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Music and Memories
by: ksl (Send Feedback)
Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 1201
Character(s): Tony DiNozzo
Category(ies): Episode Related
Pairing(s): - No Pairing -
Episode(s): 3-20 Untouchable
Summary: This little story was inspired by a line in the episode 'Untouchable'. It is just a little introspective piece with Tony at home on a Sunday.
I wasn’t quite sure how to take Ziva’s offer to give me piano lessons, so I just ignored it at the time and stayed focused on the case. I was torn between amusement and annoyance thinking back over her offer. I mean…what did she think she could teach me that nearly thirteen years of private lessons and better than twenty years of diligent practice hadn’t already taught me?
In her defense, she didn’t know any of that. All I’d told her was that I used to take lessons and that I hadn’t played in years. It was likely a natural assumption to think I was out of practice or had been a poor student. Telling her that Mrs. Morgan whacked my knuckles with a ruler every time I hit a wrong note must have sounded like I didn’t particularly care for taking lessons or wasn’t very good, despite of my telling her otherwise.
What I should have told her was that I play every day I can; I just hadn’t played for an audience in years. Not since college. Course that was all moot. It wasn’t like Ziva would really believe I was any good, so what was the point of telling her any more than I already had? Her offer to give me lessons made it pretty clear she thought she had more skill and talent than I do even though she’s never heard me play. But then, she pretty much thinks that about everything, so I’m not overly worried about it.
I sit down at the piano, carefully raising the cover over the keys. The piano really is too big for my place but I couldn’t leave it in storage. It wouldn’t be right to leave an old friend locked up like that.
I don’t usually play much during the week. There just isn’t much time to do more than run through a few scales and arpeggios, so I save serious playing for the weekend. Yesterday’s case sucked up my Saturday and I was too tired when I got home last night to even consider playing. I missed having the chance to ‘commune with the keyboard’ as Mrs. Morgan used to call it.
I caress the keys, moving through a series of scale exercises I could to in my sleep. Mrs. Morgan was always adamant that one do a proper warm up, and be intimately familiar with every scale and variation thereof. She didn’t just expect excellence, she demanded it.
That was the reason for the knuckle whacks. She knew I could do better and wouldn’t settle for less than my best. Kind of like Gibbs in that respect. Might be why I’ve stayed at NCIS as long as I have. He is the only one who ever demanded as much from me as Mrs. Morgan ever did.
I start another series of scale exercises with just my right hand. Even though I’m right handed, for some reason the left was stronger and more fluid when I first learned to play. Mrs. Morgan was just as picky about balance as she was everything else. So she made me isolate each hand and force them to be equally deft and graceful. No one else would notice now that I ever favored either hand.
Mrs. Morgan was the only one I ever really played for, truth be told. Oh sure, there were other people who heard me play, but hers was the only one whose opinion mattered to me. She was the only one who ever gave a damn about me developing my musical talent and reaching my potential.
Hell, my parents never came to a single recital. Never spent a minute listening to me play. My stepmother donated the baby grand in the house to a charity auction the day I left for Ohio. If it weren’t for Mrs. Morgan giving me hers when she moved into an old folks home ten years ago, I wouldn’t even have an instrument to play.
Her piano is actually far better quality than the one my parents had. It is older, more… seasoned maybe. Not really sure. Maybe it’s the real ivory. Or the type of wood. Or just the years of familiarity I have with it. I love the sound quality and feel of it.
What I do know for sure is that Mrs. Morgan thought enough of me that I was the student she deemed worthy of her baby. So even though I don’t play for other people, I still play. Mrs. Morgan would be horribly disappointed in me if I didn’t. I don’t want her to regret giving me her piano. It’s bad enough in her eyes that I didn’t go to college to study music.
Most would be surprised to know a sports scholarship hadn’t been my first choice. The judges thought I had passion and talent, but just not enough to warrant a scholarship in music. It stung at the time, but I gradually came to realize I prefer to have music as my hobby, and not my profession.
At the keyboard I can work through the shit of the week. I can just let it all out. Anger and fear, frustration and amusement, joy and sorrow just flow like water. Not sure it would work so well if I had to play for other people rather than just for me.
I move on to left hand scales. I close my eyes. I can almost hear Mrs. Morgan saying, ‘Balance, Anthony, Balance is crucial.’
I smile. Without really thinking about it I play what was one of her favorite pieces. Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’.
I used to tape myself playing every Sunday and send it to her on Monday at the home. She’d send back critiques…and occasional compliments. She’s been dead four years now, and I still miss her.
I let myself go with the music. The slow, melodic quality is soothing. I can almost see it filling up the room, seeking out the morning shadows to fill with light. I relax a little more as I play, focusing more and more on the notes and phrases than on my job, friends, coworkers...just shove all that crap to the back of my mind for a little while.
I flinch when the sharp trill of my cell rudely breaks through the net of serene contemplation I’d been trying to weave. I sigh, letting the chord resolve before I pick up my phone, not wanting to end the music on a jarring note. A quick glance at the caller ID tells me all I really need to know. Gibbs.
“We’ve got a body.”
So much for Sunday. I sigh silently. “Be there in ten.”
I cut the connection taking a bit of petty satisfaction in being the one to cut him off for a change. I let the cover come gently down over the keys. I pat the piano softly. “I’ll finish it when I get back, Mrs. Morgan. Promise.”
MTAC - NCIS Fic