Disclaimer: I'm not Bellesario or CBS, so I don't claim to own them.
Genre: Gen; Character Study
Word Count: 1,000
Written For: ncis1000words Challenge #14 - Reverse Fandom: M*A*S*H
Note: Title of M*A*S*H episode 02x24 inspired this fic...
Crossposted: ncisfanfic; ncis_fic; ncis_haven; ncis1000words
Summary: Anthony DiNozzo learned early how to hide his intelligence.
It started with his father. Aside from a few punishments that were well deserved, his father never hit him. However, the man avoided all other contact as well. There were no hugs, no pats on the shoulder for a job well done, not even a handshake. Along with the physical distance, his father kept an emotional distance. He didn’t hear words of praise, he never heard the phrase ‘I love you,’ and it was always Anthony, never Tony.
The one thing his father did do was to discuss his aptitude when it came to certain areas of study. His father had taken over the family’s shipping and transportation business at the young age of thirty. He had quickly made the company a force to be reckoned with in the business world and he had high hopes that his only son would follow in his footsteps, armed with a Harvard business degree.
While they didn’t interact in other ways, each night was spent in his father’s study pouring the older man’s drink and reporting on his day. It began the day he turned six and, when he was sent to the military academy, it was scaled back to one night a week.
No matter what he reported to the man, it never seemed to satisfy him. His grades were high; the highest in his class in fact. He was the captain of his team for both basketball and football. But it was never enough to gain what he wanted most from the man, so he gave up.
He was sixteen when he determined that he would need to make his own way in life. He still absorbed all the knowledge he could, but his test scores didn’t reflect that fact. He let himself slip back until the school saw him as just a percentage in the top of his class.
Gradually, his father stopped the reporting. All hopes that he would be the son his father wanted had faded. The acceptance of the sports scholarship to Ohio State had sealed their fate, driving what little connection the father and son had apart.
When he started at Ohio State, he kept his routine in tact. He kept his grades high, but he didn’t excel. He knew he was capable of more, but he didn’t want or need it to reach his goals.
When the injury took away his dreams of professional sports, he fell back on something he had kept quiet. Over the years at Ohio State, he had found a fascination with criminology and had quietly taken enough classes to surpass the requirements for a minor in the field of study. As he laid in the hospital bed the day after his accident, he called his academic advisor and had a long conversation of what ifs and how to accomplish it. When he hung up the phone, he had a new goal. And with one intense semester of classes and a summer session, he would graduate with a double major in phys ed and criminology.
It wasn’t long before he found himself in the police academy and loving every minute of it. He quickly adopted a persona for the others to see and believe. He didn’t want to be seen as the best. He wanted to be average and not draw the ire of others around him if he was seen as better than them. He held his tongue on the majority of questions their instructors asked, letting others take the spotlight.
Occasionally, an instructor would see through him and ask why he didn’t do his best. They would tell him that he could move the ranks and become a detective quicker if he applied himself. He held that he was doing the best he could, and left it at that.
Upon his graduation from the academy, he settled in quickly to the routine of a rookie cop. At times, the work was boring when all he was doing was shuffling paper or driving the city for hours on end with nothing to do but look for trouble. He joked with the other officers on the force. He acted like the college frat boy and ex-jock they expected him to be.
As time passed, he began looking into the backlog of cold cases in the department. The precinct did not have enough funding to hire someone full time for the job, so he took it upon himself to research them off the clock. He made connection after connection, always passing the links off to detectives on duty. When the captain confronted him about all his progress and how well he was doing, he panicked and ran. The captain had talked of promotions and recognition, and he did not want any of those things.
Peoria turned in Philadelphia, which turned into Baltimore. He did accept promotions, but only as he moved to a new location. Even with the new position in the force, he was still the rookie and would be seen as a nobody. That’s the way he preferred to keep it.
Then Baltimore turned into NCIS and a position as a federal agent. While working for Special Agent Gibbs was the best thing that had ever happened to him, it also had a downside. He was now faced with a person who saw through all his tricks. Gibbs had reviewed all his records going back to the time he was the best in class. Before he was even hired, Gibbs had confronted him on the records, demanding to know what had happened when he turned sixteen.
He had provided the only answer he could when faced with the determination that was Gibbs on a mission. Work smarter, not harder. Gibbs had just stared at him for several long moments before giving a curt nod and a brief smile. The, “You’ll do,” that slipped from the older man’s lips as he left him sitting alone in the conference room with a hire packet, was more praise than he had ever received.