A Very NCIS-y Christmas
Disclaimer: NCIS is not mine, though I asked Santa for it. I have been a very, very good girl.
A/N I love Christmas. It's my favourite holiday. I love everything about it … songs. Decorating trees, buying presents, family Christmases and, of course, the food. And what better way to celebrate the holiday season than combining my two loves and creating an uber-feel good, fluffy NCIS Christmas fic with some kiddies thrown in for extra effect.
Thanks so much to my beta, Kandon Kuuson. You are so great, Jems.
I know Ziva is Jewish, hence celebrates Hanukah, but since Tony and the children were raised in America and Ziva's been living there for quite some time, I'm sure she would celebrate Christmas as well. I'm inclined to believe that the DiNozzo family would celebrate both holidays. But since Christmas is what I celebrate, it's what I'm writing about.
Merry Christmas to all, stay safe on the roads and have a fantastic holiday season.
Parings: Tiva, McAbby and Palmer/Lee
Warnings: Major, major fluff – if you don't like Tiva and Tivalets, McAbby and McBabies, Palmer/Lee and … err … mini Autopsy Gremlins, Daddy Gibbs, Mummy Jen, Grandpa Ducky, Christmas, presents and all things fluffy and Christmas-y … turn away now!
Summary: Christmas time has come for NCIS.
"That won't work, it's too risky," Ziva whispered urgently to Tony. "It will put the mission in jeopardy."
"Jeopardy? I'm just as qualified to carry this task as you are, Zee-vah," Tony replied confidently, but looked at the sharp weapon in Ziva's hand warily. "Besides, I'm senior field agent, I out rank you. I order you to step down."
Ziva rolled her eyes. "You're not senior field agent from where I'm standing. I refuse to … to give out to you."
"It's give in, Zee-vah," Tony corrected quietly, but ginning broadly. "Honestly … after all these years …"
"I am much more experienced for such a task," Ziva cut him off quickly. "Now, if you please …" She gestured, with her knife, to the package Tony was holding.
Tony looked ready to refuse, when a little voice interrupted their strategic planning.
"Ummm … daddy," a little voice entered the conversation.
Anthony and Ziva DiNozzo looked down to the where the little voice had come from. Standing next to the dark-haired girl was another, older girl and a little boy, all dressed in pyjamas and dressing gowns.
"I think mummy's right, daddy," eight-year-old Kelia DiNozzo chimed. "You can't even cook toast without burning it. I would kinda like my turkey cooked, not crispy." She smiled innocently at her father who slowly placed the package on the counter.
"So much for doing this quietly!" Tony sighed to himself.
Ziva smirked at Tony before turning to her two remaining children. "Raise your hand if you agree with Kel."
Slowly, but surely, ten-year-old Marni and five-year-old Ethan both raised their hands.
"Sorry, daddy." Marni looked at her dad apologetically. "But, yeah, this one goes to mum." Ethan nodded his agreement, a broad smile playing across his face.
"It seems, my little hairy butt," Ziva smirked, "that the tribe has spoken … majority rules. Now, if you would please vacate my kitchen, I can get on with cooking something people can actually eat. Speaking of people, the others will be arriving soon … I don't want this year to be a repeat of what happened at Abby and McGee's last year …"
All the DiNozzos thought back to the previous Christmas, which, as an unspoken rule, was never mentioned unless under threats of torture. Even then, it was still risky to say 'Gibbs, candy canes and puppy' in the same sentence.
Tony laughed aloud. "Ooh, I still can't get the picture of Gibbs …" he started, but was cut off by four glares.
"Poppy Gibbs would slap you silly if he heard you say that," Kelia admonished, "but since Poppy Gibbs isn't here yet …"
She looked at her father with the same manic smile Ziva used if he left the toilet seat up. Kelia was a mini-Ziva, not just in looks, but also in personality.
"Well …" Tony faked looking scared, though he'd never admit just how much that smile scared him "I guess you'll have to catch me first."
Tony took off at a jog, dodging Ziva as she reversed from the fridge. The three DiNozzo children looked at one another before racing after their father who had exited the kitchen and proceeded to jog down the hall to the living room.
"You'll never take me alive!" Ziva heard her husband yell from the living room. His comment was followed by a thump.
"Oomph," Ziva heard him groan as three, smaller thumps that sounded vaguely like three little bodies jumping on a larger one echoed throughout the house.
After a few minutes, Tony voice became authoritative once again with a slight hint of a loveable tone. "All right, you got me. Now you guys go get dressed before I tickle you all to death." Ethan giggled from the lounge room. Tony would be busy for the time being with Ethan.
Ziva smiled as she picked up a knife and started to chop the onions.
A couple of hours later, the doorbell chimed. Jethro the corgi started to bark as the ringing continued.
The feet of three small children, now all dressed, ran into the kitchen where Ziva was still busy with a bowl of cookie mixture.
"Mummy, mummy, mummy," Ethan chanted excitedly as he ran around the kitchen. "People are here!"
"I can hear that," Ziva laughed as she turned the wooden spoon in her mixing bowl.
"Can I open the door?" Marni begged, looking at her mother with wide eyes.
Ziva nodded and Marni smiled happily. Marni took off out of the kitchen, followed by her brother and sister.
"Make sure you check who it is first," Ziva yelled after her children.
"Yes, mum," Marni replied distractedly as she looked out the living room window with Ethan and Kelia by her side. Jethro the corgi was still barking madly and pawing at the door.
"Jet, move," Marni said loudly as she stepped over to the front door. Jethro barked in reply so Marni gently nudged him away with her foot.
"It's Auntie Abby and Uncle Tim, mummy," Kelia yelled loudly to Ziva as Marni reached up and turned the doorknob.
"Hi Auntie Abby and Uncle Tim," Marni smiled brightly as she took in the family of four standing on the DiNozzo residence's porch.
"Ooh, how's my little girl," Abby squealed, bending over and enveloping Marni in a tight hug. Marni winced as her auntie squeezed her a little too tight.
"Katie," Kelia shrieked, pushing past Abby and Marni in order to reach the eight-year-old pigtailed girl wearing a black and red dress.
"Kel," Caitlin McGee replied with just as much enthusiasm. The two girls hugged each other as if they hadn't seen each other in years, despite seeing each other the day before.
"Merry Christmas, Uncle Tim," Ethan said sweetly as he grabbed onto the hand of six-year-old Joshua McGee. "You'll never guess what I got," he directed the statement at Josh and the two boys ran off up the stairs.
"You gonna stand there all day, Probie?" came Tony's voice from behind Abby and Marni. He was carrying a couple of bottles of vintage wine from his garage cellar. Strictly speaking, it was his rule that he only ever brought these out on special occasions, particular special occasions.
McGee shrugged and gestured to the females in front of him. Tony rolled his eyes as McGee nudged Abby and motioned for her to step inside.
"Daddy," Marni stated as she and Abby walked through the door hand in hand. "Auntie Abby and Uncle Tim and Katie and Josh are here."
"I can see that," Tony replied, putting the bottles down on the sideboard, as he took McGee's hand and shook it. "Merry Christmas, McGeek."
"You too, Tony," McGee said warmly.
"Happy Christmas, Tony," Abby said brightly, let go of Marni's hand and hugged him tightly. Like Marni, he winced.
"Merry Christmas to you too, Abs," he managed to get out as Abby squeezed him tighter.
Jethro the corgi wandered back into the hallway, and started to bark and paw at Tony's leg.
"I think Jet's hungry, Uncle Tony," Katie noted as she looked at the little dog.
"He always is," Tony sighed. "I'll get Ziva to feed him when she's done."
"You'll get Ziva to do what?" she announced as she sneaked up behind Tony, making him jump. Katie and Kelia giggled.
"Daddy said you have to feed Jet," Marni offered.
"Did he now?" Ziva glared at Tony.
"Going to feed the dog," Tony amended promptly. He grabbed the bottles of wine and turned and walked off in the direction of the laundry followed by a bouncing Jethro.
"Happy Christmas," Ziva turned to McGee and Abby.
"You too," McGee said as Abby wrapped her arms around Ziva's neck.
"Mummy, I'm gonna show Katie my presents," Kelia stated and pulled Katie by the hand. They rushed off in the direction of the kitchen and the adults, plus Marni heard the backdoor open and then slam shut.
"Are the boys upstairs," Ziva questioned as she gestured for McGee to put the presents they had brought under the tree in the living room.
Abby nodded. "Something about Christmas presents," she said brightly. "Oh, I love Christmas."
"We know," McGee and Ziva replied in unison, both looking at each other.
"I love Christmas too, Auntie Abby," Marni chimed.
"That's why you're my favourite oldest girl."
"I'm the only oldest," Marni frowned then smiled. "Can I help, mummy?"
"Ummm …" Ziva didn't particularly want Marni in the kitchen with all the hot food and sharp equipment.
"We've got more stuff to unload," Abby offered. "She can help me."
"Okay, good," Ziva nodded in agreement.
"I'll go and find Tony," McGee added as he started to walk away.
"When you find him, tell him to get his hairy butt into the kitchen," Ziva called after McGee.
"I'll tell him you want him," McGee amended as he reached the laundry. Ziva turned and went back to the kitchen.
"Looks like it's just me and you, kiddo," Abby smiled to Marni.
Ten minutes later, the doorbell chimed again. This time, Tony went to the door and opened it wide.
"Merry Christmas, boss," Tony said, grinning at the first person standing there. Gibbs didn't even bother to correct him; he hadn't been Tony's boss for three years.
"DiNozzo," Gibbs nodded in reply. "You gonna make us stand out here in the cold or invite us in?" he asked as he shuffled in the cold.
Tony stepped back from the door, letting Gibbs pass. He was followed by Jimmy, who was holding five-year-old Lachlan's hand, and Michelle, who was carrying ten-month-old Alyssa on her hip and trying to balance a steaming pot in her other hand.
"Let me take that, Probette," Tony said quickly and took the pot out of Michelle's hand.
"Thanks, Tony," she smiled back her him.
"Ah, Ziva's in the kitchen with Abby," Tony announced. "McGee and I are in the living room." McGee looked in their direction as he heard his name, acknowledging Palmer with a raised beer.
"The boys are upstairs," Tony continued, looking pointedly at Lachlan so Lachlan slipped his hand out of his father's and raced up the stairs. "And the girls are outside," he finished.
"Sit down … grab a beer," Tony gestured to where McGee was already sitting.
"I think I'll join Ziva and Abby in the kitchen," Michelle stated and turned to Palmer. "Honey, can you take Ally? I don't want her in the kitchen."
"Of course." He smiled, reaching out and taking his baby girl from her mother.
"Da," she squeaked and snuggled into his arms. Jimmy brushed a piece of her dark hair out of her eyes and kissed her forehead.
"Awww, ain't she a cutie," Tony cooed and tickled her tummy. "Can you say Tony?" Alyssa stared at Tony blankly, before pursing her lips and blowing a raspberry.
"C'mon, To – ny," he tried again, but Alyssa ignored him and curled her fist around the collar of Palmer's top.
Gibbs smirked as he opened a beer and handed it to Jimmy. "Think you've lost your charm, DiNozzo."
Tony opened his mouth to retort, but was interrupted by the door again. "That's would be Jenny," he changed what he was going to say as Gibbs opened a beer for himself and took a drink from the bottle.
Tony opened the door with a smile and greeted the former director of NCIS saying, "Welcome to the mad house of DiNozzo, you've got the booze … you've got the entry."
Jenny laughed and held up two bottles are expensive champagne. "Surely it can't be that bad already, Tony." Tony just looked at her with a knowing look.
Later that afternoon, after all the food had been eaten and the scraps had been given to Jethro, the corgi, not the ex-NCIS agent, Ziva and Abby were given the task of rounding up the seven children they had between them.
Alyssa was easy; she was sleeping in her pram next to her parents.
Ziva walked up the stairs of her house and stopped when she heard giggles coming from her eldest daughter's room. She walked over to the door with the basketball poster on it and heard girly voices drift through the wall.
"No way," Ziva heard Katie exclaim. "That's icky!"
"Just because you're little," Marni retorted. "Everyone else in my class has a boyfriend … and so do I."
At the mention of 'boyfriend', Ziva's eyes nearly popped out of her head.
"But Brad's got cooties," Kelia whined, taking the same stance as Katie. Brad was their eleven-year-old neighbour.
Ziva turned pale. Not only did her little girl have a boyfriend, he was older!
"No he doesn't," Marni argued. "You just think that 'cause you're little."
"I am not little," Kelia retorted immediately. "I'm eight."
"Exactly," Marni voiced triumphantly.
Sensing that an argument might break put between her girls, Ziva opened the bedroom door without knocking. The girls jumped as Ziva's head poked around the door.
"Everyone's downstairs," she commanded.
"But …" Kelia tried.
"No buts, downstairs, now," Ziva ordered.
"But, Auntie Ziva," Katie smiled sweetly.
Ziva cracked a smile. "Well, if you don't want presents …" She turned, shut the bedroom room and counted to three. Three seconds later, the door flew open and three little girls flew down the hall. The prospect of present would always make them run.
As she followed the girls into the living room, Ziva bent over and muttered in Tony's ear, "I think we need to have a talk with Marni. She has a boyfriend."
"What," Tony yelped, falling off his chair in surprise and shock, almost loosing his camera in the process. There were various snickers and giggles around the room.
"We'll talk about that later, sweetcheeks," Tony muttered as he turned red.
At that moment, Abby entered the living room, followed by three very dirty boys.
"Lockie," Michelle admonished, standing up and striding to her son. "What have you been doing?" Both Abby and Ziva turned to look at their respective child.
"We were playing," Josh offered, being the bravest and the oldest out of the three.
"Tell them where you were playing," Abby said sternly.
The three boys looked at their mothers meekly.
"Ethan …" Ziva warned.
"Behind the shed," he confessed, under the glare of his mum.
Ziva sighed and said, "How many times have I …" just as Michelle and Abby started with, "How many times has Auntie Ziva …"
The boys were saved from more trouble by the sound of a ringing bell.
"Ho, ho, ho," boomed the voice. The children turned and Santa was standing in the hallway.
"Poppy Gibbs," Katie shouted, but was elbowed by Kelia.
"He's meant to be Santa," she hissed, stating the obvious.
"I know that," Katie hissed back. "But it's really Poppy Gibbs."
"I know that," Kelia echoed.
The first time Gibbs had dressed up as Santa Claus, the adults had sat there with their mouths hanging open. The kids loved it of course, but the adults were dumbfounded. Gibbs glared at them, slapped them on the back of the head and ordered that they were never to speak about it during the year … EVER, snapping them out of their trace. It had now become a yearly tradition.
"Ooh, presents." Joshua bounced happily on the spot.
"This doesn't mean you're not in trouble, mister," Abby said firmly, but smiled brightly. "But we'll worry about that later. I love presents!"
"Whose turn is it to go first this year?" Gibbs asked in his Santa voice as he plonked down into a chair near the Christmas tree.
"Ooh, me," Ethan spoke up excitedly. The kids rotated who got the first present each year, making it equal and fair.
"Okay, Ethan," Gibbs picked up a rectangular present and handed it to the little boy. "From Katie and Joshy."
The snap flash of Tony's camera captured this year's moments. It was his turn this time; McGee had it last year and Jimmy the year before
Ethan tore at the present, as little kids do, and emerged triumphantly with a beginner chemistry set and a picture book about the periodic table. "Thanks, Auntie Abby and Uncle Tim."
"I'm next," Katie squealed and Gibbs handed her present.
Half an hour later, the only presents that remained under the tree were the ones from Gibbs. It was another tradition that Gibbs' presents were left until last. Ever since the children had been born, they had received basement-made presents. Now that he had retired, he had even more time to work on seven perfect presents.
"Ally first," Gibbs announced. It wasn't much of a surprise; each girl had gotten one on their first Christmas.
"Ally gets her house, Ally gets her house," Katie chanted excitedly. "Did you hear that, Ally, you get your house," she said to the baby who had woken up.
"Katie, calm down," McGee reprimanded lightly. This was exactly how he imagined Abby as a little girl.
"But Ally gets her house," Katie pouted. She pointed to the newly unveiled dollhouse sitting in the corner by the tree.
After every girl in the family had been born, Gibbs had made them a dollhouse. And from then on, each birthday, Christmas or other special occasion, they would get a new piece of furniture for their house. As for the boys, they usually got puzzles, trains, or other wooden transportation toys.
Jimmy and Michelle thanked Gibbs with bright smiles and pointed out the various rooms to Alyssa. She took one look at it, and fell asleep again.
It was nightfall and Gibbs had just finished washing the dishes. He had volunteered to do the dishes as the others watched the annual Christmas movie. Today, it was The Grinch. All Tony's idea, of course.
Gibbs walked into the living room, but stopped at the door. He smiled to himself as he lent against the lintel post.
Abby and McGee were curled up on the couch together; Abby's head was leaning on McGee's shoulder and vice versa. Josh was snuggled up in their laps, laying half on McGee and half on Abby.
Ziva was sleeping in an armchair with Tony resting on the floor between her legs. Ethan was sleeping in her lap. His hand had grabbed onto her top and his breathing matched his mother's. Marni was lying on the floor, using her father's legs as a cushion.
Kelia and Katie were leaning against the wall, and against each other. Their little hands were intertwined, never letting go even though they were both fast asleep.
Alyssa was in her mother's arms on the other couch. The baby girl was the only one not sleeping in the room. Palmer's head had dropped on Michelle's lap and Lachlan was resting against Jimmy's leg on the floor.
Jenny was sitting crossed-legged on the other armchair. Her head was resting on a pillow that Marni, Kelia and Ethan had made her for Christmas. It said, 'We love you, Auntie Jenny' and had a photo of the three smiling children imprinted on it.
He made his way over to Alyssa and Michelle, gently taking the baby from the sleeping agent's arms. He sat down in the vacant rocking chair and rested the wide-awake Alyssa in the crook of his arm. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet, Tony, Ziva and the kids had given it to him a few Christmases ago.
Taking out, three photographs, he laid them on his lap and raised them one at a time to show Alyssa.
"This is your grandpa Ducky," Gibbs said softly, showing the little girl the first photo. Ducky had unfortunately succumbed to old age before Michelle had even fallen pregnant with Alyssa.
"He was the medical examiner, just like your Daddy," Gibbs continued to tell Alyssa. She looked at him blankly and gurgled happily. "He liked telling stories, yet no one seemed to like listen to them." Gibbs smiled to himself before picking up the next photo.
"This is Auntie Kate," Gibbs pointed out. "Auntie Kate worked with me before Auntie Ziva did. She was a great agent, an asset to our line of work. She died unfortunately, at the hands of Auntie Ziva's half-brother …," Alyssa whimpered as if she was sad about Kate.
"But Auntie Ziva did the most heroic thing I've seen," Gibbs whispered to baby Alyssa. "She killed her own brother to save me. But that's just between me and you now. That's something I'm taking to the grave."
Gibbs looked at the last photo and sighed. They would have really liked this; they were so big on Christmas.
"This, Ally, is my first wife, Shannon and my daughter, Kelly." Gibbs showed the little girl a picture of the smiling duo. "They died a long time ago."
"Ma," Alyssa babbled, pointing to Shannon.
"Yes, Kelly's mum," Gibbs said sadly. "Kelly loved Christmas, just like your cousins. She was such a happy child, so cheerful and sweet … I think you'll be a lot like her …" Alyssa looked up at Gibbs and offered him a smile. Gibbs smiled back and tickled Alyssa's tummy, making her giggle.
Alyssa yawned and grabbed onto Gibbs' finger, pulling it into her mouth. Rather than withdrawing, he watched the little girl as she dozed of to sleep.
Smiling, Gibbs looked around the room at his sleeping family. No one was related by blood, but that didn't matter. They were family, they loved each other and that was all that mattered. Aunties, Uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins … they were closer than a "real" family.
Taking one last look at the family members that couldn't be here with them today, Gibbs said as he looked around the room, "Merry Christmas, my family."
Somewhere high above the clouds, four figures sat watching as another Christmas passed.
"Is daddy sad, mummy?" the brown haired girl asked.
"No, honey," the red-haired woman replied. "He is happy, he has his family with him."
She nodded. "That's good, mummy." She lent on the shoulder of her mother, nestling in the familiar scent.
"You know, this reminds me of the time …" the eldest gentleman started. The little girl giggled and her mother sighed.
The brunette rolled her eyes, reached out, and slapped him on the back of his head. "Just because Gibbs was above it, doesn't mean I'm not," she laughed.
"Hmmm … Jethro has taught you some bad habits, my dear," he mused.
"That's Jethro for you," the red-haired chimed with a smile.
"Yes," the other woman agreed and looked down at the scene with a sad smile. "Merry Christmas, you guys. We miss you."