He was usually the first one to work in the morning, sometimes meeting Ziva in the parking lot, but never Abby. He was shocked to see her little red roadster in the parking lot when he pulled up. He took off a glove and rested it on the hood. Still warm, she hadn't kept the car here all night while she went to some party. Good. He worried about her. She needed a keeper.

He stopped off at her lab first, but the lights weren't even on. Abby usually came in here first, even if she ended up in some other part of the building. Knowing he was frowning, Gibbs strode to the elevator, pulling out his cell phone as he hit the up button. He hesitated a moment—it was oh six hundred, after all—but his worry won out and he dialed her number.

"Gibbs!" Her voice echoed through the line as the elevator doors opened and he stepped out. He hung up the phone, smiling slightly. "Gibbs?"

"Hey, Abbs."

Her back was to him as she looked at her phone, shook it, and spoke into it again. "Gibbs?" She paused. "You're behind me, aren't you?"


"Why didn't you say so!" She turned, giving him a hug. He shrugged in response.

"What are you doing here so early, Abbs?"

"Decorating the tree."

"Yeah, I can see that." A huge Christmas tree stood in the alcove and she had a couple of boxes of ornaments. "Where'd you get those?"

"These?" She picked one ornament up and twirled it. Gibbs could see the picture of a beautiful little girl as it spun around slowly. "Do you ever read your email?"

"Not when I can avoid it," he retorted, sipping his coffee.

"Well, this year we decided to decorate the tree with our own ornaments. Everyone who read their email and wanted to participate loaned us an ornament. This one is Director Vance's. See? A picture of his daughter."

Gibbs smiled slightly, nodding. "You have a method so these get back to their owners, right?"

"Oh ye of little faith." She turned over the ornament and Gibbs saw the small sticker proclaiming it to be Vance's.

"Who do you have ornaments from?" he asked, trying to peer into the boxes. At the top of the first one was a red Ferarri that had to be DiNozzo's and there was a Scottish bagpiper that screamed "Ducky".

"Most everyone. Cynthia, everyone in admin, legal. The AV guys and girls. The teams and individual agents. Management, archives, the evidence locker people, the other techs, Ducky and Palmer, the maintenance guys and even janitorial and security. Almost everyone." She gave him a very pointed look.

"Can I bring something in tomorrow?" he asked. He felt bad that he'd missed out on this one when everyone had clearly made an effort. He saw quite a few ornaments that clearly meant something to their owners. There was no way he was going to remove one of the few memories he had left of his wife and daughter—they belonged home on the tree. But he could buy something that was meaningful anyway.

"Nope!" There was that little secretive smile Abby loved to give him.

"What do you mean, nope?" he asked in between sips of coffee.

"I mean what I said, nope."

He rolled his eyes. "Why not, Abbs? Don't ya want me to be a part of it?"

She gave him an unexpected hug and he had to hold his arm out so that the coffee wouldn't slosh out onto either of them. "Course I do, my Silver Fox. I have you covered." She bent, reaching into one of the boxes and pulled out a small corked bottle with a boat inside.

He picked it up, looking at it from all angles and chuckling. This he hadn't expected, was thinking of a Marine seal or something like that. But it fit...and his team would know and understand.

"You guys still trying to figure out how I get them out?" he asked Abby, amused.

"Nope. I know."

"You do?" Had she really figured it out?

"Yup." She gave nothing away and he thought they needed to play poker against each other. Wasn't the first time he'd thought that either.

"So how do I do it?" He kept his voice casual and silky smooth.

She shivered slightly and he knew he was getting to her.

"You break the glass of course, silly." She shook her head, making a tsk sound as she scrutinized the tree, searching for just the right place to put the little bottle.

"Be serious, Abbs."

She turned to look at him, hand on her hip, slight attitude in her body language. "Gibbs, some things are magic. You are magic. I don't question it. It just is."

It should have seemed ridiculous for a grown woman of science to be so childlike but on Abby it was charming. He leaned in, kissing her cheek. "Merry Christmas, Abbs."

"Merry Christmas, Gibbs!" She turned back to the tree, settling the ornament on a branch that was eye level with both of them. Turning back to him, she gave him a triumphant smile. "What do you think?"

"Perfect." And it was.