Children of the Night
AU TIVA meeting in a different time and place. May challenge.
Chapter 1 – The Ambassadors' Ball – January 1989
Ten year old Ziv David tugged at his shirt collar for the millionth time that evening. Why he had to dress in this monkey suit and act like a 'proper gentleman' was beyond his patience. So what if his father was the Israeli Ambassador to France? He would much rather be at their new home, watching television, than sitting at a stuffed-shirt dinner with all of these adults pretending to be important.
He tugged at his shirt again; and that's when he noticed her; a raven-haired beauty sitting quietly at the other end of the row of chairs designated for the children of the dignitaries.
Eight-year-old Antonia DiNozzo shifted in her chair yet again. She watched her mother glide with ease though the men in their tuxedos and the women in their ball gowns. She herself was dressed to the nines in a designer gown tailored specifically for her; she'd even had a choice in the color and fabric this time. Mother had insisted that she learn to tell the fine fabrics for the elegant wear apart and know the characteristics of each one and suitable uses. "As the daughter of the United States Ambassador to France, you must learn to be a proper lady." How she hated those words every time they left the mouths of her parents.
She adjusted her emerald green gown - the green chosen to accent her emerald green eyes – and that's when she noticed him. His olive-toned skin and dark brown eyes spoke of exotic lands. He, too, looked about as thrilled as she was to be relegated to the children's section.
Their glances met briefly as they first noticed the other; each quickly looked away, pretending to be interested in the sea of adults on the ballroom floor. Each stole a glance at the other as often as possible while trying not to be caught looking by the other.
As he was stealing another look in her direction, his father appeared from seemingly out of the blue. "Ziv, straighten your tie and fix your jacket. You must look presentable when I introduce our family to the others. Stand up straight, boy; be proud you are an Israeli. Mind your manners and remember to shake hands with the men when you are introduced to them. Let the others dictate how you react with the women."
"Yes, sir," Ziv reluctantly followed the elder David onto the guest-filled ballroom floor. He tried to catch a last glimpse of the girl, but a woman in an overly gaudy dress blocked his view. Perhaps he would see the girl again before the night was over.
"Antonia, dear," her mother stepped into her view. "Come along, your father is introducing our family."
"Yes, Mother," she sighed and glanced at the other end of the row of chairs; the boy had disappeared. Perhaps, if she were lucky, she would catch another glimpse of him before the evening ended.
Each ambassador was queued behind the stage with his or her family as the crowd settled down at the tables set up for the dinner. An emcee took the stage and greeted everyone. Then he started introducing the ambassadors. As each ambassador came to the mic, he or she introduced any family and significant staff members present.
"The Ambassador from Israel, Eli David," the emcee called out. Ziv straightened up and watched his father strut across the stage. When had Abba become so full of himself? Of course, the boy hardly had time with his father since his mother had passed away a little over two years ago. A series of nannies had seen to his care for the majority of the time since his Ima had first been hospitalized with the cancer that eventually took her life.
"Thank you, Mister Chignon. Ladies and gentlemen, it is an honor to be among this group tonight. While I have been in my post for the past three months, this is the first time I've been at one of these balls," Eli droned on about how he enjoyed being the ambassador. Ziv tuned him out until he heard his own name.
"I have the honor to present my son, Ziv David," Eli glanced in the direction of the boy as Ziv stepped out onto the stage. He walked over to his Abba and stood by his side as the group politely applauded. As the applause subsided, the emcee guided Eli towards the other already introduced ambassadors and their families standing to the side of the stage. Ziv followed his father and stood silently, watching the emcee.
"The Ambassador from the United States of America, Anthony DiNozzo," the emcee waited for the man to approach the mic. Ziv barely half paid attention to yet another stuffed shirt.
"And now I have the pleasure to introduce my family," Ambassador DiNozzo grinned as he presented his wife. "Marian DiNozzo, my better half," he waited for her to come to his side before his next introduction. "Antonia DiNozzo, my daughter," he beamed at the raven-haired girl as she carefully walked across the stage.
Ziv was suddenly at full attention; Antonia DiNozzo… he would remember that name for sure. He recited it in his mind several times as she moved to her parents. Ziv only had eyes for her; she drew his attention like a magnet. He barely registered that the ambassador was speaking again.
"I have another daughter, but she is too young to be here tonight; Natalia DiNozzo is only four years old."
The emcee took the mic again and the DiNozzo family moved to the line of dignitaries; suddenly Antonia was standing alongside Ziv. He felt her presence even when he tried not to look at her. She turned to him and smiled; his insides nearly melted. He grinned back at her.
"Hi," she whispered. "I'm Antonia."
"Ziv," he whispered back to her. "Pleased to meet you."
Guests filed by the receiving line, wanting to see and be seen by the dignitaries. Ziv and Antonia shook as many hands as their respective parents and chatted when they could. Finally, the seemingly endless line of humans came to an end and the children were directed to a back room where nannies and caretakers were waiting to shuffle them out of the spotlight and back to waiting homes. Ziv and Antonia walked together as each looked for the waiting nanny.
Ziv spotted Miss Emilie talking to another young woman at the same time Antonia spotted Miss Rosalie with another nanny. The two children smiled when they realized their nannies were friends.
Ziv was handed a garment bag and duffel by his nanny. "Change into your jeans and shirt for the walk home," she directed him towards a men's room. "Remember to hang your jacket on the hanger please."
'Yes, ma'am," he slipped into the restroom to change into his usual attire. He was very glad to shed the tux and dress shoes for his jeans, polo shirt, and sneakers. He zipped the tux jacket and pants into the garment bag and placed his shoes, tie, and folded shirt in the duffel.
"Ready to go, Miss Emilie," he announced as he exited the restroom. "Are we walking through the park?
"Yes, Master Ziv; and my friend and her young charge are going with us, so that we can visit some."
Ziv smiled to himself; he would get to see Antonia more.
Meanwhile, Antonia followed her nanny into a ladies' room to change out of her gown. She wiggled out of the dress and quickly donned her favorite cargo pants and t-shirt, along with sneakers. Rosalie hung the gown on a hanger and zipped the garment bag around the dress to protect it. She watched Antonia pull the rhinestone-studded barrettes from her hair. The unruly curls fell free as the girl shook her head from side to side and laughed.
"Miss Antonia, do not let your mother hear you; you know she prefers that you wear your hair clips over letting it free," Rosalie scolded.
"Yes, ma'am. Are we walking through the park on the way home?"
"If you would like. I want to visit with my friend a bit more, so I think she will bring her young charge as well. The boy you were chatting with on the way out of the ballroom," the nanny explained.
"Ziv; I like him," Antonia grinned at the woman. "Let's go!"
The two exited the ladies' room to find Emilie and Ziv waiting for them. Each nanny handed the bags containing the children's formalwear to the family driver to put in the respective limos to be taken back to living quarters later that night. The two women and the two children exited into the cool night air.
Antonia took in a deep breath, "Ah, fresh air! So much better than inside with all those people. I don't know why the adults feel a need to have huge parties all the time. They are boring and stuffy."
"Do they do this often?" Ziv questioned her. "I have only been here about a month. Abba has been here for three months, but I had to finish the school term before I could join him."
"About every other month, or so," she replied. "Always the same; parade the families; send the children home and then the adults have dinner. One time, I got to stay for the meal. The food was gross; I would have much rather gone home and had spaghetti."
The two women sat in a small gazebo and chatted while the children headed to a larger gazebo to explore. Ziv climbed on the nearest bench in the octagonal gazebo. He began walking along the benches that lined the perimeter of the structure. Antonia followed him around as they shared information.
"I am an only child," Ziv shared. "I am ten years old, in case you were wondering. Ima died when I was eight; she had cancer." He jumped across the opening to the next bench.
"I am eight years old, and I have a sister who is four," Antonia jumped across the opening behind him. "Daddy is always travelling or busy. Mother has a busy social calendar. What is it like to live in Israel?"
Ziv stopped moving and turned to face his companion, "It is very different from Paris. In Haifa, where Ima's family lives, there are nice beaches. In Tel Aviv, it is a big city like Paris, but much warmer temperatures. What is America like?"
"I don't remember much; we lived in New York before we came to Paris. We moved when I was almost five and Natalia was a baby. We haven't been back since Daddy was made Ambassador," she replied. "Do you like school? I like to learn, but not necessarily at school. Sometimes school is boring. I know five languages and want to learn more. What languages do you know?"
"Hebrew, English, and French," he answered. "What languages do you know?"
"English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian. Will you teach me Hebrew?" she looked into his eyes as she asked. His dark chocolate brown eyes drew her in; she could see his soul within them.
He maintained the eye contact with her emerald green orbs. Her eyes spoke of an old soul, wise beyond her years. They drew him in and held him fascinated. "Yes, I will teach you Hebrew."
"Good," she broke the eye contact and shimmied up one of the poles supporting the roof of the gazebo. He followed her up onto the roof of the gazebo. She turned as if to show off and found him right behind her. "Oh; I guess you like to climb stuff too. You can see a lot from up here." She gestured out over the city as she spoke. The two sat down on the roof and looked out over Paris.
"It is quiet up here," he noted. "I bet if we laid back we could see the stars." Both children stretched out on the roof and gazed upward. He pointed out constellations to her, inching as close as he dared. There was something about her that spoke to his soul. He would definitely be seeing more of her in the future.