Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 3005
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo, Ziva David
Category(ies): Fluff, Humor
Summary: DiNozzo questions the gifts he's receiving.
Author Notes: I can't believe I'm posting something like this but I'm still WM (without muse) and was hoping I could jump-start my imagination. This is all I could come up with.
Disclaimer: All characters belong to DPB, CBS, Paramount, et al. No copyright infringement is intended.
It’s believed the practice of gift giving goes back to the very beginnings of recorded time and it’s certainly an activity that’s been repeatedly documented through much of human history. From man to woman, from adult to child, from friend to friend, the simple deed of bestowing a present or extending a contribution of some kind to another person has become a part of everyday society norms, accepted by most cultures around the world.
People have always had a myriad of reasons for giving gifts…birthdays, anniversaries, or special holidays to name a few…but, in most instances, the gesture is considered a selfless, voluntary deed which, in theory, does not require anything in return from the recipient. The giver is compelled, through an expression of love or friendship or solidarity, to present some concrete, material token or a more allusive, immeasurable gesture that, hopefully, will leave a lasting impression on the receiver. Gifts are meant to bring joy and happiness or, at the very least, express a measure of sincere gratitude. Regardless of the intentions, the act of giving, itself, usually brings pleasure to everyone involved.
Usually…but not always.
For the fifth time in half as many weeks, Special Agent Tony DiNozzo paused as he approached his personal work station at the edge of the bull pen area within NCIS headquarters, his feet hesitating, almost faltering, in their forward motion. Quickly, his eyes tracked suspiciously across the surface of his assigned drab, metal desk and swiftly located the small, innocuous, plainly wrapped package resting just to the left of his computer monitor. Almost hidden by the sleek, significant piece of technology but blaringly obvious to the agent’s ever-alert eyes, the little parcel was in the exact location the others had been in prior weeks. Its mere presence on his desk immediately sent a spike of uneasy annoyance through DiNozzo’s mind.
‘I don’t believe this shit,’ he shook his head slightly with a measure of pure incredulity and he forced his feet forward, continuing slowly toward his desk and huffing out a quiet, aggravated sigh. ‘Not again.’
In a room with twenty-four hour security cameras monitoring, supposedly, one of the safest locales in the entire building, the presence of another anonymous token on the flat work surface just made the fine hairs on the back of his neck stand up sharply at attention. Whoever was bequeathing these items was one hell of a clever person and they were either being delivered by someone very smart, with very skillful hands or…there just had to be some kind of magic involved in the, so far, undetectable transfer process from hand to desk.
DiNozzo’s mouth twisted briefly into a wry grimace as he thought of an unknown individual performing the undetectable slight-of-hand feat and shook himself quickly back into motion, keenly aware of the early morning activity continuing on around him. He didn’t want to bring any undue attention to himself, in case the perpetrator was watching his approach, so he rounded his desk and cast a nonchalant look down at the partially concealed, insignificant thing peeking out rudely from its semi-hidden location.
Covered with nothing more than a thin, inconsequential layer of white tissue paper and a few pieces of clear tape to hold it all together, the young agent immediately could tell what was contained within the flimsy binding. At this point, he didn’t know why the architect of this nonsense even bothered with the disguise. The shape and size, even the placement, were identical to the other ones he’d received over the past couple of weeks…plus, it was virtually impossible not to read the big, bold lettering on the candy’s wrapper through the almost-translucent skin of the fine tissue.
A Hershey’s bar.
Squinting slightly, DiNozzo noticed a small variation; today’s Hershey’s bar contained *almonds*.
Pressing his lips firmly together and reining his body into complete stillness, the only movement DiNozzo allowed was the slow, controlled slide of his backpack from its customary place over the cap of his left shoulder to the carpeted floor near his feet. He flicked his gaze outward, the cautious, green eyes quickly scanning the surrounding desks, taking in the faces of all those he recognized, and looking for any sign of an obvious lurker. His observations shifted left and then right and then, breaking his enforced stillness, quickly to the rear, even tilting his chin slightly upward to examine the balcony area just outside MTAC and the Director’s office, looking for some indication of a potential perpetrator. Unfortunately, all he observed in the vicinity were a few fellow agents and an odd assortment of staff personnel, all seemingly absorbed in their duties and unaware of his intensely keen, silent perusal.
Swiveling back to face the soundless but sweet intruder by his computer, DiNozzo frowned down at the innocent hunk of barely disguised chocolate and sighed, shaking his head slightly at the ridiculousness of the situation. It was nothing but a harmless, innocuous, simple candy bar, for God’s sake, most likely still preserved in its original, factory-provided wrapper and nothing more than what it was supposed to be: a gift from an admirer. But, for some reason, the appearance of another anonymous gift only left him feeling slightly disturbed instead of suitably delighted, just as the first one had several weeks ago.
Yanking the rolling chair out from under the desk well and moving it slightly away by it’s raised, padded back, DiNozzo paused momentarily before finally sitting down, his eyes still locked apprehensively on the simple gift, almost as if he expected it to suddenly jump up and launch itself at his face. He snorted quietly at the unlikely mental image of the crunchy almonds morphing abruptly into sharp, jagged fangs and silently chided himself for having such an over-active imagination.
‘It’s just a crappy piece of inexpensive chocolate,’ he thought in frustration, trying to alleviate the tinge of apprehension hovering around the fringes of his composure. He huffed out a small sigh and shook his head at his own needless anxiety, reaching hesitantly to prod at the modest-looking package with the tip of one slim finger. ‘It’s February…maybe someone is looking to make an impression.’ He snorted softly at that particular idea. ‘ It’s not even a French Richart or a Swiss Delafee,‘ he chided silently, thinking of all the cash he’d doled out over the past years for premium gifts to potential partners and needy lovers, ‘or even a good, old, reliable New York Godiva. Just a plain, simple Pennsylvania Hershey’s bar…with almonds.’
“It’s not going to bite, you know.”
DiNozzo was barely able to control the startled jerk provoked by the softly spoken words and turned instantly to face the owner of the sometimes-tormenting but persistently teasing voice, immediately recognizing the playful glint in Jethro Gibbs’ clear, blue eyes. The older man was leaning casually on the chest-high divider just behind DiNozzo’s chair, strong forearms braced easily across the sturdy top, and a familiar, covered cup of hot coffee held unconcernedly in one capable hand. He gazed knowingly down into the younger agent’s face and gave a little lopsided smirk. On any other day, at any other time, DiNozzo would be basking in his supervisor’s undivided attention…but not this morning.
“I really wish you’d stop doing that, Gibbs,” DiNozzo hissed with subdued annoyance, swiftly swinging his eyes back to the object in question, absently poking it once more for good measure, “and the funny thing is I was actually thinking it just might do something exactly like that.”
“What? Bite you?” Gibbs asked with an incredulous tone.
The older man’s uneven grin instantly faded as he took in the solemn, down-turned face and he bit back the urge to chide his senior field agent for his foolishness. Instead, Gibbs’ straightened up and moved quickly around the partition so he could hover directly beside DiNozzo’s desk. Hesitant to look away from the bent head, his eyes, nonetheless, tracked slowly to the thinly covered parcel almost concealed by the computer monitor.
“Another Hershey bar?”
DiNozzo nodded slowly at the quiet inquiry and couldn’t contain adding a little dig at his own expense. “With *almonds* this time. Guess I’m worth a few cents more today.”
“Planning on eating this one?” Gibbs asked quietly, ignoring the self-deprecatory tone.
DiNozzo screwed his face into a scowl of revulsion and snorted. “And risk the chance of being poisoned?” He was shook his head and sighed, tilting his head back to offer a cheeky grin. “I don’t think so. My momma didn’t raise a fool.”
Gibbs arched an eyebrow and just smirked. “Abby analyzed all the others for you and didn’t find anything suspicious in any of them. This one won’t be any different.”
“You don‘t know that for sure,” DiNozzo’s grin slipped and he frowned up at the older man. “And this one’s different. It’s got *almonds*, remember?”
“You think someone in the building would go to all this trouble just try to off you with a candy bar?” Gibbs let the censuring tone roll with the words. “Give me a break, DiNozzo.”
The younger man squirmed and looked a bit contrite. “Well, I’ve broke a few hearts along the way, Boss. Who’s to say someone’s not just being devious.” He frowned at the small gift. “You know, trying to kill me with kindness.”
Having had enough of this foolishness, Gibbs grunted once and snatched the offending plank of tissue-wrapped candy from its resting place, tossing it immediately into the nearby trash can, inordinately pleased with the hollow-sounding thud it produced as it hit the bottom. As far as he was concerned, ‘out of sight, out of mind’ was a good enough rule to follow.
“Hey!” DiNozzo gave a half-hearted protest. “That…that was *my* chocolate bar.”
“Stop whining, DiNozzo,” Gibbs shot over one shoulder, already turning away and starting toward his own desk. “You just said you weren’t going to eat it.”
DiNozzo let the fairly lame protest trail off, mutely watching as Gibbs strode over to his work space and sit, the supervising agent’s mind obviously already on the days work. He waited just until the older man was busy leafing through a small stack memos and messages before silently rolling a bit to the right and angling his gaze downward, so he could look at the abruptly discarded gift. There it was, resting flat on the bottom of the receptacle, a lonely, crushed, wad of copy paper its only companion in the metallic void. Flicking a quick glance back toward Gibbs, just to make sure he wasn’t being observed, DiNozzo leaned an elbow on the edge of his desk and stared back down. He regarded the wrapped candy with a mixture of emotions and sighed. On one hand, he was inordinately pleased to have a secret admirer taking the time…if not the money…to send him some small token of appreciation.
But on the other hand…
He’d learned his lessons well over the years and knew that accepting gifts from unknowns could be very costly in the end. Dear old mom and dad had ingrained that particular instruction, right along with ‘don’t talk to strangers’, ‘always stand up straight’, and…his father’s favorite…’don’t make a nuisance of yourself’. Granted, he hadn’t always followed the last edict as closely as the others but DiNozzo never forgot the parental warnings and still found himself hearing those strong, often-censuring, authoritative voices inside his head, sometimes at the most inopportune of times.
Plus, he was getting mighty tired of all the snide remarks being thrown his way from those he worked with, specifically Ziva David and Tim McGee. Abby had contributed once or twice…even Ducky had taken a shot…but his two fellow agents were having a field day at his expense. He was just waiting for Gibbs to finally break down and add to the mix now. He didn’t like being the continued butt of their combined joking, having to sidestep their enquiries and jabs concerning the unidentified ‘gifter’ and, the trouble was, he was absolutely in the dark about who could be doing this.
Blowing out a huff and turning resolutely away from the object of his contemplation, DiNozzo decided to take a cue from Gibbs and just get on with his day. He wasn’t even going to take the effort to check the video this time. Besides, Valentine’s Day was right around the corner and, hopefully, all this would be over. No more wondering if this was just somebody’s idea of a prank, no more feeling like a total idiot for not being able to catch the sneaky culprit, and no more Hershey‘s chocolate bars…with or without almonds.
February fourteenth came and went and, like was predicted, the Hershey’s bars stopped. DiNozzo couldn’t contain the satisfied grin that erupted on his face the first morning afterward, seeing a chocolate-free desk and feeling as though he’d received some last-minute reprieve from a death sentence.
‘Death by chocolate,’ he mused silently, letting his grin spread into a full-fledged smile. In the past, he’d watched several dates consume some monstrous, calorie-laden dessert by that same name but never considered the possibility of that type of demise for himself. ‘Not a bad way to go, I suppose, but not my personal choice of departure modes.’
Slinging his backpack to the floor and nodding brightly toward Ziva David, DiNozzo rolled out his chair and sat, reveling in the sight of a clear desk. No innocuous-looking gifts hiding near the computer and no worries of some devious, stalker-like person making him look like an ass in front of his colleagues.
“You’re in an extremely good mood today,” the young woman observed from her own desk. “Have a good Valentine’s Day?”
“As a matter of fact,” DiNozzo leaned back, fingers laced behind his head, and smirked across the distance, “I didn’t even observe it this year.”
“No?” David inquired, arching an eyebrow. “Don’t you usually use the day as an excuse to get some woman into bed?”
He feigned a wounded look. “I’m hurt, Ziva. I would never do anything like that.”
“Yes, you would,” she deadpanned immediately back.
“Okay, maybe I would,” DiNozzo readily agreed and leaned forward. “but I didn’t this year.”
“Because of all the chocolate bars someone left you?” She pried, her dark eyes looking intensely at her partner.
DiNozzo sat up straight and frowned. “Of course not.” He fumbled with a couple of folders, searching unsuccessfully for a pencil, and then reached to open his top drawer. “I just decided…”
David waited for DiNozzo to complete his sentence but, when nothing else was forthcoming, she urged him on. “You just decided what?”
DiNozzo wasn’t paying the woman any attention, his complete awareness now focused solely on the contents of his top drawer. Pulling the shallow tray out as far as he could, he could only stare in horror at the contents.
No pencils, no note pads, no small boxes of standard sized paper clips were found inside. Instead, the drawer was packed jammed with individually wrapped Hershey’s Kisses, their shiny silver wrappings as bright as newly minted dimes. DiNozzo could only gape in silent bewilderment at the spectacle.
“What is it?” David prompted.
DiNozzo swallowed and hesitantly opened the top drawer of a pair running down the right side of the desk, afraid of what he’d find contained within. Sure enough, just as he expected, this drawer, too, was filled to the brim with the individual chocolate bites. There were hundreds, maybe thousands, filling the corners and occupying every space and the sight almost took DiNozzo’s breath away. The feeling was akin to a sucker punch to the gut…delivered by a velvet glove. With cautious fingers, he eased the drawer partially back in and reached for the bottom one…the one that usually housed his magazines and toiletries and the medals and awards he was keeping for Gibbs…and it, too, was filled almost to overflowing.
Dropping his forehead to the surface of his desk with a resounding ‘thunk’ and covering the nape of his neck with both hands, DiNozzo moaned softly. “That’s it…I give up.”
Watching the show unfold from the comfort of her own desk, David fought hard to hold back her amusement, keeping her smile and laughter at bay. It wouldn’t do to let the man know she was well aware of the contents of his desk…and of who was responsible for this latest gift. Letting her gaze rise slowly toward the person leaning casually on the railing overlooking the bullpen directly behind DiNozzo, she tipped her head at the lone figure and silently saluted his accomplishment.
Blue eyes twinkling in devilment, Gibbs unwrapped the single Hershey’s Kiss in his hand, popped it smartly into his mouth, and turned away from the scene below, heading toward MTAC. DiNozzo’s response to his prank had been exactly what he’d expected and, if he knew the younger man like he thought he did, this latest gift would put him in just the right frame of mind for what he was going to find when he went home later tonight. Gibbs smirked as the sweet chocolate melted within the warmth of his mouth because, once DiNozzo got over his initial shock of being bombarded with chocolate kisses, he‘d come looking for the real thing…
…and that was one gift they both could appreciate.