"Abbs, it's like anything else. Everything else is gravy."
"Ha, ha, Tony," Abby retorted, shaking her head. "I'm a southern girl, we don't make lumpy gravy! Get your hot Italian ass over here and start whisking."
Tony sighed, giving the game one last glance before joining her in the surprisingly large kitchen. "Tell me again why you thought this was a good idea." He rolled his eyes but took the whisk and began blending the lumps out of the rich liquid.
"Because it is. Gibbs has been really hinky since the thing with Lee. And Ducky hasn't said much, but with Victoria being hospitalized, he isn't cooking. And since Tim's sister is going to her boyfriend's place, he's alone. And Jimmy's so upset. And…"
"Okay, okay. Enough, Abbs! I get it. But Thanksgiving with Gibbs and Jackson…"
"Oh come on. You have such a crush on Gibbs and we all love Jackson." She glanced over at the TV. "What's the score?"
"Dunno," Tony retorted. "It's Detroit, Abby. They couldn't win against the average Pop Warner team. They haven't won a game this year yet."
She giggled and gave him a hug, appraising the gravy. "You're so good at beating out the lumps, Tony."
He turned to face her, watching her expression. "You can't do that today."
"Why not?" Abby asked, pouting.
"Rule twelve," Tony said with an exaggerated sigh.
"That's the least of Gibbs' problems these days," Abby shot back. "If I want to get huggy with you, Gibbs can just deal. Like we don't know that Ziva's mystery boyfriend is Gibbs. That's the worst kept secret, Tony."
"Yeah, but we let him have his illusions. Makes life much simpler. How'd you get Gibbs to come anyway?"
Abby gave him an evil smirk. "I invited Jack. Gibbs had no choice at all."
Tony chuckled, drifting to the stove and checking on the bird. "You're devious."
"Wrong! I'm good. Just wait 'til Jack realizes the sofa is a coffin. Won't that be great?"
The doorbell rang and Tony rolled his eyes. "Saved by the bell." He hurried to the door and opened it. "McHarvest, Happy Thanksgiving! And Palmer. Come on in. Abby's in the kitchen."
Each guest had been instructed to bring a dish. From the cinamonny smell coming from McPilgrim's casserole, Tony knew it had to be. "Probie! Sweet potato casserole."
"Yep! My mom's recipe." Tim looked very proud as Tony breathed in the scent.
Tony grinned, then looked at Palmer, who was wearing the same grim expression they'd gotten used to since Lee's death. Tony softened his voice. "Come on in, Jim. Relax. You're among friends here. What did you bring?"
Jimmy held out his casserole with a small smile. "Corn pudding. Native American dish."
"Looking good, Jimmy. Looking good. Game's on, guys. Take a seat on Abby's sofa." Not the coffin. They'd save that for Jack and Gibbs. Much more fun that way.
Tim gave Tony a curious look and he knew he was acting like a co-host. Well, they could just deal with it. Life was too short to lie and they'd all been through enough this year. He drifted into the kitchen and Abby went out and said her hellos. Tony put the casseroles down on the stovetop and got a couple of beers for the guys. He was relieved to see Abby on Jimmy's lap, cuddling close. Jimmy was smiling faintly and that spark was back in his eyes.
The doorbell rang again and Tony jumped up to answer it and admitted a beaming Jack and a Gibbs who little a combination of uncomfortable and charmed. "Hey Gibbses. Happy Turkey Day!" Tony reached for the large serving dish Gibbs was holding and breathed in. "That smells so good. What is it, Jack?"
Jack grinned. "Happy Thanksgiving, Tony. Apple cranberry crumb. And Leroy hand made some bourbon vanilla ice cream." Jack stepped past him and Tony watched Gibbs watching his father fondly. Jack pulled Abby into a tight hug and Tony couldn't stop smiling.
"Come on in, Gibbs. You made ice cream?"
Gibbs nodded. "Yeah, in the car with some wine." He motioned to his still-injured hand. "Want to help me out."
Tony nodded, noticing Ziva getting out of her car. "Glad you and Jack are here, Boss."
Gibbs squeezed Tony's shoulder. "Not 'Boss' today, Tony, Just Gibbs, or Jethro."
"Or Leroy?" Tony asked, strangely happy to get the headslap. He actually leaned into it.
"That is reserved for my father, Tony."
"Got ya, Boss." He smirked when Gibbs followed up the headslap with a mussing motion. Tony followed Gibbs back to his car, winking at Ziva. Gibbs loaded him up with three bottles of wine and took out a carton of ice cream.
"Gibbs! There must be a gallon of ice cream there!"
Gibbs grinned, the first real burst of happiness Tony'd seen since Lee's death. "You telling me you can have too much ice cream?"
"Nope, Leroy. Never!" He dodged again as Gibbs started to headslap him and thought the better of it, then winced with a smaller but no less lethal hand made contact with his head.
"Happy Thanksgiving to you too, Ziva. Whatcha got there?"
Ziva gave him and Gibbs a smile and Tony could swear she patted his ass. "Pumpkin pie. I wanted to try making it and it will go good with the ice cream Gibbs made."
Tony focused on that. "Hey! How'd you know Gibbs made…" He trailed off, shaking his head. "Worst kept secret, you two." Before they could respond, he turned and walked into the house, putting the wine in the fridge to chill.
"Hey, you," Abby said, coming into the kitchen with the ice cream and pie. She put the ice cream in the freezer after sampling it and gave Tony a big grin. "Mmm! So what did you say to Gibbs and Ziva. They're looking real uncomfortable."
"Let 'em know it isn't exactly a secret." Tony wrapped his arms around Abby's waist, kissing her neck. She melted against him and he ran a hand over her lower back, wondering just how frisky they could get.
"Rule twelve, DiNozzo." At some point Gibbs had come in to the kitchen and was glaring at them.
Tony met their boss' eyes. "Rule twelve was made to be broken," he retorted, giving Gibbs a roguish grin. When Gibbs just shook his head and sighed, Tony chuckled. "What's good for the goose, Boss…"
"Yeah, just be discreet."
"On her..it, Boss." Tony kissed Abby and swatted her bottom, motioning her out to their guests.
When Tony went back out into the living room with beer for Jack, Gibbs, and Ziva, he noticed they were all on the coffin together, Gibbs and Ziva sitting extra close.
"Don't mind if I do, Tony. Real comfortable couch Abby has here. So comfortable I could fall asleep."
"That's what they all say," Tony remarked, winking at Gibbs.
Tony was just about to sit down next to McGee and Palmer when the door rang again.
"Ducky! Whatcha got for me, my friend?" Ducky was loaded down with a bag and a huge dish.
" Happy Thanksgiving, Tony." Ducky craned his head inside and nodded at the group. "Everyone. This is gingerbread pumpkin trifle here, Anthony. It is my mother's recipe. She sends her regards, all. They expect to release her from the hospital tomorrow but she's had a lovely turkey sandwich with cranberries and…Ah yes, the trifle. Did you know that trifle is a particularly Scottish dish. I wanted to bring a bit of my heritage to the table so to speak and…"
"Get in here, Duck," Gibbs called out. "You're letting in all the cold air."
Ducky gave Tony smile. "And a pear and pistachio cake as well. There's a bottle of dessert wine in there as well."
"Good deal. Come in, Ducky. Abbs is in the kitchen." Tony took the bag from Ducky and followed him in, watching as Ducky hugged Abby. Tony couldn't help drifting back in time, to the Thanksgivings of his childhood. They were so different to this. No family and friends ever visited, just "business associates". There had never been warmth and laughter, no relaxation, no sense of family or holiday. He'd been ordered to "sit there and be a good boy" and he'd been so bored, but if he'd fidgeted, he'd get punished after the fact.
"Tony? Want to pour the wine? We're ready for appetizers now."
He glanced over to Abby, surprised. Abby'd laid out the cheeses, cold cuts, and dips he'd purchased into an artful arrangement. He must have been in the past longer than he'd thought.
"Where's Ducky?" he asked, still trying to get his bearings.
"He went out to the living room like five minutes ago. You okay, Tony?"
He physically shook himself out of his memories. "Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine." With one last kiss to Abby's cheek, he began pouring drinks for everyone. They'd decided that the first course would be casual and in the kitchen while the dining room table would be reserved for the main deal.
When the eight glasses of wine were poured, Tony asked everyone to join them, offering Jack a chair. It seemed natural for him to do the toast.
He hefted his glass, thinking about how hard this year had been on all of them. They'd lost Jenny, he'd been accused of murder, the team had been split up, Ziva had been in a bombing, McGee attacked by a dog, and then there had been Langer's death. And Lee's. And through it all, they were all standing together, having added Jack to their numbers.
Tony pulled in a deep breath, meeting each person's eyes before speaking. "To good friends and family, both adopted and blood. To good food, great companionship…." He met Abby's eyes, lingering on her. "And love. Everything else is gravy."