Disclaimer: I own none of the NCIS characters.
James seemed to be excited about starting a new school. Gibbs wasn't entirely sure – it was always hard to tell with James – but he'd tried to get him enthused by helping him organize his school stuff the night before. He'd also given James a phone that McGee had set up for him, with strict instructions for it to be kept on but only used in emergencies. He didn't approve of giving a kid so young a cell phone, but it seemed necessary in his line of work. Gibbs had checked out the school McGee had recommended – following his own Rule 3- and found it to his satisfaction. He'd considered sending James to public school, but had quickly dismissed the idea; it wasn't James' style.
It was 7.40, and James still hadn't come downstairs. Of course, they'd both had their breakfast and coffee, but James was taking an age to get ready. He'd found out this morning that James actually cared about what he wore – he'd had 3 different t-shirts on already. Finally, he made his way downstairs.
Gibbs gave James an exasperated look, 'James, you have two minutes to get your shoes on and get in the car.' Gibbs grabbed James' rucksack and went out the front door. James joined him a minute later. Gibbs stared at him closely.
'What?' James accused. Gibbs continued to look at him. He worked it out.
'James, I've told you can't wear your trainers to school. Go change them.'
'No, I like my trainers. They look better with these jeans.'
Gibbs just about managed not to jump down James' throat – he sounded like DiNozzo. They'd had a 'conversation' yesterday about this. He sighed – he just wasn't in the mood. He got out the car, slammed the door shut, and returned less than a minute later.
'I'm going to start driving. Change your shoes.'
As Gibbs turned the engine on, he saw James was being stubborn. He knew this would not be appreciated by his school
Very quietly he said, 'I mean it James. Don't push me. Not today.' James finally took the hint, a quiet Gibbs was never a good sign.
They made it to the school by 7.53. After parking, they made their way to the reception. The receptionist showed them to the Principal's office and told them to wait outside. Gibbs watched is watch as it made it closer to 8am – this was their meeting time.
At 8am exactly, the Principle came out his office and welcomed them inside. He got straight to the point.
'James, Mr. Gibbs – it's good to meet you. I like to meet with students and their parents who are entering this school mid-semester. You know, just to keep everyone updated and in the loop.'
'I understand.' Gibbs replied. He liked this man; he appeared to have authority and had no unnecessary things to say. Best of all, he had good timing.
'I'm Mr. Wilson, your Principal. I also teach Math – and as a matter of fact, you, James, are in my class.'
James eyes widened slightly. The Principal was oblivious to this, and was reading James' report. 'I'm not going to lie James, this isn't the best report I've ever seen.' He continued to study it.
'Here's what I think. I think you are a smart kid who doesn't work at their best. I can see you like Math – and a very good choice that is too. But I think you would enjoy other subjects too if you had the mind too.' Gibbs was impressed, he appreciated that he hadn't sugar-coated the rougher aspects of the report, but liked the constructive criticism.
'Would you agree James?'
James didn't answer. Gibbs stared at him. 'I guess so.'
'I don't bite James. You have to be able to talk to me.' The Principal said kindly.
'I can't let you leave today though without voicing my concerns. James, you've been suspended twice, is that right?'
'Would you care to explain to me why?'
With attitude, James said, 'I'm pretty sure it's right in front of you.'
Gibbs glared at James. 'No attitude, please James. Now why were you suspended?' Said the Pricipal sternly.
James scowled, before another look from Gibbs 'encouraged' him to talk. 'I swore at a teacher.' The Principal raised his eyebrows. 'A few times.' James added.
'And?' he prompted.
'I locked one out of her classroom.'
'I see. Well, that's in the past now, but you need to understand that this sort of behavior won't be tolerated here.'
'Any questions? Ok, so this is your timetable James, Mrs. Scott can take you to your first class. It's history with Mrs. Robinson, who is also your form tutor. I'll be back in a minute to say goodbye to you Mr. Gibbs – have a good day James, I'll see you in Math later.'
The Principal left the room. James turned to Gibbs, 'He's going to talk to you some more isn't he?' Gibbs marveled at the kid's intuition.
'Probably,' he said, 'but there's not much he needs to know so don't worry about it.'
James nodded. 'Come on, you have a class to get to.'
'I'm not sure Gibbs.' James said quietly, showing his first signs of anxiety.
Gibbs was reassuring, 'Look at me. You will be fine Matthew.' Finally, James nodded and with a reassuring push from Gibbs he proceeded to leave the room and walk with Mrs. Scott. Gibbs watched him leave with a pang of sadness before a smirk appeared on his face – he hoped the school could handle him!
'Ah Mr. Gibbs, could I have a few more moments of your time?'
Gibbs merely smiled and followed him once again into his office – he could see where this was going. 'James has some – unusual – facts in his records. A few years ago he went to 8 schools in 9 months. I'm concerned he may have trouble settling in, but I wanted to assure you that we will do our best to make him feel welcome.'
Gibbs merely nodded, that would be due to James' numerous foster placements (which he still hadn't mentioned). 'I understand he's in your charge now?'
'That's right. He adopted.' Gibbs replied curtly. The Principal felt the temperature drop, but he was just doing his job.
'Is there anything that has happened previously that I need to know about? It would be discreet information, but just so I am aware?'
'I see… Well, you know where we are if you ever need to contact us Mr. Gibbs.' He said, trying to lighten the mood. 'Thank you for coming in today.' They shook hands.
'Good morning Boss.'
Gibbs acknowledged his team, he could feel their eyes watching him walk to his desk. He sighed – 'He's fine.'
The team looked sheepish and continued with their work.
His cell phone rang. 'Gibbs.'
'Gear up. DiNozzo, gas the truck.'
Just another ordinary day at the office.
Back at NCIS, Gibbs phone rang for the 11th time that day. He was tempted to get McGee to put it on silent. He frowned at the number – it read Plato Elementary.
'Mr. Gibbs. It's Mrs Robinson here, from James' school. Is this a bad time?'
Gibbs glanced around, the team were watching him expectantly, thinking the call was about the case. He motioned to them that it wasn't and left the bullpen.
'No, is something wrong?'
'Not exactly. It's regarding James' behaviour at lunchtime.'
Gibbs' eyebrows shot up.
'We've decided to give him a 'time out' and we are just making a call to let you know. They are in half an hour slots after school for 4th graders and above.'
'So I pick him up at 3.45 rather than 3.15?'
Gibbs was annoyed this woman couldn't get to the real issue. 'So what did he do?'
'Well, the main issue was lying…'
Gibbs hated lying. He sighed once again, and listened to the woman's long-winded account of the story.
Despite himself, and the conversation he would have to have with James later, Gibbs grinned – the kid definitely had character. Only James could get himself into trouble on his first day!