CJ sat on the edge of her bed dressed in her usual jeans and t-shirt. Today was the first day of school; AGAIN. This was different though. This was the last first day of high school. Today CJ entered through the front doors as a senior. The problem was she felt that only part of her was going. Half of 'the gang' were going off to college, not one of them staying in the state. Things were going to be different. Quieter. CJ didn't like quiet.
Eating lunch with only the three of them that first week was the breaking point. They talked about classes and work and nothing else. CJ thought she was going to go mad if this was how the rest of the year was going to play out.
Her saving grace was that she was working a couple of nights at week in Abby's lab. Her parents had relented in letting her have an after school job but had been very adamant that they would quickly revoke the privilege if her grades started to slide. Tony and Ziva knew with fewer friends and only school to look forward to CJ was likely to get into a lot of trouble without something keeping her busy. Working in the lab throughout the summer had shown them had mature and responsible she could be.
It was at lunch on the second week that CJ brought up the subject of pulling some sort of prank. Both Steven and Ainsley looked at her initially as though she had grown an extra set of eyes, but with very little convincing they were on board. They were seniors but that actually afforded them more freedom and time at school to set some things up.
Like in the past they started off small. CJ realized that it was the group effect that kept the momentum of the pranks going in the past. But after they witnessed the soap suds creeping down the hallway from their addition of liquid soap in the bottom of the staffroom dishwasher the three musketeers were back in business.
Next they placed duct tape over the optical sensors of all the mice in the computer lab. And then pull the same prank to the library computers. The special ed room computer lab was the last place to have the same stunt pulled but since it seemed to be working so well they thought they should be fair in their devious plans.
All was going so well throughout the fall. As the weather grew cooler they continued with their small pranks. Setting up the music room chairs on the drama class stage was one of the larger and more time consuming pranks but they were able to pull it off without a hitch. Halloween loomed on the horizon. CJ wanted to set something up a little more elaborate and since the previous capers had been so well received she had 2 happy volunteers to join her.
This particular prank took a bit more time and materials to set up. Over the few weeks leading up to Halloween CJ, Ainsley and Steven all collected feathers from around the school yard, their homes and the park and placed them in small cotton bags. Then CJ purchases a pound of ground beef and kept it frozen until closer to the date in question. The day before Halloween CJ, Steven and Ainsley all crept out behind the school and silently broke into the maintenance shed. Carefully taping their packages under the school lawn mowers they snuck back out to class.
The idea was that when the grounds keeper began mowing the lawn their special packages would fall through the blades and be strewn about the yard. Ground beef, red food colouring and feathers would make quite a mess and scare old Mr. Stekley into thinking he'd run over some unsuspecting critter. Because of the visual nature of this prank the 'three musketeers' wanted to be present when it all happened. Ultimately this would be their downfall.
When just before lunch they heard the mower start running they decided to take lunch out in the quad so that they could be witness to the "catastrophe". Late October was not really picnic weather in DC. When their packages eventually dropped low enough to go through the blades, sounding horrific and definitely startling Mr. Stekley he was not a happy camper. Mr. Stekley quickly looked around and seeing 3 students bent over double laughing in hysterics he quickly called on his walkie talkie for back up. Steven and Ainsley quickly slipped into the side door but CJ, having brought out her back pack had to return to grab it not wanting to leave any evidence behind. By the time CJ had collected her belongings Mr. Henry was on the scene as back up.
Both men approached CJ menacingly and she was unable to convince her feet to move her out of the area. Mr. Henry was the head of the maintenance department and was more than a little acquainted with a one Miss CJ DiNozzo has he and his staff had been called in to clean up several of her messes in the past. Grabbing the loop on her back pack he physically directed her towards the front office.
Standing before Natalie the deputy principals secretary who was also Steven's cousin, CJ looked the part of the guilty miscreant that she was. Natatlie having seen CJ on more than one occasion in this predicament simply asked "What now Mr. Henry?"
"This one" he said half shaking the bag attached to her back "is pulling pranks again." And then proceeded to tell her the details of the incident before asking "Can you please relay it to Ms. Turnbull please?"
"No problem Mr. Henry I will look after it from here" the young secretary answered.
"CJ sit down would you" she said being both dismissive and disappointed at the same time.
Neither deputy principal was in their office, being that it was lunch time, and so CJ was forced to wait sitting on the bench in the office. This was not a new situation for CJ by any means yet she had an overwhelming sense of guilt resting on her chest. Thinking about it she decided it was that she had fun pulling pranks but was old enough to understand their repercussions and that she really shouldn't be doing such things any more.
After another 20 minutes of waiting the guilt was replaced by indignation. No one had been hurt, no property had been damaged and so why was she sitting in the office waiting for the deputy vice principal. Mr. Stekley had every right to be angry and a good tongue lashing was probably in his right but there was no need to involved Mr. Henry and definitely no need to go to the principal's office.
After another 5 minutes the fact that they called the deputy principal Ms. Turnbull and not Mr. Black gave CJ pause. She decided that she needed a bit of clarification before this lady showed up.
"Yes CJ" the secretary answered sounding winded and bothered.
"Who's Ms. Turnbull and where is Mr. Black?" CJ stood leaning over the counter to look at the secretary.
"Mr. Black was promoted to principal over at McTaggart High. Ms. Turnbull is his replacement. Didn't you listen to the morning announcements on the first day of school?"
"Ya, I guess I missed that point" CJ said sitting back down on the bench to ponder the new information.
Mr. Black was a known entity and CJ liked that. She knew what to expect and how to handle him. But a new person wouldn't know CJ from a hole in the wall and that opened up many a possibility. CJ sat stewing about what was the best course of action when a very well dressed middle aged woman entered the office area and swept past her into Mr. Black's old office. The teen sat watching her facial expression and body language as Natalie described why CJ was sitting on her bench waiting for her. Instantly CJ knew how she was going to play this.