I know, I know, I know...I should be focusing on my other stories...but I couldn't resist! Cliched plotlines, anyone? Yes, please. So I know that the ages and stuff are nothing like this on the show...but this is AU, so deal with it. It's more of a study of what our favorite characters might have been like as teenagers or young adults. Plus it's just fun.

Disclaimer: I don't even own a high school.

Principal Vance was not in a particularly good mood. He had spent a ridiculous length of time waiting in line for his coffee, only to find that the barista, a teenage girl who he faintly remembered from her frequent visits to his office before she had dropped out, had gotten his order wrong.

Things had not improved since then. He'd arrived at the office and discovered that there was a stain of unknown origins on his favorite shirt. Then his secretary had called to inform him, with a dubious coughing fit, that she had chosen today, of all days, to fall ill.

So Vance was forced to implement the old coffee maker, change into his spare shirt, which happened to clash atrociously with his tie, and call in a substitute secretary...and it was only the first day of the school.
All in all, the school year was not looking particularly promising.

...

Jenny Shepard was forcibly jolted out of a deep sleep by a particularly irritating roommate, who seemed determined to shake her until sufficient brain damage had been obtained.

"Jen! Phone for you!"

"Go 'way," Jenny moaned with admirable coherency, considering the sleepy state of her mind.

"But Jenny, the phone-"

Jenny forced herself into a sitting position, nearly blacking out from the sudden transition from sleep into semi-consciousness. "Who is it?" She demanded crankily.
She received no answer, but was offered the handset, which was precariously held together with liberal amounts of duct tape. "H'llo?"

"Miss Shepard?"

She suppressed a groan. No one called her 'Miss Shepard' but law enforcement and her boss, and as she was currently unemployed, it was hardly likely that the latter was calling.

"Yes. Who's calling?" She asked politely, sitting up a bit straighter in bed and running a hand through her wild mess of red curls.

"This is Principal Vance, of Quantico High School. You applied for a position here at the beginning of the summer, I seem to recall?"

Jenny bolted out of bed, pausing to look at her bedraggled appearance despairingly before flying for the bathroom. "Um, yes. How are you, Principal, sir?"

The bathroom door was locked, someone belting out Britney Spears' 'Toxic' lyrics at the top of their lungs within, the shower doing little too disguise the noise. Jenny cringed and hoped fervently that the principal could not hear the ruckus as she pounded on the door of the bathroom.

"I've been better," Vance admitted. "My secretary has chosen today, of all days, to call in sick, and I will no doubt have a clown's car worth of kids lining up in the office in half an hour, full of complaints."

Jenny abandoned formalities and barged into the bathroom, ignoring the squeal of protest from within the shower that accompanied her abrupt intrusion.

"Of course, sir," she said, cradling the phone between her cheek and shoulder as she rummaged through the massive quantities of hair accessories and old makeup for a hairbrush. "When would you need me by?"

"Yesterday," came the crisp and far from helpful reply.

Jenny abandoned her fruitless search for a comb and mouthed frantically at the shower's occupant, peeking indignantly around the edge of the shower curtain, to get out immediately.

As the annoyed girl did as she was told, at a pace that seemed teeth-grindingly slow to Jenny, Jenny hastened to assure her impatient employer, "That should be totally fine, sir. I will be over before you know it."

Jenny crossed her fingers, said goodbye, and headed full-tilt into meltdown zone.

...

Leroy Jethro Gibbs was in the process of tip-toeing past the main office when he was practically bowled over by a frazzled-looking red-head, who was running at a speed that he had not thought possible for a woman in high heels.

He had turned at the last moment, and thus had had time to brace for impact, but the woman was not as lucky. Her entire armful of papers, and an extra-large coffee, crashed to the ground.

The woman cursed, then blushed as she realized that she was not alone. "Oh my gosh," she scurried to scoop up the mess of now coffee-stained files. "I'm so sorry. It's just-"

"You spilled your coffee," Gibbs finished calmly, stooping to help collect the sodden papers. "If it had been my coffee, I'd've said worse."

The woman smiled tiredly and looked down at her armful of yellowed documents. "Well this was not exactly how I wanted to make my first impression."

"You're new?"

The woman shook her head, making her short red curls swing. "Substitute. But, you know, I thought maybe if I was totally on top of things, I'd be asked to stay on." She laughed ruefully. "Wishful thinking, I know."

Gibbs nodded sympathetically, but did not utter any false hopes. Instead, he offered the only tidbit of information he could think of that could possibly ease the situation. "There's a coffee maker in the teacher's room."

The woman laughed and shifted her bundle of damp papers until she could extend a hand."I'm Jenny Shepard, and I promise that I'm not usually such a mess. This was a last minute call, and I literally was in bed when I talked to Vance."

Gibbs took the hand and shook. "Call me Gibbs. I'm the gym teacher here."

"Well," Jenny said, glancing nervously into the office. "I should get going. I don't want to add tardiness to my list of faults. Thank you for all your help."

"No problem," Gibbs answered. "I should go, too, before Vance sees me. Don't want to start the day with an argument."

...

Anthony DiNozzo, as a rule, did not 'do' school. Oh, sure, he went, if only to get away from the house for a while, though at this point he was pretty sure the teachers would rather he just stayed home.

Today he had been tempted to just...not go. After all, his dad was away on business, something that happened quite regularly, to the point where it had entirely lost its novelty. Throwing wild parties while the folks were out, after all, was only fun when 'the folks' actually came home at some point.

Not that he wanted that whole enchilada. Things were so much easier when there was no one around to nag him about homework, when there was no one to frown at his baggy jeans or the rather disheveled state of his hair. But sometimes, late at night, usually after he'd freaked himself out by watching one horror film or another, he'd wish there was someone, anyone, there to tell him to turn that junk off and get to bed. It was on nights like that that he would leave all the lights burning, trying to lessen the overwhelming feeling of being alone.

Last night had been one of those nights. Tony had gotten himself a little freaked watching The Shining, and had woken up to a house that was bright in the rainy early-morning dim. He groaned a bit and weighed the pros and cons of going to school.

The cons were obvious - um, school in general kinda stank.

Pros - school would give him something to do, other than laying on the couch and watching horror flicks that scared him more than he was willing to admit.

With that decided, Tony got to his feet. A look at the alarm clock told him he'd slept late. He would have time to shower only if he skipped breakfast. But that was okay. After all, he didn't have anyone there to remind him that breakfast was the most important meal of the day.

After showering, he hurried out the door, shoving a granola bar in his pocket for the road.

One of the many good things about having a loaded dad who was never home was that finding a ride was not an issue. He had his pick of the Porsche, the Mustang, and the Thunderbird. Today, to cheer himself up, he took the Mustang. He'd always had a weakness for the classics.

As he roared down the road, cramming a granola bar into his mouth as he went, his mood lightened considerably.

Maybe this wouldn't be so bad after all.

...

Abigail Sciuto was bouncing up and down at the bus stop in such a way that she was beginning to regret drinking coffee at breakfast. She'd gotten hooked on caffeine over the summer, and now she couldn't get through the day without it, even if it did leave her a bit...excitable.

But, then, Abby had always been hyper. She pitied the people who'd had to put up with her in nursery school. She certainly must have been a handful.

The weather was cool, as if the earth had finally looked at the calendar and realized that it was September. A brisk wind kept a constant flurry of dried leaves cascading from the trees like a fiery snowfall. Abby shuffled her booted feet, relishing the crunch issued by the fallen leaves underfoot.

She had a funny feeling in her stomach that she thought might not be entirely the large cup of coffee's fault. She was a bit nervous, to be entirely truthful.
She had undergone some changes over the summer, and she wasn't sure how people were going to react.

It wasn't such a big deal, she reasoned, as she wouldn't know anybody anyway. That was what made public high school so great. It was, like, a clean slate. She could be anyone she wanted to be, and there would be no one there to tell her who she was. It was a second chance.

Abby's middle school had been private, the kind of snobby boarding school with the kind of queen bees you thought existed only in those silly 'realistic' fiction books about 'teen drama,' where the loser who hides in the background suddenly becomes cool, probably stealing the mean bee's boyfriend in the process.

There was another character in those silly books, the devoted follower of the queen bee, who walked around with her mouth open and her eyes closed. Abby still cringed when she thought about how she'd been back then, so desperate to be just like everyone else. It embarrassed her.

She'd had an eye-opener after a guest speaker, a scientist from the FBI, had come to talk to the eight grade science class about forensics. Abby had been intrigued by the way the man found patterns in the chaos, in a way that she had never been interested in anything school-related before. After that, things snowballed, ending in a sleepover fall-out to end all fall-outs. A social life down the drain, and Abby had totally not cared.

And it felt good.

And, even though she was nervous, Abby felt empowered, because not caring about what other people thought of you meant that those people couldn't get to you. And that pretty much meant that you won.

...

Timothy McGee took his sweet time getting to the bus stop, going out of his way to crunch each and every dead leaf underfoot and doing his very best not to think about school. If he thought about it, he'd get nervous, and if he got nervous he would stutter and sweat and flub up his words. Which would not be a good way to make first impressions.

The bus wouldn't be coming for another five minutes or so, and it wasn't like he was in any rush. Quite the opposite, in fact. He'd spent an entire month dreading the end of each day, because it meant he was one day closer to school starting again.

It wasn't that he didn't like school. The sad thing was, he kinda did. He liked the challenge of a particularly difficult assignment, the purposeful drive he got when he was that close to finding an answer. Yeah, he guessed he kinda even...liked school.

It was the other stuff he didn't like, the space between classes, the free time, because it was then that he realized that he just did not, and probably never would, fit in.

He wasn't on the football team, had never even talked to a cheerleader, and hung out with fellow geeks at lunch. He was, in essence, a nobody. But even with the other nobodies, he felt like an outsider.

It wasn't really so bad. Tim had always been a bit of a loner, and high school wasn't like it was in movies. People under the social radar were really just that. They were ignored, not picked on…and the lockers were way too small to shove people into.

As he neared the bus stop, Tim was surprised to see another student waiting beneath the massive oak tree. He had been the only person at this stop last year, as a freshman, and he had just assumed the case would be the same this year. As far as he knew, there was no one else his age in the neighborhood.

The girl was dressed...well, oddly was putting it nicely. She was wearing a cropped leather jacket, a red plaid miniskirt that was scandalously skimpy, and fishnet tights under black platform boots. Tim blinked. You'd think that if someone in the neighborhood went around looking like that, he'd remember it, but he had no idea who the blonde pigtailed girl was.

She turned as Tim crunched up, fixing him with alert green eyes that were positively coated in eye makeup. "Hi! Are you a freshman, too? Is it just me and my caffeine, or is this totally exciting?"

Tim shifted awkwardly. "Um, no. I'm a sophomore."

The girl's hands flew to her red mouth. "Oops. I'm so sorry. It's not that you look young or anything, 'cause you obviously don't. I guess I just assumed that you would be new, since I was, which shows how self-centered I am, right?"

Whoa. Either this girl had drank massive amounts of something caffeinated, or she was a squirrel disguised as a Goth...although, Tim noted distractedly, she was pretty cute...for a squirrel, at least.

...

Ziva David was not scared.

This was important, because fear made you weak, and she was definitely not weak; therefore, she could not be scared...though the knot in her stomach suggested otherwise.

It was just...this was like nothing she had ever done before. She could fire a gun, kill a man with her bare hands, no problem. But she was not a perfect blond model like all the girls in that stupid movie they'd played on the flight here had been. And while Ziva was fairly confident that she could take every one of those girls, she was not quite as confident in her ability to be like one of those girls.

She was not concerned about this for the reasons that the stupid heroine in the movie had been concerned. She didn't feel a pressing need to wear skin-tight jeans and date a shaggy-haired guy on the football team. But hadn't it been drilled into her from a young age that in order to avoid conflict in an unfamiliar situation, you should do your best to blend in?

Ziva considered this for a long moment, until the bus went over a rut in the road, jarring its occupants and causing her to slam her forehead on the thick glass of the vehicle's window. The bump seemed to knock some sense into her.

She was done with everything they had taught her. She had made her choices, and now it was up to her to decide who she was going to be. She could be an entirely different person, and no one would be any the wiser on her...shady origins.

Not that Ziva wanted to be one of those annoying blondes, with their whiny voices and fake laughs that reminded her, oddly, of one of those little yappy dogs that her great aunt used to keep in the house. Ziva had a scar on her ankle from a mishap when she was six, when she had accidentally trodden on a particularly vicious little thing.

No, she did not want that, nor was she sure she could ever force herself to be like that. She had been raised a liar, but there was a difference between a person who could lie and a person whose entire life was a lie. She was not sure she could be so false.

Besides… that shaggy haired Neanderthal had not been quite as attractive as that stupid heroine seemed to think.

Shall I continue, dear readers?