"Why are we all starting the school on the same day if we're from different families?" Tony asked the doctor. "Won't that look suspicious?"
"The school has certain days where new students can enroll," he responded. "We're also all living in one house to split the cost of raising such large families on a military salary. And if anyone asks, we met at a conference for parents whose spouses are deployed are navy deployed and bonded over raising such unique children on our own."
"Gifted children often experience emotional intensity and social struggles, which can make their upbringing more demanding," Reid supplied for the others in the car.
"We're almost here," the Dr. Wither announced. A set of large black gates opened as they pulled in to reveal a slim, six story building with tan bricks, a dark brown roof, and dark brown shutters. Dr. Wither pulled the large van into a parking space and all of the 'kids' climbed out.
"I'll see you this afternoon," he said, seeming like any normal parent. "Have a good first day."
When they got inside, they introduced themselves to the receptionist and she handed them each some papers stapled together. Among them were a schedule, school code, and handbook. Printed across the top of the schedules, along with their names, address, and birthdays was either the word Career, GATE, or A-GATE. Aaron, Jason, Derek, Emily, Ziva, Tim, Abby, and Ducky were marked as Career; Jethro, Penelope, and JJ were marked as GATE; and Spencer and Tony were marked as A-GATE.
The receptionist told them all to take a seat while she called up a tour guide for each of them. Within a few minutes, three kids arrived in the office. A broad shouldered boy who looked around sixteen or seventeen by the name of Saul Green took the Career kids; a Denver Thompson took the GATEs, and an eleven year old Blair Thorne would serve as a tour guide for the A-GATEs.
"Here's how it works," she started explaining as soon as they started walking up the stairs after being shown the cafeteria, counselors' office, and front office. "Career kids take two to seven classes a day in whatever they're good at. GATE kids spend majority of the day in a gifted classroom, but then they have an hour to two hours of what we call their major, which is something they have a particular talent or interest in. A-GATE, which is what we all are, is Advanced Gifted and Talented. Basically, it means we're at the top of the intellectual food chain, but we're at the bottom of just about everything else. Majority of us are socially challenged, emotionally intense, and usually are, as the adults brush it off as, "picked on" by a lot of Career kids, a few of older GATE kids, and a whole bunch of people who don't attend Drakkon."
She hopped up the final step in the flight and quickly began giving a brief tour of the Career student floor. She glanced at her watch, and began rushing the two new students towards the elevator. When they got inside she jammed the bottom for the sixth floor and shifted from foot to foot nervously. As the doors closed, a bell rung and older, larger kids flooded the hallways, rushing into classrooms and Blair breathed a sigh of relief as the elevators began moving.
"Let's go on up to the top floor and work our way down," she said. "The sixth floor is A-GATE, library, and special resources." She explained some more as she began touring them around. "A-GATEs spend the morning and lunch time with the GATE kids, but after that we come up here."
Unlike all the floors they had previously seen which had been divided into individual classrooms; the A-GATE area was divided into two, larger rooms. One had equipment for chemistry, white boards, plants growing near a window, and a row of fish tanks and cages which contained fish, snakes, and the occasional small mammal. The other had rows upon rows of books, tubs of clay and art supplies, type writers, pads of paper, and a shelf full of trivia games.
The fifth floor was dorms which were organized by the color of their paint. Outside each was a signup sheet that was designed similarly to a calendar and had a pen clipped to it. A glimpse in one of the empty rooms showed a full mattress on a plain bed frame, a wooden desk equipped with a lamp, a rolling chair, and a night stand.
"In the light green room, the sun comes in through the window in the morning so a lot of people don't like it because it makes it harder to sleep in if you leave the blinds open," Blair supplied. "So if you have to get a room last minute, that one is usually open."
Blair took them down to the GATE floor and glanced at their schedules to see that they were both in her class. She pointed out the restroom, the staircase, and then took them into their classroom.
"Mrs. Benson," she said as they entered. "We've got two new A-GATE students. They're brothers, but not twins so," she looked pointedly at nine or ten other kids in the class "don't bother asking who is older."
"I started kindergarten early," Tony supplied. "Got too bored being at home by myself while the rest of my siblings where in school."
"Welcome to Drakkon," Mrs. Benson said. "We just finished our electricity unit. Some of the kids are decorating their wind mills and others are reading, drawing, writing, or working on tessellations, so today is a good day for you to just become accustomed to the classroom and meet the other students."
For the next half hour they roamed around the classroom, figuring out where everything was and introducing themselves to the other students before sitting down. Tony sat beside Blair and Spencer sat beside him and a slightly chubby blond boy by the name of David Casio. Blair showed them how to make tessellations and let them look at hers for an example.
When lunch rolled around, the small class was set lose to go to the cafeteria to purchase their lunch or eat the food they had brought. Not knowing what the school would be serving, Spencer and Tony had both brought a sack lunch, and were directed by Mrs. Benson that since the weather was getting cooler, they would have to eat at the designated table for their class, but maybe once it warmed up outside they could eat behind the school on occasion.
To their slight surprise, Mrs. Benson ate with the students and participating in conversation with them. But with past experience in gifted education groups, they both knew that gifted majority of gifted kids actually preferred adult conversation to communicating with their non-gifted age mates.
When Blair returned from buying her lunch, she sat beside the boys again. It appeared she was taking them under her wing to help them get used to the school. The boys found this to be a good thing, as when they were talking, it came out in conversation that her father was a Marine, fitting her to the previous victims' profiles.
"A-GATE time," the two federal agents could here Blair whisper as Mrs. Benson announced that lunch was over and stood to throw her garbage away.
Blair gestured for them to follow her and showed them where to dump the remains of their lunch before she all but ran from the lunch room and to the elevator. She went to a secluded table in a corner of the A-GATE room and began working with a whiteboard, a pad of paper, and was charting her work on a computer.
"What are you working on?" Tony asked.
"When an A-GATE student gets a project completed early they can go do some of the work in a Career classroom is they want to," she said. "I got bored, so I'm doing a project on the three body problem."
"Physics or classical mechanics?" Reid asked.
"Physics," she responded, soon becoming lost in her work.
When the teacher arrived, the introduced themselves and she responded by telling them she was Mrs. Samsun and to fill free to do anything, so long as it could be linked to education. Apparently that was quiet a lot as she had no problem with a boy who was wrapping a thin cord around the ceiling fan.
"Hey guys," Dr. Wither said as he picked up the students. "How was your day?"
"Good," they chorused and began firing off details about their day. Once the van doors closed and they were out of the school parking lot to conversation took on a more serious tone.
"I've got a potential victim in my class," Spencer reported. "Her name is Blair Thorne, she's A-GATE, and her father is a Marine."
"I'll pull her file," Tony said, pulling a laptop from the cloth pocket on the back of the chair in front of him. His small hands moved nimbly on the keyboard and control pad until he stopped and began reading aloud. "She was adopted four years ago. Her mother has one biological son and four adopted children. She had an IEP at her last school-"
"What's an IEP?" Ziva interrupted.
"An individualized education program," Reid responded. "There's used for students with learning disabilities or mental disorders."
"She's ADHD and asynchronous," the NCIS agent continued.
"What's asynchronous?" Derek questioned.
"Asynchrony is present in majority of gifted children and adults," Tony began explaining, careful to mask his irritation at the constant interruptions. "It's when your mental age, chronological age, physical development, and emotional maturity don't match up."
"So basically it's an immature person who's too smart for their own good?" McGee asked. Tony's eyes narrowed.
"The children who have it are miserable," he said darkly. "Imagine being as intelligent and mentally competent as you are now, maybe even more so, but being confined to the physical abilities and rules of a child and never being allowed to have a conversation with anyone of anywhere close to equal intelligence. And then add to that the emotions that don't belong in your mind, whether you have body of a ten year old, the mind of an eighteen year old, and the emotions of seven year old, or if you have the body of a twelve year old, the mind of a fifteen year old, and the emotions of an adult."
"Aren't you asynchronous?" Dr. Wither asked, interrupting the awkward moment of silence.
"What is with you and telling them stuff I don't want them to know?" Tony burst out; sounding like the eleven year old he physically appeared to be.
When they got to their 'home' Tony quickly went to the room he shared with Gibbs and Spencer. Left the door cracked upon only a fourth of an inch laid stomach down on his bed. He slipped a set of black headphones over his ears and hit play on his IPod laying his head down on his arms which were crossed over his pillow.
"Tony doesn't take well to having his secrets exposed," Jethro said to the man as he sauntered into the kitchen.
"I wasn't aware that he hadn't told his teammates of his condition," Dr. Wither said.
"You knew that he hadn't," Gibbs said, staring down the man. "If he hadn't told them about being gifted, he most definitely would not have told them that he was asynchronous."
"They're his teammates," James said with a shrug. "They disserve to know his weaknesses."
"Tony worked hard to prove that he was capable of working at NCIS," Gibbs growled. "He doesn't need convincing his team that he is incapable. Pull something like this again, and I'll see that no one within NCIS or FBI will ever want to work with you, or the AADD."