Disclaimer: NCIS is not mine! Never will be! Please don't sue me, I don't have money!
Season: None, Pre-series, AU
Warnings: Violence and scenes of child abuse, although it won't be the hard stuff / nothing too graphic
Rating: T for language and later violence
A/N: My first attempt at NCIS fic! This idea wouldn't leave me alone! It describes how Tony and Gibbs met before Baltimore but it's not your average Kid/Tony meets Gibbs story..at least I hope so!^^
Feedback is essential and reviews are gonna be worshipped!
~The Day Before The Day~
Anthony DiNozzo jr. stood in front of his father and let his gaze wander through the large room that his father used as a office. His eyes took everything in, although he had seen those things several times before. The huge oak desk with the many business papers that were spread all over the tabletop. The bookshelfs and the many classics like 'Moby Dick' or Shakespeare's 'Hamlet'. Books that only served as a decoration, since his father never read anything else than business reports and the newspaper. Tony even tried to count the floorboards although that seemed like a really stupd thing to do right now. But the boy would have done everything if it meant that he wouldn't have to look at the man in front of him.
Anthony DiNozzo sr. could be an intimidating man if he wanted to. Like he was now.
His gaze was cold and calculating. The arms were folded behind his back, which caused his Armani suit to span over his chest and accentuate the muscles that were hidden beneath it. DiNozzo sr. looked like a man that was about to explode.
During the 12 years of his life, Tony had never seen the man any different and he was growing rather bored of the sight. Oh, it still scared him, but it was a fear that he was getting used to. Tony wasn't stupid. He knew that that was probably a bad sign.
Fear made sure that you stayed observant. Fear stopped you from making mistakes.
Had Tony been a little bit more affraid, then maybe he wouldn't have missed the important dinner with his fathers colleagues last night. And maybe he wouldn't have to stand in his office this morning, in his school uniform and in front of his fuming father.
"Do you have anything to say?"
Tony contemplated telling his father why he'd been late. That Jimmy Nixon had begged him to walk him home because some older kids were trying to beat the shit out of him. That he'd been involved in a fight while he'd tried to protect little Jimmy. That Jimmy's mother had made him a cup of cocoa, and wouldn't let him leave her house until she could be sure that the bullies were gone. He really wondered if he should tell his father, but abandoned the idea almost immediately.
His father wouldn't care about little, scared Jimmy, or about the bruises on Tony's arm where one of the older kids had grabbed him. DiNozzo sr. would see it as a sign of weakness to help others. And DiNozzo's didn't show weakness.
But above all, Tony didn't want to see the disappointment in his father's face where Jimmy's mother, a total stranger, had shone with pride and love.
So he just shook his head in silent defeat.
His father's backhand collided with Tony's cheek rather hard but Tony caught himself before he could fall to his knees. His cheek was bruning, but Tony resisted the urge to reach up and rub at it and kept his gaze on the floor.
God, how could he have forgotten? He must have been more tired than he'd thought...or maybe he just really wasn't afraid anymore. And he certainly should be...
His father huffed angrily at the sullen tone but didn't lash out again. Instead he turned his back on the boy and held one of his infamous 'You have to act more responsible' speeches.
Tony tried to block him out, but his father's voice had always been penetrating. Like it was coming from many various loudspeakers all over the room.
"This dinner was important Anthony. One day, you'll take over the family business and you need to socialize with the right people. I can't use a heir who doesn't take his duties seriously, do you understand? I won't tolerate such a behaviour any longer."
Tony cringed at his own voice. It sounded so clinical and emotionless. He sounded like a roboter.
A couple of years back, when Tony had been younger and more innocent, he would pretend that he was a roboter from outer space, who tried to copy emotions from the real humans around him. He had driven his nanny insane with his stiff walk and the strange noises he'd made all day long. Back then, Tony had loved the game and the idea behind it. He'd thought that it was funny.
It just didn't seem quite as funny anymore.
"You can go now. Don't be late for school."
His father didn't turn around when he dismissed his son and Tony was grateful for that. It was so much easier to deal with the man's back than with his eyes.
He hushed out of the office and stopped in the hallway for a few shaky breaths. Tony knew that it was ridiculous, but sometimes he was sure that the air in his father's office was different than the air that the rest of the world breathed. More heavy. More oppressive.
Everytime he left that room, it felt like someone lifted a huge burden from his shoulders.
He hated that office and dreaded the day that it would belong to him.
Rose, the oldest house maid in the DiNozzo household, was already waiting for him when he reached the front door, his school bag clutched in her wrinkled hands.
He was momentarily confused by the odd look that she was giving him but then remembered the little scene in the office. His cheek must have turned bright red by now. Maybe it would even leave a bruise. He realized that it hurt a little but not enough to bother him. He was used to pain by now.
And he knew that that was definitely not a good sign.
The boy plastered a big sunny smile on his face that always seemed to distract people from his wounds.
"Good morning Rose."
"Good morning Tony." The smile became a little bit more genuine. Tony liked Rose. She was the only one in this house that didn't call him 'Anthony' or 'Sir', and who treated him like the kid he was.
Although that could be quite annoying sometimes.
"Did you brush your teeth? And what did you eat for breakfast? You did eat something, right? You are too skinny Tony, that can't be healthy."
Tony groaned good-naturedly. He liked Rose, but when she was in mother hen mode, you better gave her a wide berth.
"Relax! I brushed my teeth and ate breakfast. Everything is peachy in Tony-land." He brushed past her and jogged backwards to be able to wave at her. "See you later."
"Ah Tony!" The urgent call made him stop and look back. Rose stood in the doorway and shifted from one foot to another before she smiled wearily at him. "Don't forget the business dinner tonight. Come straight home."
Tony's good mood vanished but his smile didn't.
"Don't worry. I won't forget it."
He turned around and ran the next few blocks. He only slowed down when his father's estate wasn't in sight anymore.
How could he forget? They had one of those damn buisness dinners almost every night since Tony'd turned twelve. His father wanted him to gather experience for the day that he would lead 'DiNozzo Enterprises'. While other kids were outside, playing football, Tony had to sit in a smoky room with some old geezers who discussed the current stock price. Not his idea of fun.
And Tony didn't even know, if he wanted to take over the family business. He wasn't strictly against it, but since he'd been born it had been a matter of fact that he would do his father's job one day. Tony had never had the chance to, at least, consider another career. It didn't help that he didn't even know whether he had certain talents. Between school, tutors and dinners, there wasn't much time for such things.
It was rather simple actually; he just didn't know what he wanted to do one day.
Tony had decided to stick with the family business right now. His father seemed a little bit easier to please since he attended those meetings. He wasn't proud or anything like that, but he seemed mostly content with the situation and that was all that Tony could ever wish for. A content, not too violent father. There was something incredibly sad about that, but Tony didn't stop long enough to think about it too much. Thinking about it wouldn't change anything. He could only try to please his father as long as possible by acting as if he would love to work in the family business.
And maybe those stiff people and boring conversations would grow on him over time. Maybe the lump of dread, that would settle in the pit of his stomach everytime his father announced another appointment, would disappear when he was older. Yeah, maybe all he needed was a little bit more time...
A high pitched cry jerked Tony out of his thoughts. He looked up to see a little girl, maybe seven or eight years old, kneeing on the pavement just a few feet in front of him. She wore a bright pink dress with matching bright pink ribbons in her black hair. Tony could see that she tried very hard not to cry, but lost the battle when she saw her scraped palms.
The boy was instantly at her side with a handkerchief in his hand.
His mother had told him to always help other people, especially when it was a young lady. It was one of the few advices a sober Mrs. DiNozzo had been able to give her son and Tony took it to heart.
"Don't cry, it's not too bad. See?"
The little girl stared at him with wide eyes, while Tony gently wiped the dirt from her tiny hands. She had a very healthy tan and her eyes were bright blue. Tony couldn't help but think that she would be a beautiful woman one day.
"There you are!" he said cheerily and helped her to her feet.
She smiled shyly up at him and rubbed a tiny arm over her running nose. She had stopped crying by then. "Thank you Mister."
Tony frowned a bit at the formal address. He had enough of that at home.
"Call me Tony. You are a very polite little lady..."
"Mia" the little girl offered happily. "And Daddy says that, when someone helps you, you have to be polite."
"Daddy says so, huh?" Tony muttered, smiling wistfully.
Mia nodded eagerly, not noticing the drop in Tony's mood. "Uh-huh! I fell because I was running too fast, but I didn't want to be late for school. My Mommy made me those ribbons, see? I want to show them Ashley, that's my friend, because she says that ribbons are really cool and..."
Tony grinned and ruffled her hair, while Mia babbled on about her friends at school and why ribbons were really cool. The lady sure was a talker, wasn't she? Tony instantly worried about her. It was okay with him, but she really shouldn't be too friendly with other strangers.
But it also made something funny to his gut to see her laughing again, because of something he'd done. If his father only knew how satisfying it could be to help others without ulterior motives. Tony had alway loved it to help others.
He wondered if that could count as a talent...
"...so I tripped and it hurt but now it doesn't anymore! Thank you!" Mia stopped and looked up at him with expectant eyes. Tony had to bite his tongue so he wouldn't laugh when he noticed that the little girl was quite out of breath after her rant.
"That's nice, but I have to go now and you should too if you want to show your friends your awesome ribbons before school starts." He bowed to her, but exaggerated until his nose almost touched the ground. "It was my pleasure."
Little Mia giggled at his antics and also bowed, although with more gracefulness than Tony had. "Mine too."
She took off and ran down the street, apparently already forgetting what had happened the last time she'd sped off like this.
Tony watched her for a few seconds and was about to turn away when a black SUV caught his eye.
Something was off about the car. The windows were tinted and the license plate number looked as if someone had deliberately smashed some dirt on it, so that no one would be able to read the numbers. You could still read them but only barely and even Tony who had very good eyes had to squint before he could make them out. He didn't know why he memorized the numbers but he couldn't help it. Something was definitely wrong here...
The black SUV was driving too slow and...
Tony gasped. That's why the scene was so unsettling. It looked like the car was following little Mia.
Tony's legs began to move on their own, and he heard himself scream Mia's name at the same time as the black car began to speed up, heading straight for the unaware girl.
Tony was still several meters away when the car came to a screeching halt besides the girl and Tony watched in horror when a door opened and a very hairy man jumped out and grabbed Mia's arm.
Somewhere in his dazed mind Tony realized that he should be terrified and running away from the kidnapping that was taking place in front of his eyes, instead of running towards it. But his legs kept moving and his mouth kept screaming Mia's name. He didn't have time to be afraid. There was only one clear thought in his mind.
It didn't matter that the guy had a gun and was ten times bigger than Tony. It didn't even matter that his father would be furious with him when he wouldn't come home in time for the business dinner.
All that mattered was, that there was someone in danger and that Tony was the only one around to help. And all that mattered was, that Mia had started to cry and to trash and to scream for her Mommy and Daddy and "TONY!".
So Tony ran until he could clearly see the man's face. In a matter of seconds he had it memorized like he'd done with the license plate. The pessimist inside of him whispered that it wouldn't matter when he was dead, but Tony ignored him. He reached the still struggling couple and raised his school bag over his head and slammed it into the hairy man's face. For the first time in his young life, Anthony was happy that his teachers only used the heaviest schoolbooks for their classes.
The goon groaned but didn't seem to be hurt too badly and didn't let go of Mia's arm. Tony was about to kick the kidnapper where it hurt a man the most, when a blinding pain exploded in the back of his head and stopped him cold.
During the three seconds that his body needed to hit the ground, Tony realized several things.
He realized that the goon hadn't been alone and that he should have paid more attention to his surroundings. He realized that he couldn't hear little Mia's screams anymore, but the sound of screeching tires that slowly died away.
But above all, he realized that he would miss dinner again, and that his father would probably kill him.
And then everything went black.