Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 1617
Pairing(s): - No Pairing -
Summary: Ziva had been reading about Christmas in America.
"McGee!" Ziva said, surprised. It wasn't like him to be a clock-watcher, but here he was, clearly anxious to leave, with his topcoat on and a shopping bag spilling out colorfully-wrapped packages on his desk. "Does Gibbs know you're leaving early?"
"Gibbs signed off on it. I'm just waiting to give him a rundown on Lance Corporal Krebs, and then I'm out of here."
"That's right. This is your holiday, yes?" Ziva had been reading about Christmas in America. She could hardly avoid it. In Israel, Christmas had slipped by almost unnoticed, except for the tourist throngs in Bethlehem and the western media poised to capture the smallest whisper of conflict. But she knew it was a big deal here and wondered how her NCIS colleagues approached this "festive" season.
"We would say 'vacation.' But yeah!" His eyes were shining like a little boy's. "One whole week of sleeping in. No midnight phone calls, nobody calling me 'Probie,' and DiNozzo has to carry his own gear for a week. Plus good food, and seeing my family—and presents!"
"This is a big time for you," Ziva said.
"Well, yeah. I haven't been home in six months. "
"You didn't go home last night?"
"Not home. Home. With my family."
"But why do you—" Ziva began.
"McGee, what are you still doing here?" They could hear Gibbs even before he stepped off the elevator. "Told you Tony's got Krebs."
"I just wanted to—"
"Send me an e-mail, McGee. Now get out of here, you make me feel like Scrooge." Gibbs paused for a moment. "And Merry Christmas."
McGee was off like a shot, trailing ribbons in his wake, and Ziva added another tidbit to her store of Christmas knowledge.
"Officer David." Gibbs had come up behind her. "Tomorrow is a national holiday. I expect you to take the day off."
"I have no interest in attending movies, eating Chinese food, or spinning dreidel with my co-religionists," Ziva protested. "And it seems unfair to leave you keeping down the fortress when you are the supervising agent."
"You mean 'holding the fort.'" Tony DiNozzo had just breezed in from the hallway, holding a small plastic-wrapped packet behind his back. "Catch," he hissed at Ziva, tossing it to her.
"DiNozzo!" Gibbs had seen the toss, but missed what was in the package.
"Evidence, Boss. For the…the Krebs case."
Gibbs held out his hand and Ziva silently turned over the package. He peered at it for a second. "Mistletoe, Tony? Where were you planning on hanging it?"
"Well, I was thinking about the doorway of the Director's office…"
Gibbs tossed the mistletoe into his desk drawer. A second later, an oddly-shaped gift-wrapped package followed the mistletoe, and Gibbs closed the drawer with a bang. "Is anyone working today?" he inquired.
"Gibbs! You're not wearing my antlers!" Abby said, coming into the office a few minutes later.
"I never wear your antlers."
"And yet I keep giving them to you." Her usual Goth ensemble had a postmodern elf flavour today -- striped stocking cap, shoes that jingled when she walked, and a red and gold feathered boa. "These are really good ones, too. They've got these little LED Christmas lights that run off a battery pack…"
"You have something else for me besides antlers, Abbs?" Gibbs said mildly. "Like the DNA results from Krebs?"
"Should I have brought Gibbs a gift?" Ziva asked Tony, sotto voce.
"You saw what he did with Abby's, right?" Tony whispered back.
"Yes, I do, O Wise Man." Abby handed Gibbs a sheaf of printouts. "And it seems that the late Lance Corporal Krebs was responsible for Sergeant DeAndrea's formerly immaculate conception."
"And, that's all we need to put her away. Merry Christmas to you, Sergeant…in jail!" DiNozzo growled, earning a giggle from Abby and a blank look from Ziva. "It's a Wonderful Life? Jimmy Stewart? Donna Reed? Bedford Falls? Holiday classic?"
"Yes, whatever," Ziva said. "The sergeant will have a merry Christmas in jail, and you will have a merry Christmas...where, Tony?"
"Why the sudden interest?" Tony asked. "It's not like you'd want to…oh, say...spend the weekend skiing—or something—in the Poconos with me."
"No, I would not. But you must have holiday traditions." She dredged up some tidbits from her reading. "Do you shop for gifts at the last minute, or eat seven fish for dinner, or go to church at midnight?"
"Uh...no. Not since I escaped the bosom of my family." Tony cast a glance at Gibbs. "The only Christmas tradition I can count on is not having the day off."
"But surely you could have the day off if you wanted it. You are senior to McGee," Ziva said, a little perplexed.
"I like taking my vacation in the spring, Ziva. On the beach. Bikinis as far as the eye can see." He sighed reminiscently. "The tales my tube of zinc oxide could tell…"
"Yes, yes, all right, real men vacation at the beach. You've mentioned this before. But what about Gibbs?"
Tony sat upright in his chair. "You're implying Gibbs isn't a real man?"
Ziva motioned him out into the hallway, as Abby, still talking to Gibbs, smirked at them. "I'm used to a strict chain of command. The idea of a supervisor working on a holiday while his agents take the day off..."
"...is the way Jethro prefers it, my dear. Best not to inquire too closely." Dr. Mallard had come up behind them, wheeling a large bakery box on an equipment cart from Autopsy.
Sensing cake, Tony followed him down the hall. "Is that—"
"I'm afraid not. Mother wasn't feeling up to making her usual Buche de Noel this year. But she sends her best wishes. And I trust that this one will be up to your standards." He wheeled the cart into the bullpen. "Ziva, are you familiar with the legend of the Yule log?" Not waiting for an answer, he went straight on. "The ancient Celts burned a log on the shortest day of the year as a symbol of the rebirth of the sun. The Christian church adopted the pagan custom to represent the birth of Christ. As fireplaces were replaced with stoves, the actual log was replaced by a smaller branch that was set on the table and surrounded with sweets. Now, there is some debate as to whether the branch was first replaced with a cake by the bakers of Paris or Lyons, but…"
Silently, Gibbs lifted the cake knife from the top of the cart and placed it in Ducky's hand.
"Ah yes. Very good, Jethro." Ducky opened the box and cut a surgical slice for each of them from a very large chocolate Yule log. He beckoned to the other agents and staff who'd been lurking around the office waiting for his annual offering.
Abby took her plate, plopped down in the chair next to Gibbs's desk, and held out her free hand to him. "Antlers." He handed the package to her, and she motioned Ducky over as she unwrapped it. "Are these the coolest yet, or what?" she asked him.
Tony perched on Ziva's desk, digging into a slice of the Yule log that was twice the size of everyone else's. "Ducky's right, you know. Just let Gibbs be."
"Yes, and what about you? I should let you be, too? This is a bad time for people to be alone, Tony. I've been reading about it…"
"Oh, trust me. I won't be alone," Tony assured her, leering ever so slightly to emphasize his point. "And it's only four hours or so to Camelback. If I wanted to take the time off, I could be in a hot tub surrounded by ski bunnies this time next week."
"I should have known," Ziva said. "Fine. I'm leaving. What is the name of that 'holiday classic,' again? I'll rent it tonight. That will use up two hours of my day off."
"It's a Wonderful Life, but don't bother renting it. One of the local TV stations is showing it three times in a row tomorrow. Just get some popcorn, a big box of Kleenex, and you're all set."
The elevator doors slid closed behind Ziva, and Tony turned back to his cake. As the Yule log shrank, the crowd began to disperse, exchanging greetings as they went their separate ways.
"I'm going to Wong Brothers. You want some?"
Tony rolled his eyes. "Yeah, I'm buying. Be back in an hour or so. Just split up the folders—and don't short me like you did last time."
He shrugged his coat on, then clicked a button on the remote at his desk. Plasma screens all over the bullpen lit up with the image of a cheerfully burning fire in an old-fashioned hearth. A Christmas carol played softly as Gibbs opened up a banker's box labeled "1986: OPEN CASES."
Tony looked around the darkened office as he waited for the elevator. Abby's antlers blinked merrily atop Gibbs's monitor as he settled in to pore over a case file. McGee would be in the air by now; Ducky heading home to puree some plum pudding for his mother, and Abby signing Christmas carols with hers in the chapel at Gallaudet. He didn't want to think too hard about just what Palmer might be up to. Kate's family, back in Indiana, would have an empty place at tomorrow's dinner. And he and Gibbs had their own tradition – working cold cases and trying to get closure for other people's families.
The elevator dinged open and Tony smiled. Another angel just got his wings.