Natalie Morales had been working with him for four months; she had his file and had read about his relationship between him and his ex-partner and what had happened to him while saving his children and settling into his new role as a father, but something bugged her.
He skirted around big issues in his life, he responded with sarcasm or a joke when something got too personal.
As well as helping him she had a few other case loads as well, moving another file aside, Natalie sighed as she brushed her long hair back and tied it into a ponytail.
She just didn't get it.
Maybe because he was a man…maybe that was it.
She had read his file; the mother of his children was an abusive person. There were numerous notes in his file about her behavior towards the agent. Back when he had been Agent DiNozzo, Ziva David had been nasty, dismissive of him, and had on more than one occasion attacked him.
He was a federal Agent, Why?
Why would he fall for a woman like that and have children with her?
She had thrown him to the ground in Tel Aviv and attacked him, re-injuring a shoulder that was in the midst of healing, she had called him dead weight and had even gone so far as to suggest he was that awful to talk to that she needed a shower just because she talked to him.
Why would he sleep with her?
It was just like saying that it was like blaming a woman for what she is wearing when she is assaulted and that is wrong….What was he thinking?
She grabbed her notepad and took a seat behind her desk, this was so wrong, those two ever having a relationship was just wrong. She decided since they had already had five sessions and he had skirted around the big issues, today she was going to ask him.
Tony knocked on the door wearing his now usual jeans and sweatshirt.
"Mr. Macaluso, come on in," she said.
"I did say to call me Tony, Ms Morales." He smiled as he came in and took a seat.
"Tony... I have been looking over your file, we have discussed your children and your new relationship with them. I…I have a question….Why?" she said before she could stop herself.
"Why what?" Tony asked confused.
"I have read your file, you and Agent David…." She noticed the small flinch as she mentioned the name. "After all she had said to you, done to you in the past. Why would you pursue a relationship with the woman?" She asked.
Tony looked down at his worn trainers, it wasn't something he really liked talking about so he sighed and sat up straighter.
"How much do you know of my past?" he asked quietly.
"We don't have extensive files, only the things since you joined the Agency." She said.
Tony took a swig from a glass of water on the desk in front of him.
"Do you see a lot of child abuse cases?" he asked still skirting around the subject.
"A few, why?"
"Why?" she asked, not seeing the relevance.
"There are different types of abuse you know,"
"I know that…." She snapped harsher than she meant to, "I do know that," she said softer this time.
"I was emotionally abused from the age of 8; with the odd bit of Physical abuse thrown in for good measure, by the man I thought until recently was my father." Tony blinked getting his courage up and continued.
"I had an ok life till I was five, then my nanny was found to be having an affair with my father, she was fired and my mother was left to bring me up, she didn't want anything to do with me…I didn't know why at the time, I now know it is because I reminded her of my real father, she would dress me and feed me but mostly left me to watch movies and entertain myself, for me those were the good old days." Tony took another drink and blinked the tears that threatened to fall as he found himself poking in his head at the box he had kept shut up tight.
"When I was eight my mother died, Senior didn't want to raise another man's child so he didn't."
"Who raised you then?" Natalie asked her voice concerned.
"No one, I knew where the food was and stole what I needed, I had clothes and I had a room….well, not exactly a room…."
"What was it…exactly?"
"A closet, Senior, when he was drunk, would come looking for me, I didn't want to be around when he wanted me and he didn't want me around when I wanted him. There was a closet in the basement, I found a mattress and a blanket and I spent all my time there, it had a light, it was warm and more importantly…the door locked."
She sat shocked.
"All I ever wanted was for him to hold me, to pay attention to me, to tell me he loved me, to just look at me!" Tony got up and walked to the window looking out on the gardens below where his children were looking at the flowers with Gibbs watching them and smiling. Taking strength from this he continued.
"When I met Ziva, I was in a bad place, Kate had just died. I loved her…I think I did, I was distraught she had died, I mean HELL! I was wearing her brains for an hour!" he paced again getting his emotions under control
"Sorry," He sat back in the chair again, "Kate was the only one I had told about my past, she would listen to me, she was the one who…." He stopped and looked at her cocking his head slightly to the right.
"Do you know that if you are abused all your life, you think it's normal…I thought my childhood was normal until she told me…I had been neglected and it was abuse, I thought everyone was raised like that." He laughed, "It ain't abuse until they tell ya it is, right doc?"
She sighed; this was slowly making more sense, Tony Macaluso was just nuts…right?
"Surely you knew the way your parents treated you wasn't right, what about friends at school?"
"I always wanted some of those…" Tony said wistfully, "First day in I was told only to talk to the teacher, no one else or I would be beaten when I got home, so I did…Kids at school thought I was being too high and mighty because my father was rich… I was bullied from that day on, people tripping me up, taking my glasses and treading on them, stealing and tearing my books on the rare occasion I had lunch they spat in it…I used to eat around it rather than go hungry and they'd hit me more."
"After Gibbs told Kate to look beyond what I showed to the world and she got to know the real me, we were best friends, she was my first friend after Abby."
"Abby is everyone's friend." Natalie remarked about the bubbly Goth who was loved by the whole building.
Tony smiled, "Yeah…Anyway I, like the rest of the team, were in a dark place after Kate's …..After Kate. Then Ziva came along, I went back to established, safe patterns, I thought she was pretty, but that was it…I didn't even think she was my type until she started…"
"She gave me snide remarks, saying all those things you said….the things she had said about me…that is, was my safe spot, she knew…I don't know how but she knew about all the abuse, she knew that for me abuse was safe, it was what I knew…" Tony looked sad and ashamed, Natalie waited for him to go on.
"I asked for it…."
"Tony when women are abused, they don't go out with their attackers?" she said
Tony laughed sourly, "How many times have you been raped?" he asked flatly.
"Never!" she exclaimed shocked at his question.
"I was fourteen," Tony began his voice barely audible, "A friend of Senior's, he showed an interest in me, told me I was handsome and he would be proud to have me in his family…that's all I ever wanted a family to love me, to want me…I thought this was love I didn't know, I didn't want him to touch me like he did, but he kept telling me it was alright, and this was ok and I cried the whole way through…he took me home afterwards and talked to Senior about business. All I wanted to do was wash his smell off me…I felt dirty…I nearly died the next morning when Senior went to find me, he…he made me breakfast and told me it was good I was spending time with him…he said he'd be pleased if I went back to his house that morning and spend time with him…I didn't want to I threw up my breakfast, but Senior insisted. So the next day I went back…it was that or get beaten. I don't think Senior knew or cared what he had done to me, just that it would be good for business to keep him happy."
Natalie looked stricken.
"You know the real reason I went back, the reason I didn't run away or get the police or any of that?" Tony asked.
Natalie shook her head.
"I was told so many times I was useless or pathetic a waste of space, He told me I was important, what we had was important, that he loved me…I had never been told that…and that I was special, I wanted that…I hated what was happening, but my…Senior approved me being there so I figured it was normal, that I was the one who was wrong, I believed it, it wasn't until I started training to be a cop I found out it was wrong…but it is ingrained behavior for me, now, I am trained that way."
Tony sighed, "I never loved her…She was strong, she was there and she said the right things…just like all the others, I am trying slowly to stop this…I know I won't date again…not at least until I am in a better place mentally and my children are grown. Funny thing is until I met them, I didn't realize that I never loved Ziva. It was fear, a fear of being rejected yet again by someone who was my peer. I needed her to say she loved me…I just needed to be…loved…God!" Tony got up again and paced the room, "I'm like an abused fucking puppy, you know the one who gets the beating and still goes back to its master hoping to be stroked."
"I know it was all an act with her now, I know what she was, what she is….I love my children though, without her they wouldn't be here. But I think now, I'm getting to a better space, I know now, what we had…what she did to me was wrong, how I reacted was wrong. I just need to keep telling myself that and not fall back into established patterns."
Natalie looked at him, "You talk like a therapist sometimes." She remarked.
Tony gave a lopsided grin, "Seen a few in my time." He admitted.
"Doesn't mean that I can't make mistakes… when the chips are down, even now I will head towards an abusive relationship as a safety net, and it's what I know…I would never hurt a woman, but I still sometimes feel like I deserve all that has happened to me…I know I do." Tony said absently looking out the window at his twins again.
"I want to try to stop that behavior, for them, they need to know a better way…I just wish, no offence doc, that all my therapists hadn't been brought up in happy bubble unicorn land and had just for a second…" Tony trailed off.
"Tell me," she prompted.
"I wish for a second you could see my side of the glass, I wish you could for a second flash through my life and see what it's really like, how screwed up I am, I was…I am getting better, I am worth it…I am loved." Tony said more to himself than her.
"I made a mistake…I read your file and I assumed…" Natalie started.
Tony turned back to her with his 1000 watt grin plastered on his face, "Gibbs has a rule against that." He got up and shot a sad smile in her direction, "Time's up right Doc…see ya next week" He said and left.