AN: This fic was born from my displeasure with last week's episode and a generally frustrating day. It's a bit dark and kinda on the short side, but I did what I could. Please let me know what you thought of it (I always appreciate constructive criticism as well). Thanks! Hope you enjoy!

This is the life, I think to myself, reclining on the couch and sipping my…fourth? Fifth? Sixth bottle of beer? Eh, lost count.

Just relaxing with my poison in hand, soaking in the lovely emptiness of my apartment. I can't afford to keep the heat on for too long, so it's a bit chilly. And I don't want to wake up the neighbors by turning on the TV, so it's pretty silent, too. Except for the mice scurrying in the walls. Damn, I forgot to call that exterminator. Oh well, there's always tomorrow.

I bring the bottle to my lips again, savoring the feel of the cold liquid sliding down my throat.

It's great, it really is. How could I not be happy all the time when I have this to come home to?

…Did you catch that? That was sarcasm. Subtle though, right? I believe the best trait in a comedian is subtlety. Sadly underrated nowadays. But not by me. I've perfected the art. After all, I am the class clown. Can't have someone taking my title now, can I?

I think back to Ziva's words. The look in her eyes as she answered my question. The question I've been asking myself for years. The question that's gone unanswered my whole life.

Who am I?

Thank God Ziva knew. Without her and the rest of my team to remind me of the truth, I sometimes get lost in the many faces of Tony DiNozzo. But she was there, there to tell me who I really am. Thank God she knew at least.

"You are Tony DiNozzo…the class clown. And that is why we love you."

And unknowingly, Ziva had answered two more inquiries as well. Do they care about me? Yes, apparently I'm loved. If so, why? Because I'm the Class Clown, of course! Who doesn't want a constant source of entertainment, available all day, every day in their very own office?

Well that's me! Ignore the man behind the curtain, he's not important. He tried to sneak out today, and almost succeeded, but I shoved him back behind the curtain, where he belongs. Couldn't have done it without the help of my fellow agents and friends.

They know me so well.


But maybe this time, the joke's on them. Because they love me, they care about me, they value me as a person…But in reality, they don't know me at all.

They know and love the Class Clown, the jokester, the playboy. The man behind the curtain? The person behind the mask? That's me. That's me, and they have no idea. But they're content to love the façade, and I'm not about to insist otherwise.

I'm wearing the mask of a clown, and even when it slips, my true identity is never revealed. Hooray for me. It's almost like the perception of the world is backwards, and I've got everyone thinking that the real-me is the fake-me, and the mask is the true soul beneath. Ha. Guess I have them fooled, don't I?

How ironic.

I finally get someone to care, and they just fall in love with the mask.

What a joke.

I finally show some emotion, and they all insist it's not right. It's not me.

How fucking hilarious.

I foolishly forgot that I'm just the class clown. Good for jokes, great for laughs, and useless for anything else. Thankfully they were there to remind me, to set me straight. Thank God they were there to put me back in my rightful place.

Boy, was that funny. I'd laugh, but I'm a little busy drowning myself in alcohol. I'm pro at that as well, not that anyone else would know. They did for awhile, but I learned to mask it. I've learned to mask everything…Don't worry, though, I'm laughing on the inside. Or is that dying? Must be both.

"You are Tony DiNozzo…the class clown. And that is why we love you."

Tony DiNozzo: Class Clown. I should put that on my resume. Strengths: Laughing, joking, flirting, faking. Weaknesses: Everything else.

That's me, all right. Tony DiNozzo, Class Clown. Hope you've enjoyed the show. I'll be here all week! Oh wait, my mistake…I'll be here for the rest of my life.