Disclaimer: I own nothing, even my CR-V is leased. I mean no disrespect to DPB, Michael Weatherly, Mark Harmon, CBS, Charles Dickens, Santa Claus, any of the Chipmunks, or anyone else on this or any other planet.

Christmas Cheer

By Lizabeth S. Tucker

"I don't know why we agreed to do this," Tony DiNozzo grumbled, his long strides forcing Abby Sciuto to half-run to keep up. "I've got a fierce headache from just trying to do a little shopping last night. If I hear White Christmas one more time, I'm gonna shot somebody."

"Because it'll be fun, Scrooge. And the kids need some holiday happiness," Abby replied breathlessly.

Tony's frown faded as he thought about the families displaced after a horrendous fire at their large low income apartment complex. While there had been no deaths and only minor injuries, the children and their parents had been left with only the clothes on their backs. With Christmas just two days away, it was too late for the various charitable organizations to do more than find temporary housing and some donated clothing. There would be no visit from Santa, no presents under the tree.

They continued across the parking garage to Tony's space. Abby's steps slowed as she looked for the new classic sports car that he currently drove. There was no sign of it. Instead there was a large black Land Rover filling up the spot.

"Tony, where's your ride?" She looked at him just in time to catch the blush on his handsome face. "Tony? What did you do? Crash it?"

"Uh, no, the car's safe at home. I just thought, that is, well, there's not a lot of room in the Trans Am," he said sheepishly.

"Room for what? We've got our guitars, a change of clothes and your work backpack, just in case the team gets called out, so what…" Abby reached the huge SUV and looked inside the tinted windows. Her eyes widened and she began squealing, bouncing up and down before throwing herself at Tony.

The Special Agent tried to pull his head back to protect his sensitive ears from the screams now issuing from the Goth forensic specialist's black painted mouth, but since his arms were filled with the warm, wiggling female body that was making the racket, there was little chance of that.

His embarrassment was completed when he was suddenly surrounded by armed security personnel, followed shortly by his team members running from all directions, their own weapons aimed at him.

"What the hell is going on?" Gibbs shouted over Abby's screams and incoherent babbling. He didn't replace his weapon, but did lower it to his side.

Tony shrugged. "Abs got a little excited over the Rover."

Timothy McGee looked at the vehicle, then back at Tony. "I thought you didn't like SUVs. And I know Abby doesn't."

Ziva David was still scanning the area, searching for suspicious activity. "Where did the vehicle come from? Perhaps it is a car bomb."

"No, it's mine. At least temporarily. It's a rental," Tony explained.

McGee grinned, walking around the vehicle while Gibbs dismissed the guards. "Cool. We're all driving to the concert together?"

"Uh, well, as to that." Tony bit his lip as he glanced back at the black behemoth. "I guess I might have room."

Gibbs shook his head. "DiNozzo, you have enough room for the whole team and Fornell's team as well."

"No, he doesn't," Abby said, having finally recovered her equilibrium. She stepped away from Tony and reached for the back cargo door.

"Abby, don't!" Tony made an attempt to stop the young woman, only to have Ziva block his access. Frustrated, he let his head drop until his chin was resting on his chest.

Abby pulled the door open to reveal bags and boxes filled with toys of every shape and size, for every age group. She ran to the driver's side and opened the rear door as well. There, sitting in rows which spilled over onto the floor, were various stuffed animals, all of them soft and fluffy, perfect to draw comfort from when feeling confused and frightened.

"Son of a…"

"Geez, Tony."

Ziva contented herself with a surprised survey of the substitute for Santa's sleigh.

"Did you leave anything in the store?" Special Agent Michele Lee, formerly a member of Tony's team, asked. She was accompanied by Jimmy Palmer and Ducky Mallard.

"Hey, look," Tony blustered. "It was just a few things for Santa to give out. It's not a big deal, ya know."

"Oh, it's a very big deal, DiNozzo, a very big deal indeed. But you're right, Abby, there's only room for two in that monster." Gibbs looked around at everyone gathered in the parking garage. "Okay, Tony will drive himself and Abby to the center. I'll take our government car in case we're called out. McGee, you and David will be with me."

His blue eyes twinkling with mischief, Ducky volunteered to ride along with Gibbs. "I'm certain that Agent Lee and Mr. Palmer can drive there together."

"Uh, sure, Dr. Mallard," Jimmy stammered, his head bobbing up and down eagerly. "We can…I can…I have…"

"We'll share my car, meet you there. Come along, Jimmy."

"Gibbs, see you made it. Couldn't come up with any last minute emergencies, huh?"

"Nope. You couldn't either, Fornell?" Gibbs replied, amused by the Santa hat the FBI agent was wearing. "Getting into the spirit of things?"

"Yeah, well, my daughter gave it to me to wear." Fornell touched the soft fur with the tips of his fingers. "And since she's here, I can't get away with ditching it. As to the other, let's just say that the bad guys seem to be taking that whole 'peace on Earth' thing seriously."

"Who's on first?"

"Some chorale group from Saint Joseph's. Here's a program. Are you singing?"

"Not a chance. But my role is very vital." Gibbs grinned as he scanned the paper listing who was on when. "Well, at least I don't have to suffer all this for long. According to this, we're on third." He kept reading. "Hey, how you'd manage to be on next to last?"

"Don't ask," Fornell said sourly.

"You singing?"

"Yep, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, right before the big guy himself comes out. Although I don't know why, we don't have anything for him to give out."

"Don't worry about that, Tony's got it covered."

Fornell looked across the room when Tony was in conversation with Father Franklin and Jason Evers from the local fire department that was doing duty as Santa Claus. The three men walked out the back door leading to the garage. One eyebrow rose as he murmured, "is that so?"

"Gibbs, Gibbs, Gibbs!" Abby came skipping up, dressed in a bright red elf dress, green tights covering her shapely legs.

"Ms. Sciuto, you look quite nice as one of Santa's little helpers. No skulls?"

"Of course not, Agent Fornell. This is for the kids!" she said primly, then giggled. "And I didn't pick the outfit out, the Director did."

"What did you need, Abby?"

"They're changing the order, we're going on first. The Chorale group got caught in traffic."

"Great. Round the others up, I'll let DiNozzo know."

Once everyone was together, Michele set the up on the stage. With a nod at Father Joseph who was playing the piano while Abby accompanied him on guitar, she stood in front of the team and spoke. "Alright, everybody, ready to sing the song?"

"I'd say we were," Ducky said.

"Yeah, let's sing it now!" Abby cheered.

"Okay, Jimmy?" Michele asked.


"Okay, Tim?"


"Okay, Tony? Tony?" Michele looked to where Tony was busy playing on a handheld video game.

"DiNozzo!" Gibbs barked.

Tony's head came up and a sheepish grin spread across his face. "On it, boss!" he said, earning laughter from the kids listening to the group.

Christmas, Christmas time is near,

Time for toys and time for cheer.

We've been good, but we can't last,

Hurry, Christmas, hurry fast.

Want a plane that loops the loop,

"I would like a hula hoop," Abby said, wiggling her hips.

We can hardly stand the wait,

Please, Christmas, don't be late.

Michele walked around the group, frowning. "Okay, let's see. That was very good, Jimmy."

"Thanks, Mi-…Agent Lee."

"Very good, Dr. Mallard."

Ducky bowed. "Thank you, my dear, but you really should call me Ducky."

Michele smiled and turned to where Tony was once again engrossed in his video game. "Uh, Tony? You were a little flat, so try to work on that. Tony? Tony?"

"DiNOZZO!!" Gibbs snapped.

"Got it, boss!" Tony said, slipping the game into his jacket pocket, winking at the kids when they giggled.

Want a plane that loops the loop,

"I still want a hula hoop," Abby reiterated.

We can hardly stand the wait,

Please, Christmas, don't be late.

We can hardly stand the wait,

Please, Christmas, don't be late.

They all stood and bowed, except Tony who pulled his game out and settled down to play some more. Everyone applauded wildly, laughing when Tim and Jimmy started pushing each other playfully.

Fornell strolled over to where Gibbs stood, a cup of coffee in his hand. "Not bad. You certainly had a hard part."

"Yeah, quite a stretch."

The two men watched and listened to the entertainment and the laughing children. Fornell was particularly taken by one particular scene, that of Tony DiNozzo sitting on the floor, holding a very young girl who was burying her face in his shirt. "What's up with that?"

Gibbs followed Fornell's pointing finger and sighed. "That's Kanicka Reynolds. Her mother died a few days before the fire and her father is in Iraq, so she's been staying with a family friend. Now that they've been burned out of their home, Kanicka is feeling left out and lonely. She and Tony found each other during the investigation into the fire."

"What's her father, a Marine?"

"Yeah, and he's gonna be shipped home as soon as they find him. He's on a deep recon and has been out of contact."

"I didn't think DiNozzo liked kids," Fornell commented.

"Oh, he likes them, he just doesn't know how to relate to them since he didn't have much interaction with kids when he was one himself." Gibbs watched as Tony called to Abby. When he saw the young woman bringing Tony's guitar to him, he smiled. "Come on, Tobias, DiNozzo's gonna sing."

"So we're heading the other direction?"

"Nope, we're going to get closer and listen. The kid's got a pretty good voice."

Tony gently moved Kanicka to one side so he could play the guitar, letting her lean against the wall next to him. He fiddled with the strings, then strummed it softly. As he began to sing Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, more of the children began to gather around. He encouraged them to sing along and soon the center was filled with the sounds of sweet young voices.

Agent Sacks tapped Fornell on the shoulder. "We're up next, sir."

"Good," Fornell said. "That means Santa Claus will soon be here. And then we can go home. I still wish we could've gotten some little gift or toy for the kids."

"Like I said, Tobias, Tony took care of that."

"What are you talking about?"

"My soft-hearted agent thought the same thing and bought the toy stores out."

"Oh, yeah? How about that," Fornell said. "We'd be glad to pitch in to offset his costs."

"I don't think he'd want that," Gibbs replied. "But you could contribute to the fund for these families."

"I think we will. C'mon, Sacks, let's get this over with."

On the drive back to NCIS headquarters, Abby leaned her head back against the soft leather seat. "That went really well, don't you think?"

Tony smiled softly. "Yeah, I think it did. Did you see the kids when Santa started giving out the toys?"

"The stuffed animals were a big hit with the younger ones," Abby commented.

They drove along in silence for a while longer, the headlights of the passing cars making a strange strobe light effect in the night. As Tony pulled off the highway, Abby turned to face him. "Why were you so stressed before we went? It's not like you."

The dark-haired agent sighed. "I've always been kinda conflicted about Christmas."

"I thought it would be your favorite holiday."

"It is, but it's supposed to be a family one and, well, family holidays in my household usually meant being put on display at my father's business parties. The packages under the tree were mostly for show, or for people he was trying to schmooze. His assistant would buy one or two gifts for me, and something from a jewelry store for my mother."

"Nothing personal, but your family sucks."

"Oh, no argument there from me. What was your Christmas like?"

"Fun, frenetic, crazy, nutty, silly, and crowded. Family and friends and casual acquaintances all were invited to the house for dinner. My parents had friends both in and out of the deaf community, so the noise level would be high, but you'd also see hands flashing around the room as well. By the time the new year came around, we'd all be exhausted."

"Sounds like fun," Tony observed wistfully.

"It is. You should come with me sometime. I've asked you before."

"Yeah, but I didn't want to intrude. Christmas is for family."

Abby reached over and touched Tony's arm. "Don't you understand? We are family, all of us, you, me, Gibbs, McGee, Ducky, Jimmy, Ziva, we're as much a family as anyone you might have blood ties with, maybe even more."

"Really? You think of me as family?"

"Sure. You're the annoying older brother who just can't help teasing me."

Tony chuckled. "I can accept that."


As Tony pulled into the parking garage at NCIS, Abby leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. "Merry Christmas, Tony."

"Merry Christmas, Abs."

A/N: You may have recognized the song used as "Christmas, Don't Be Late", made famous by Alvin and the Chipmunks and their human member, Dave Seville. It was written in 1958 by Ross Bagdasarian, Dave's real name, and was the only Chipmunk song to reach number one on the Billboard chart. It was also the only Christmas song to reach number one that year. After hearing it over and over again this past week, I suddenly got a flash of Gibbs barking out "DiNozzo!" in the place where Dave usually calls out "Alvin!". Thus this story was born. Merry Christmas to all NCIS fans and friends.