Disclaimer - I don't own NCIS, the characters, or the concept of Christmas. Although, I do still have a Christmas pudding in the cupboard that somehow we never got around to eating ..
Gibbs sighed as he shouldered his way through the crowds thronging the lobby of the small and decidedly budget priced, hotel. Using all the resources at Abby's disposal, this was the fifth place they had tried in the last half hour. Each time they had just lost out. With the Airport closed down it seemed that everyone was looking for a place to stay for the night.
"Hey," Gibbs caught the attention of the harassed looking manager. "We called ahead, Special Agent Gibbs?"
"Ah yes, Agent Gibbs," The manager beamed as he pulled out two keycards. "I've kept our last two rooms for you and your team, anything to help out a fellow Marine."
"You were in the Corps?" Gibbs hid his surprise. The man didn't look like a Marine, but then it could have been a few years.
"Oh no, not me," The man shook his head. "But my Dad was and damned proud of it too. That kind of thing stays in your blood. Although, I gotta tell you, I could have given these away ten times over tonight, what with things being as they are. Here you go, Rooms 217 and 219. One Twin and one Double."
"What?" Gibbs' gaze narrowed.
"Sorry," The man was apologetic but unrepentant. "Those are the only two rooms we have left. It is a King sized bed."
"Fine," Gibbs sighed. "We'll take them."
He had stayed in worse places but not over Christmas and not with his entire team in tow. He looked back over at his people. Kate had given up maintaining any semblance of decorum and was sitting on her suitcase, massaging her aching feet. McGee was talking on his cell, the dark circles under his eyes evident, even from this distance. Standing a little off to one side, DiNozzo had his hands stuffed in his pockets, ruining the line of his expensive suit, his eyes dark and distant.
As he walked over to them, he wished he had better news. For the last two weeks they'd worked almost every hour God sent, living on take out and cat naps to find Baxter before he found his next victim. Their search has dragged them half way across the country. Now with their perp safely behind bars, his people deserved some decent R and R, especially on Christmas Eve.
"I know, I shouldn't say this," DiNozzo spoke without making eye contact, as he surveyed the garish 1970's decor. "But I'm almost hoping there's no room at this Inn."
"Please, don't even think that," Kate begged. "How many Hotels have we tried already? Right now, I just want a place where I can have a hot shower, change my clothes and get something to eat."
"Abby says the fog is beginning to clear," McGee reported as he closed his phone. "The airport is about to re-open but since it has been locked down tight for the last twelve hours, everything is going to be backed up for a couple of days. She's going to try and get us something as soon as possible."
"The good news is we got the last two rooms." Gibbs tried to look positive.
"That's the good news? What's the bad news?" DiNozzo asked warily. "Apart from the fact that we're stuck in a place that makes the middle of no-where look like a friggin metropolis?"
"They've given us one double and one twin." Gibbs admitted.
"I am not sharing a bed with DiNozzo." Kate said at once.
"Aw, don't be like that Katie," Tony waggled his eyebrows at her. "It's not like it would be the first time."
"We were undercover, Tony." Kate reminded him.
"But we were very convincing." He leered.
"Enough," Gibbs snapped. "McGee, you take the twin room with Kate. DiNozzo, you're with me."
Gibbs ignored the various reactions of his Agents as he strode ahead. Kate's smug look rolled straight off DiNozzo, whilst McGee's obvious relief that he wouldn't have to share with his Boss was almost comical. It wasn't the first time he and DiNozzo had shared a rack and he doubted it would be the last.
"What do you think there is to do here?" Tony was asking, as they made their way down the hallway towards their rooms.
"Take a shower?" Kate sniffed pointedly.
"Funny, Kate" Tony rolled his eyes, before looking concerned and making a show of trying to sniff his own armpit. "Bad?"
"They're serving Christmas dinner," McGee offered. "I saw the menu in the Lobby."
"Plastic turkey and soggy sprouts?" Tony shook his head. "I'd rather have Pizza."
"There was that town a couple of miles back,." Kate suggested, "With all these people stranded around here there's bound to be some place still open."
"Negative," Gibbs vetoed that. "We spent so much time looking for a place to stay the rental's only got enough gas to get us back to the airport."
"So, we're just stuck here?" Now Kate sounded as miserable as Tony.
"Have a hot date, Katie?" Tony teased.
"No, just the obviously unreasonable hope that for the first time since I was in College I might actually get to spend the holidays at home with my family," Kate sighed. "I guess I'll just have to settle for a phone call and being glad that our killer is behind bars."
"I've never actually spend Christmas apart from my family before." McGee admitted awkwardly.
"Not ever?" Tony looked surprised.
"No," McGee looked wistful. "Right now, my sister will be decorating the tree, my Mom will be putting the finishing touches to her Honey Roast Ham and my father will be mixing up his secret recipe eggnog."
"Sounds nice." Tony patted his shoulder.
"You could all try getting some shut eye," Gibbs tried to head off the misery, before his Agents got too maudlin.
"You want us to sleep through Christmas?" Tony protested. "Gibbs, nobody sleeps through Christmas."
"Well, everything is pretty much shut down, DiNozzo , what do you suggest that we do?" Gibbs snapped. He knew he was being a bastard, taking his own frustration out on his senior field Agent, his people had worked hard and they deserved a better Christmas than this. But he was damned if he could see a way to deliver.
"We could do Secret Santa." Kate suggested.
"That's a good idea," McGee jumped in, eager for anything which would distract Tony and Kate from sniping at each other or deflect Gibbs from turning his bad mood on him. "We used to do that when I was in College. It was fun."
"Except, I'm sure that it hasn't escaped the well honed observational skills of an investigator of your calibre, Probie," Tony stressed the word. "That we are in the middle of no-where and this place doesn't even have so much as a vending machine. What exactly are we supposed to buy?"
"So, we don't buy it, we make it." Kate shrugged.
"And I say again, with what?" Tony pressed.
"Try using your initiative, DiNozzo." Gibbs unexpectedly came to McGee's aid.
It wasn't a bad idea. It would stop Kate and McGee dwelling too much on what they were missing out on back home and, if he handled this right, he might even be able to bring DiNozzo out of his usual Holiday funk. Although, judging by the look of betrayal Tony threw in his direction, he wasn't off to a good start.
"Alright," Kate was getting into the spirit of things. "I'll write everyone's name on a page from my notebook."
"And we can put them in my hat." McGee offered the receptacle.
"I'll go first." Gibbs declared, before DiNozzo could object. He was already watching carefully exactly how Kate was folding the piece of paper with Tony's name on it. He allowed himself a smug smile as he correctly drew out the Italian's name. The first part of his mission successfully completed. Judging by the looks on their faces, Kate was pleased with her recipient, McGee was distinctly nervous and DiNozzo looked like his day had just got even worse.
"Alright, people, go wash up and get some rest. We'll rendezvous in the lobby with our gifts at 19.30 hours." Gibbs ordered.