I will not tolerate being told how to raise children, especially my child, by some middle-aged teacher who probably has no children of her own."
If it could be done, steam would be shooting out my ears right about now. At least, I tell myself, he called Tony his child.
"Anthony. Now." He reaches over and grabs Tony by the arm. Hard.
"Ow," I hear Tony whimper. "Daddy … please."
DiNozzo ignores him and pulls him to his feet. I can't allow him to do that.
"Get. Your. Hand. Off. Him. Now," I say with a tone of voice I have never used before.
"You cannot tell me what to do or not do," he barks angrily.
"No, but Social Services can." I match the tone of his voice.
"And what," he laughs humourlessly. "Tell them I was only disciplining my child accordingly. I think not, Ms. Alexander."
Without another word or another look, Anthony DiNozzo Senior storms out of my classroom, practically dragging Tony behind him. I see Tony's face as it disappears around the corner. His eyes … he's pleading with me … he doesn't want this, his eyes show it.
I never see him again.