The Meaning of Christmas

Rating: FR 13
Genre: Angst/Friendship
Pairings: Jibbs, hints at Giva and Jiva.
Warnings: Season 5 and 6 spoilers.
Notes: Written for Kay (tiedyedphoenix) I hope you like it Kay, Merry Christmas.

The entire team stands in disbelief, they are told they're being reassigned. No explanation, just the stating of that fact. They all wonder why.

The team walks out. Once away from the eyes of Vance, they turn to Gibbs; searching for an explanation; hoping he'll be able to fix this. But he doesn't say anything.

They realise now, that they actually are being split up.

They stand around in the bullpen there is silence. No one is ready to speak, if they speak it will make it real. They stand there looking at each other; still no one is speaking, they don't know what to say. This is the end; their end.

They just witnessed the end of one of their team member's lives, now it is their turn. Their team is broken.

--

December 24th, 2008

He doesn't like the fuss of Christmas, he doesn't see it's purpose. Though he understands it from a child's point of view; for a child has imagination and imagination ignites wonder and curiosity; Christmas is special when you are a child. He remembers his childhood Christmases; playing in the snow, sitting by the fireplace watching the wood slowly burn, waking to find the goodies left under the tree; grinning at their contents.

It is different now. There are no decorations, no snow games, no goodies under a tree. There are only memories; memories of Christmases gone by; memories of the people he once shared them with. He makes no effort to acknowledge the holiday, why should he, who would he share it with?

The day had passed with excitement, many of the agents swapped childhood Christmas stories and told of their plans for this Christmas. Most would be going home to see their family. Gibbs' team was different. The majority had no desire to go home. It was either out of lack of interest to see their overcompensating or not-compensating-enough parents and relatives or the simple fact that it was too far away.

The building was decorated with tinsel and wreaths. The bold orange walls lined with tinsel of red and green. It was quite bright in there. The brightness contrasted by the grey of the sky outside. It was cold. A contrast to the simulated warmth of the colours inside.

The desks had been lined with gold and silver tinsel. They do not know who did it, they did assume it was Abby. She always seemed to get into the festive spirit.

Abby's lab was decorated with silver and red tinsel and various other decorations. She even put a Santa hat on Bert. She made the most effort out of all of them. Her pigtails tied up with red and green hair ties, for good measure.

Abby made frequent visits to the bullpen to share her excitement for the holiday, she spoke about hot roast dinners with mounds of potato and roast vegetables lining the table and the endless amount of food consumed, and the fantastic smell the food creates in the house. She spoke of the warmth from the fireplace and it's contrast to the white cold outside. She spoke about the never ending conversation at the table between relatives. She spoke about the unwrapping of the gifts, the excitement of not knowing the contents. She spoke about the piles of wrapping paper that inevitably filled the room. She spoke of a child's excitement of the holiday, she spoke of people having fun. She spoke of people understanding what Christmas is about.

Once she began she noticed the other team members (specifically Tim, Ziva and Tony) began to recall their Christmas and in Ziva's case, Hanukkah stories. She was able to get them to remember what Christmas is about. Though they still had no desire to go to home to their families. They felt more at home with their co-workers at NCIS. It also avoid the overcompensating nature of most of their families, or lack of compensation in some cases.

The end of the day brought excitement of a different kind to everyone in the building. Due to the less than pleasant weather conditions the power to the entire building had been cut. They were forced to stay in the building. Back up generators were attempted but weren't able to be started, there were people working on it though.

Most of the agents in the building had managed to get out before the power had cut out. It was a well known fact that Gibbs and his team stayed later than any one else in the building, so it was no surprise to anyone that they were the ones who were stuck.

When the room turned black there had been a mild panic, it was only natural. The panic was mostly fuelled by curiosity to know what happened. It wasn't long before someone found a flashlight and some light was available so they could at least see each other. Abby didn't want to be by herself in a dark lab, so she found some candles and brought them up to the squad room. She also managed to find some matches to light the candles. Pretty soon Tim, Tony, Ziva, Abby, Ducky, and Gibbs were sitting on the floor in the squad room. At first there was silence, since no one knew what to say. They had been told briefly that someone would be around the next day to restore the electricity, it was a federal agency after all.

"How are we supposed to sit here all night, like caged bats."

"Rats, Ziva."

"Whatever, my point is that we are locked in here, what are we supposed to do, isn't there a way we can get out?"

"Unfortunately there's not, Ziva." Gibbs replied calmly, "When the power cut out the building went into lock down mode, for fear something dangerous happened. Someone won't be here until morning. I don't like it either, but we don't have a choice. The doors can't be opened."

"Great." Tim added. He meant to say it to himself, but somehow he said it out loud. Good thing it was dark and no one could see his face redden slightly.

They eventually realised that they were going to have to stay here. Which isn't where they had hoped to be spending Christmas, but they didn't have a choice.

Abby's consensus was that they should make the most of it. She was sitting in between Gibbs and Tony, she was happy. Ziva was on the other side of Gibbs and Ducky next to her.

It was Ducky's idea to start telling stories, something for which he was famous. They mostly listened to the stories, but were relived when they ended. Eventually they started to get hungry, specifically Tony. He was complaining about the lack of pizza. Then he had the brilliant idea to go to the vending machine. To him the idea was brilliant. Not to anyone else. They reminded him that it was run by electricity, but he insisted he knew a way to get something out, and it would only require a good aim. He hit the machine in the right place and what he wanted fell into the compartment ready for him to pick up. He thought he was a genius.

He did bring back something for everyone else, he had some sense.

Soon they began to tell more Christmas stories, specifically about the food of Christmas. Compensating for their lack of real food.

It didn't help. Talk of roast meat and steaming vegetables filled their minds and they just got hungrier. Though their conversation was mostly positive, they began to talk about the year as a whole and different events that happened. Which included some less-than-positive moments.

--

Everyone is dressed in black, they stand around mourning the loss of one of their own. This should not have happened, not like this. Not to her. It isn't right. Everyone's minds were filled with thoughts; memories; moments of her, of their time together. They stood there, next to each other, not looking at anyone else, just the ground. It is too difficult to look into the eyes of their co-workers. She was one of them, they see her in the eyes of the others.

They are saddened, they react in different ways. Some hiding their emotion with a solemn silence, others showing their tears; their emotions; their feelings.

They listen. They remember. They never forget. They listen to stories about her told from their point's of view. They remember moments and memories they shared. They will never forget her.

Each person walks up to the coffin; placing a rose on top.

It is Tony who walks first, slowly approaching the coffin, and placing the rose in the centre.

Tim is next, he repeats the process.

It is Ziva now, she knew Jenny very well, this is hard for her, though she has witnessed many deaths - even of people close to her, this somehow affects her more. The relationship she had with this woman she will never have with another. She approaches the coffin and lays down her rose, softly speaking the words, "I will not forget you, Jenny." before she walks away.

Abby follows, she has tears running down her face, she chooses to show her grief. She carefully places her rose with the others and walks away.

Ducky. He knew Jenny very well. Though he sees death every day, he knows it is never easy to see someone you care about lose their life. He lays a rose on the coffin, he whispers, "Goodbye Jennifer. You will be missed, my dear." and walks away.

Gibbs is last. The others have walked a fair distance away from him, to give him some privacy. They know this is hardest on him. He does not know how to express what he feels. He is not a man of words, he is a man of actions. He stands for a moment in silence before placing his rose, which is different to the rest (the others are yellow, symbolising friendship and saying goodbye. Except for Abby's, hers is black. Though mostly representing death, she knows the black rose to have many meanings, some of which include meanings of courage and resistance, qualities which Jenny Shepard possessed.), his is red; reflecting the love and passion he shared for Jenny. After he placed the rose he nodded and softly spoke, "Goodbye Jen." And joined the others.

As they walk away, they choose not to speak. They do not need words, they need only the company of each other and their memories of her.

--

Abby grabbed Tony's flashlight from him and looked at the time. It was nearly 11 o'clock. Just as she was about to mention the hour they noticed the lights come one. Someone had clearly got the generators working. So everyone got up and assumed they were able to leave. They all left the building only to find there had been a mass build up of snow and the road had been blocked, so they would have to go back inside.

"This just keeps getting better." Tony stated as they walked back up to the bullpen.

Now that they could see where they were going they sat at their desks, it was more comfortable than the floor. Tony suggested they bring their chairs out from behind their desks, but the others told him it reminded them of his "campfire" days.

"And what was wrong with campfire, I happen to believe it was very useful."

"Yeah useful for people to hack into and screw with our investigation, DiNozzo."

"Thanks for the pleasant memory, boss." Tony stated, sarcastically.

Eventually everyone fell asleep in their seats.

December 25th, 2008

Everyone woke up pretty early, office chairs were not designed for sleeping - as they found out pretty quickly.

Abby was the first to speak, "Merry Christmas, guys."

"Merry Christmas." Everyone replied. They were still pretty sleepy, but their intent was sincere.

Tony spotted another agent walking past the bullpen, "Hey, can we leave yet?"

"I don't know, sir."

"Boss?"

"I'm not the weather man, DiNozzo."

"Sorry, boss."

"I say we go have a look." Abby said.

"It can't have cleared up in a few short hours can it?"

"How will we know if we don't look, Timmy?"

"Good point, I'm with Abby."

The others decided to stay inside where it was warm while Abby and Tim went to see if the road was clear enough for them to drive on. It looked like it was. They went back up to the others and told them.

Gibbs went to check with the Director, he okayed it. But told them to be careful and to drive slowly. Something which Gibbs and Ziva were new to.

Since they all knew no one had plans for Christmas Ziva invited them all over to her house for Christmas lunch. Even though they wouldn't have a proper one. It was the thought that counted. They all agreed.

They decided they would go to their own houses before going to Ziva's. They concluded that they should make an effort to change their clothes and shower. So the each went their own ways.

Everyone arrived at Ziva's a little later, except Gibbs she noticed.

"Tony, do you know where Gibbs is?"

"Nope, sorry Ziva."

"Hmm, it is curious. Perhaps I should go and check on him."

"He's not a child, Ziva."

She didn't listen to Tony and got in her car and drove to Gibbs' place.

She let herself in, he never locked his door.

She walked in, "Gibbs?" She asked.

"Down here, Ziva." His voice came from the basement.

"Of course," Ziva thought, "Where else would he be?"

"What are you doing?" She asked, as she walked down the stairs. He did not answer. As she got closer she could see him holding something, it was an old tin box.

He turned to Ziva and showed her the box. She immediately knew who's it was. She was sure it belonged to Kelly.

"What is that?" She asked. Though she knew the answer she wanted to start conversation. As there was an awkward feeling in the silence.

"It was Kelly's. You remember Maddie Tyler? She and Kelly buried this in the yard. I was just looking at it."

"Gibbs, you need to let go." Ziva said.

"It's not that easy, Ziva."

"I know, I understand. But if we spend our days in the past how can we get on with life. Just because she is not here doesn't mean she does not know of your love for her."

"It's Christmas, Christmas should be about family. I don't have a family." He spoke the last sentence almost in a whisper.

"You have your team. We are like your family, yes? We are here for you Gibbs. Do not underestimate us. Come back with me and enjoy what we have left of Christmas. No one should be sad on Christmas Day."

He placed the box back on the bench. He opened it and took out a photo of himself, Shannon and Kelly. "Merry Christmas, guys."

He then placed it back in the box and closed the lid. It was time for him to celebrate what was left of Christmas with his other family.

"Ziva," He said.

She turned to face him.

"Merry Christmas." She smiled and they walked out to the car, their destination was Ziva's house to celebrate Christmas with their family.

THE END.