That Which Is Not Jolly
A/N: I had the violent urge to write a Christmas fic. The results of my attempt last year in the Andromeda fandom were banished far back on my hard drive, so I decided NCIS would be a safer fandom. This was the results.
Summary: McGee makes a valiant effort to find cheer.
As Tim McGee entered the NCIS HQ building on the morning of December 20, he was almost bowled over by a large green tree that was rushing down the hall full force, bouncing along most likely on its way to the break room. He squished himself against the wall until the tree had passed and the two individuals behind the foliage were revealed.
"Good morning, Madam Director," he said in surprise, the abhorrent nickname coming out before he could think to correct himself.
"Good morning, Agent McGee," she nodded back.
"Hia, Tim," Cassandra, the front receptionist grinned cheerily out from behind a branch at him, a bright red Santa hat perched precariously on top of her blond curls.
"Hi," he answered, still a little dumbstruck by the sight of the director and a receptionist heaving one of the biggest evergreens he had ever seen down the hall of the NCIS building seemingly without a care in the world.
"We felt that everyone could use a dose of the Christmas spirit," the director explained as the two women set the tree down to take a breather. McGee wondered just how far they'd had to drag the monstrosity already, and winced. The tree was certainly no lightweight, and he didn't envy anyone cursed with the job of hauling it around.
"That's, um, a very nice tree," he said feebly, not entirely sure what would be an appropriate adjective for the tree.
"We thought so," Cassandra nodded eagerly. "Aunty Jen and I spent all morning out at a tree farm picking it out."
He noted the director's wince at the casual way Cassandra tossed out the familial reference, and he had to admit that he would never have guessed that the two women were related. Briskly, the director wrapped her arms around part of the trunk, and Cassandra, taking the hint, did the same.
"Tell Agent Gibbs I need the reports on your last case on my desk by noon," the director told McGee before they continued on down the hall with the tree in tow.
McGee made it all the way up to the bullpen without a single gaily dressed individual stopping him, and by the time he was seated in his desk he was merrily humming 'Jingle bells' to himself as he booted up his computer. Tony glared at him from across the isle.
"Christmas isn't for a whole four days yet, Probie. Could ya possibly save the carols until absolutely necessary?"
"Don't you like Christmas, Tony?" McGee questioned, turning his chair so that he faced the older man.
"Not particularly, no. I normally end up spending it getting drunk in front of my TV."
"Don't you have a family to spend the holidays with?" McGee asked.
Tony shook his head. "Haven't you been listening to any of my rants over the last two years, Probie? My dear old dad disowned me when I was still a teen, and took the rest of the family along with him."
"OH," McGee fell silent.
"If I still had a family, I'd be somewhere off in the Caribbean right now on a beach getting warm oil rubbed into my skin by scantily clad women."
"I take it you had money? I mean, you're family has money?"
Tony nodded. "Yep. Loaded. I got a fair chunk before they decided I wasn't perfect enough for them, but nowhere near what I could have."
McGee glanced over at Ziva where she was idly flicking through something on her computer. Something which, he realized, looked suspiciously like a list of all the games Tony had on his system. "Do you like Christmas, Ziva?" McGee asked.
Tony was giving him a look of impending doom, but McGee figured it was just because he had foregone more of Tony's complaints to talk to Ziva. She looked up at him and rolled her eyes.
"I don't celebrate Christmas, McGee. I'm Jewish."
McGee felt his cheeks burn bright red, and stared fixedly at his shoes. "Oh. Um, right. I knew that. Sorry…"
She turned back to her screen, and promptly choked on her coffee as she read the next line of text. Tony glanced over at her, but she was too engrossed in reading the screen in front of her. He walked over, peering over her shoulder.
"Hey!" he shouted, making a swipe for the mouse to try and get her out of his account. She was laughing hysterically as Tony continued to fight with her over the mouse and keyboard. Just another day.
McGee was about to go find Abby, when she appeared out of the elevator, looking to be in a viciously bad mood.
"Hi, Abby," he called over to her. She spun, pigtails swinging, and came over to sit on his desk. "Isn't this disgusting?" she asked irritably.
"What?" he was thrown off guard by her angry tone.
"All the Christmas stuff! People are wasting their money buying all of these cards, and gifts and God knows what else for each other because the stores and the media tell them that's what they're supposed to do. Did you know, McGee, that Jesus couldn't have been born on Christmas? Someone just decided it was more festive to stick it in the middle of winter, and the world went along with it. If you really want to make a difference, donate to a charity. Or better yet, donate to charities all year, instead of waiting for the media to tell you when to do so."
He had backed his chair away while she spoke, and was now staring at her, a little scared. "Um—"
But she was distracted by something, bouncing off his desk and darting over toward the elevator. "Gibbs!" she called, catching him as he arrived out of the elevator car. The two fell into conversation, and McGee deemed it safe to return to his desk.
"Before you ask, Probie," Tony tapped him on the shoulder, "Gibbs doesn't like Christmas, either. I think Ducky said something about his first wife leaving him Christmas Eve."
McGee winced in sympathy, but Tony's words had given him an idea. He jumped up, saw that Gibbs was sufficiently distracted as Abby hung over his shoulder, playing with his computer, and made a dash for the elevator.
When he reached autopsy, he was delighted to hear the sound of Christmas carols pouring forth from a small stereo on a shelf by the door. The ME looked up when he entered, and smiled warmly at him.
"Good morning, Timothy!" he said, setting aside the file he had been perusing before McGee's arrival.
"Hi, Ducky," McGee answered, coming a bit farther into the room.
"What brings you down here this early? Not a new case already, surely?"
"Oh, no. Nothing like that. I was—Well, that is, no one upstairs seems to like Christmas. I was just trying to find someone that does." He felt his face flush for the second time that morning, and cursed silently.
The ME's face lit up, and he waved McGee to a chair. "Of course! I'm quite a fan of the holidays. Of course, none of the others share my enthusiasm, though I do ensure that Jethro and Abigail come spend Christmas with my mother and I every year. Caitlyn, rest her soul, loved the holidays to death. I'm sure you remember how excited she was to see her family last year."
"She put mistletoe above the lab doors," McGee recalled, thinking back on Gibbs' and Abby's stunned stares when he and Kate had eagerly awaited there kiss. He hadn't been close enough to the team back then to really have noticed how violently they disliked Christmas, and he figured he was paying with his ignorance by receiving a double-helping this year.
"Indeed. I heard quite a bit about that little mishap," Ducky reminisced fondly.
"I don't think I've ever seen them so embarrassed," McGee agreed, grinning.
"So, what are your plans for the holidays?" the Doctor asked.
"Well, my sister's coming down from Canada, and my Aunt and Uncle from California are coming. My parents and brother live here, so we're all getting together to have a big dinner at my parents' house on Christmas day."
"That sounds wonderful," Ducky nodded.
"The director brought in a Christmas tree."
Ducky laughed, throwing up his hands. "I'm sure that positively made Jethro's morning," he said dryly. "I wouldn't be surprised if he and Abigail were conspiring at this very moment to burn it."
"I don't think they've seen yet," McGee admitted, grinning. A comfortable silence permeated the morgue as Ducky moved a few stacks of paper to their proper shelves, and adjusted a garland hanging from his office doorway. Finally, McGee asked "How can you hate Christmas?"
Ducky looked back at him quietly for a moment, before setting down the box he had been moving.
"Each of them has their own reasons, my boy. Anthony spent all of his Christmas's as a child being shown off to his parents' friends as their perfect child, more a statue than a little boy. Abigail's family was very religious, and though she still harbors her belief in God, she has become very bitter about the entire presentation of Christianity by the media and the government. And rightly so, I might add. As for Gibbs, well, that man has so many layers that it took me ten years just to get through all of them. I'm afraid I can't explain the inner workings of Gibbs in one morning."
McGee sighed, still feeling unsatisfied. Just then the door opened, and Ziva poked her head in.
"You're both aware that there's a Christmas tree in the break room?"
"Yeah," McGee nodded. She looked back over her shoulder, and then hurriedly darted into the morgue.
"I take it Gibbs has gotten into a bit of a spat with our dear director?" Ducky asked. Ziva shrugged, moving to lean against the back of McGee's chair.
"There were flying paper weights."
McGee winced. "Ouch."
"I think Abby's trying to recruit me to the 'kill the director and hide the body' club," Ziva replied.
Ducky smiled. "Now, the real question is if you're in here hiding, or in here trying to recruit us, as well."
From outside the doors came the sound of pounding feet, and the words "I'll tell you where you can shove your antlers!" in Abby's husky shout.
Ziva shrank a little farther. "Recruiting," she said quickly. Both men laughed as the doors flew open, allowing a flushed and tinsel covered labrat to arrive in a gust of cinnamon scented air.
"Okay, so, I'm thinking a nice dose of cyanide in her coffee," Abby started speaking before the doors had fully closed behind her.
"Too easy to trace," Ziva replied immediately.
"Damnit. What if somebody shoved her out a window? I could disable the security cameras no problem," Abby bounced.
The doors again glided open, allowing Gibbs to stalk into the room. "Are we all playing doctor now?" he asked sharply. Ziva and McGee cowered, while Abby just continued to ponder.
"Jethro, are you bringing the cranberries on Saturday?" Ducky asked without missing a beat.
Abby glanced over at him. "I'll bring them, Ducky. Gibbs' freezer is empty of all but ice cubes. Besides, he's bringing the cookies."
"I am not—"Gibbs began, but Ducky cut him off.
"Wonderful! I didn't know you baked, Jethro."
McGee blinked rapidly, feeling his head begin to come dangerously close to floating away. "Uh… I thought you hated Christmas?"
"We do," Abby replied. "But Ducky lets us spend the night at his house and eat his food, so who are we to refuse?"
McGee just nodded, still not entirely comprehending. "Okay then."
Ziva was quietly making her way to the doors, when Ducky spoke up. "You should spend the weekend with us, Ziva."
She froze, as if caught in a horrible crime. "I don't celebrate—"
"Yes yes, I know, however what we do isn't so much a Christmas celebration, as a holiday one. If I'm not mistaken, you have no family here with whom you would be spending any time over Hanukkah, and one should always be amongst friends over the holidays."
"I—"Ziva began, but just then Tony cleared his throat from his position in the door.
"Do you guys think you could skip ahead to the group hug? We just got a case, and let me tell you, being the only one left up there to deal with the director's wrath was not fun."
Gibbs nodded shortly, plucking the case file from the younger agent and signaling for McGee, Ziva and Tony to follow after him as he left the room. McGee trailed behind long enough to hear Ziva quietly accepting Ducky's offer, and Abby's next suggestion in the matter of how best to kill the director before Tony called him ahead to catch the elevator. Just another day.