AN: This has been a long time coming so I'll keep it short. Thank you to everyone who has reviewed/alerted and PM'd your support is very much appreciated, and helps give me a kick up the backside when I get stuck, so please continue to enjoy and review!
This chapter really gave me trouble!
It was a little after 7.00pm when Gibbs arrived home. Later than he had hoped, but the full de-briefing that Madame Director had wanted regarding their last case had held him up somewhat. The amount of cars in the driveway suggested that the team, san's Ducky who was unfortunately missing the evenings events due to an autopsy for Agent Sander's team, had had already arrived and the sounds that could be heard coming from inside indicated that the festivities had already began.
Walking through the door Gibbs ears were assaulted with a cacophony of noise coming from the lounge room. Securing his weapons in the safe Gibbs removed his jacket and went to investigate.
It was a site to behold and something if asked, Leroy Jethro Gibbs would have never expected to see. Timothy McGee, grown man, computer whiz, and highly trained federal agent was currently stalking around the Gibbs household with an old sheet over his head, arms outstretched in a mock menacing manor and creating a ruckus.
"Ooooooh…. Oooooh… I'm a ghooooost." The large white 'ghost' lumbered around the living room voice booming. "A biiiiig scary ghoooost…. Ooooh…"
"Ooooh… go's… Ooooh…" The little 'ghost' practically yelled as he trailed behind echoing the words and occasionally stumbling over his sheet covering which was dragging on the ground.
According to Kate and Ziva who were fondly watching the game, the pair of 'ghosts' had been loudly haunting Gibbs house for the past 20minutes, running, yelling, bumping and thumping their way around the downstairs area.
"You ghosts might want to cut out some eye holes befo…"
Gibbs didn't get to finish his sentence. McGee, surprised to hear his boss' voice turned around stumbling and crashed into the coffee table with a 'thud'. Less than a second later Tony crashed into an already unstable 'Gee' taking them both to the floor narrowly missing the corner of the coffee table and landing in a jumble of sheets and limbs. Tony giggled, the sheet still covering his little head as he climbed over McGee's body, completely oblivious to the fact he was being less than gentle with the agent below him – feet and knees impacting sensitive areas.
"Go' ya!" Tony said between his laughter, hugging the still sheet covered McGee tightly around the neck.
"Yeah Tony, you got me…. But…" McGee disentangled his arm reaching around and tickled the little boy's tummy eliciting another squeal of laughter "I got you now…. I win."
"My wi'…." Tony protested still giggling and squirming around as the gentle roughhousing started up again.
"Nope." Gibbs stood over the two and crouched down to uncover their heads "I win…" Tony's brilliant green eyes sparkled with humour and McGee looked sheepish.
"DA-DEE!" Tony yelled in excitement from where he was tangled, arms outstretched towards the older man. Gibbs removed the sheet wrapped around Tony's limbs and hoisted him into the air, drawing more riotous laughter from the little boy.
"You changing from elf lord to poltergeist now Tim?" Gibbs tried to hide a smile as he looked down at his agent sprawled on the floor.
"Ah… Sorry boss. I was, well we were… Ummm, sorr…"
Gibbs looked his agent in the eye. "What have I told ya about apologising?"
"Sign of weakness, I know. Sorr… Uhh yeah..." McGee continued to stumble over his words while attempting to untangle himself from the sheeted mess.
"Kept Tony outta trouble," Gibbs ruffled his son's hair "ya did good Tim." The young agents face flushed at the praise, although Gibbs was a hell-of a lot mellower at home than at the office open praise was still uncommon. With Tony securely on his hip Gibbs extended his hand to help his agent up from the floor.
"McGee, you make a very convincing ghost." Ziva smiled looking over at Kate. "I am sure Abby will agree, yes?"
McGee's eyes widened in horror his face flushing again as he saw the video camera clutched securely in the Mossad officer's hand – he was doomed, he gave it 24hours before everyone at N.C.I.S had a copy of McCasper the friendly ghost.
"Speaking of Abs where is she? Figured she would be the first one here." Gibbs enquired as he dangled Tony upside-down by his ankles.
"She went to go get something for her party tonight, she should be back any minute." Kate tickled Tony as he hung helplessly in daddy's clutches speaking louder so as to be heard over all the squeals. "Tony's costume is hanging up in his room. You better get him ready before Abby comes back she was already excited and that was before the three caff-pows she drank."
Gibbs laughed Trick-or-Treating with both Tony and Abby was shaping up to be interesting. "Come on little Ghost, lets go get ready." Gibbs righted his son and headed up the stairs.
There was a crispness to the air, a sure sign that fall had well and truly arrived. A deep luminescent glow had settled like a boundless shining blanket, tiny holes in the dark canvas twinkled and sparkled in the clarity of the night helping to illuminate the streets below. Porch lights were aglow, cobwebs with plastic spiders adorned doorways and garden paths were aligned with Jack-o-Lanterns, soft flickering light spilling from twisted ghoulish features. The sidewalks were alive with goblins, ghosts, witches and fairy princesses all clambering for their share of the candy haul, as door after door was visited and plastic pumpkins were filled with sweet treats. A cool gentle breeze rustled the dry fallen leaves sending them dancing and twirling about, carrying laughter, squeals of delight and the phrase of the evening…
"Trick or Treat!" Abby exclaimed practically bouncing on the balls of her feet as the door opened to reveal a middle-aged woman.
"Tic-a-mee" Tony mimicked softly, little arm snaked around and griping tightly to Abby's leg as he shyly peeked out from behind his protector.
Tony really had no idea what was going on and it had taken a little while to understand, but apparently if you said 'tic-a-mee' funny looking people would give you 'yummies' and that seemed like a pretty good game. It had taken half the street and a lot of coaxing from Gibbs before Tony would release his grip on his 'da-dee' and actually stand with Abby at a door. And, it had taken even longer before Tony had gotten over his shyness and uttered his first 'Tic-a-mee', which was met by 'awww's', comments of 'how adorable' and mountains of candy.
The woman who'd answered the door smiled at the new arrivals to her doorstep, and crouched down in front of the little boy speaking in a gentle manner. "Aren't you just the sweetest little puppy I have ever seen." Tony was really the perfect picture of cuteness he was dressed in a furry, golden-light-brown all-in-one, which had a little hood with floppy puppy ears, attached mittens that pulled over little hands to form paws, his nose had been painted black and he even a little tail. The entire thing was made from the softest materiel and the fur felt like silk, absolutely perfect for cuddling.
"No' puh-pee." Tony shyly replied his voice no more than a whisper as he glanced over to his daddy who was standing just of f the porch keeping a watchful eye out. "My Toh-nee."
The woman laughed, Abby grinned, and Gibbs gave a proud fond smile. "Well Tony, I'm Meredith. And I bet you would like a lollypop." Tony nodded his little head "Ess peese."
"Such a polite little guy. We better check with your mom first shall we?" The woman looked up at Abby seeking permission.
"Oh no. No, sorry I'm Abby. I'm not his mom I'm his…" friend, sister, cousin…. "Aunt. Well, not technically I guess, but probably the best description for it. Although I suppose I could also be..."
"Abbs…" Gibbs ended Abby's tirade before moving closer to the group addressing the woman - Meredith. "He's mine." Gibbs smiled as Tony latched onto his leg.
"Oh I'm sorry, I just…. Never mind..." Of course, Meredith thought. Now that she knew, it was actually quite obvious the way the older man had been watching so protectively and proudly over the little boy was a dead give a way. She shook her head fondly chuckling internally at her own joke (Halloween – Dead give away) as she grabbed a large handful of lollypops and placed them in the plastic pumpkin Abby was carrying, noticing the one held by Tony's dad was already full.
"What do you say Tony?" Gibbs spoke softly to his son.
"You are very welcome Tony, It was lovely to meet you. You all enjoy the rest of your night."
Meredith watched as the trio left, Tony holding his daddy's hand and slowly making his way down the steps. The little boy looked back around as he reached the bottom and waved "Buh-bye wady". Meredith's heart melted.
"Ok Bossman, we still have the other side of the street left. That's like fourteen houses. We really need a plan of attack…." Abby rambled as they continued to walk up the street. Gibbs was holding Tony's little hand tightly and the little boy was staring around in wide-eyed wonder at the various costumed people than wandered past, his son often squealing 'ook Da-dee' and excitedly pointing towards someone or something. The journey up the street had been longer than normal partially because Tony wanted to walk and his little legs could only carry him so fast. The other reason was Tony kept getting distracted by the Jack-o-Lanterns stopping at every single one to investigate. Which of course was accompanied with the obligatory warning from Gibbs 'Look with your eyes, not your hands Tony' and the resigned sigh of 'ahh Anthony…' when the little boy did indeed look with his hands and pulled something off one of them.
All in all despite Tony's early reluctance the night was going well.
Well at least until a rustle of bushes…
"RAAAAAAAH… MWAHAHA" Out jumped someone in a skeleton mask, closely followed by a hissing vampire. Abby let out a small squeal and Tony let out a yelp, followed by a wailing cry as the surprised little boy jumped in fright tripping over and grazing his little hands on the concrete sidewalk.
Gibbs picked Tony up off the ground and cuddled him tightly, looking at the grazed flesh, which was bleeding sluggishly. Tony's eyes were wide with fear, tears sliding down his cheeks as huge sobs wracked the small child "*hiccough* Daaa-Deee" Tony wailed "Oooowie…" Gibbs took the little hands and gave them a soft kiss, while he rubbed Tony's back trying to sooth his son.
The two mischief-makers – who looked to be about 16 - had taken off their masks and now stood looking apologetic before the scary ex-marine and the unhappy Abby.
"Sorry man, we didn't see the kid…" Skeleton boy spoke up his voice shaking with nerves, as he looked towards Gibbs whose glare was menacing.
"Yeah, we never would of…" The vampire's words were cut off as the Gibbs glare was turned up a notch. The young mans face taking on a pale hue that had nothing to do with the face paint he was wearing. Both boys looked at each other before bolting as fast as they could.
"Gibbs do you think maybe you could have been, you know a little less you?"
"Second 'B' Abs." Gibbs was still cradling Tony whispering comforting words into the little ear and dabbing very gently at the torn flesh with a tissue.
"We should get home, I'll need to clean up Tony's hands a bit. Plus I think Tony has enough candy to last a life time."
There was a wonderful aroma of cinnamon and apple spice wafting through the kitchen when the trio returned home. Kate and Ziva were busily preparing apple cider while McGee was handing out candy to the local Trick-or-Treaters.
"If two boy's dressed as a skeleton and a vampire come to the door Timmy, DON'T give them candy!"
"Abbs, do you have any idea how many skeleton's and vampires have come past here tonight...? " McGee left the question hanging as he looked from Abby to the still crying Tony. "What happened to Tony, he ok?"
"No he's not the poor baby…" Abby spoke as she herded Tim, Kate and Ziva into the lounge room to explain the story as Gibbs went into the kitchen with Tony.
Sitting Tony carefully on the kitchen counter Gibbs got a bowl of warm water placing it down gently, before grabbing some antiseptic and cotton buds from the first aid kit under the sink. Deciding things would be easier if he could hold on to Tony, Gibbs moved the items to the kitchen table and sat with the sobbing boy on his lap.
"Oooowie Da-dee." Tony continued mumbling through his tears, holding his hands gingerly.
"I know Tony, it'll be alright. Daddy will fix it, we'll make it all better."
Gibbs held Tony securely and carefully dabbed the grazes removing the blood and dirt from the small palm, the grazes were quite large and some were deep with tiny stones imbedded. Tony winced as the antiseptic stung painfully and began to bawl harder.
"No mo' Da-dee… Noooo." It broke Gibbs heart to see Tony in pain, but the wounds had to be cleansed properly. Sometimes as a parent you had to do things, things that your child may not like – injections, cleaning grazes, and making them take horrible tasting medicine sprang to mind – but these things had to be done for your child's own wellbeing. Suck it up marine Gibbs chastised himself.
It had taken a little while to thoroughly clean and bandage Tony's hands, but finally it was done. Tony's face was flushed his cheeks were wet, snot was pouring out of his nose and tears clung to his long eyelashes. Taking a damp cloth Gibbs cleaned up the little face and removed Tony's black painted-on nose.
"Good boy Tony. Such a big, brave boy." Tony nodded his little head and scrambled into his daddy's arms once again.
"And even without a costume Gibbs is the scariest thing you'll ever see on Halloween…" Abby had clearly finished her story, as Gibbs carried Tony into the lounge room.
"Poor little Tony, show me your hands precious boy." Kate asked quietly, Tony reluctantly held out the bandaged appendage. "Such a big brave boy, daddy must be so proud of you."
"Everyday." Was Gibbs heartfelt reply as he rubbed soothing circles on Tony's back. The team all looked at the wonderful picture Gibbs and Tony made they were two halves of the same whole, the completed each other.
Ziva in the mean time had brought out mugs of apple cider the wonderful warm spicy aroma adding to the comfortable feeling of the house.
"So how much candy did Tony get?" Ziva asked as she placed a mug in front of each member.
"Oh my god, you should have seen it. All Tony had to do was look adorable, with his big puppy eyes… I mean Tony is adorable anyway, but all dressed up and saying 'trick-or-treat' trust me that is the cutest thing you will ever hear."
Abby looked at Tony, "Tony, say Trick-or-Treat…. Come on show Aunty Ziva."
Tony shook his head and buried it in the crook of Gibbs neck.
"Go on Tony, please. Trick-or-Treat." Still silence… "Gibbs make him say it please its sooo sweet."
"Abbs, he'll say it if he wants to. I'm not gunna make him."
"Bet I can get him to say it." McGee who had been quietly watching the exchange spoke, crossing the room to where Gibbs and Tony sat.
"Yeah right Timmy, if…."
"Hey Tony. Trick-or-Treat…"
Tony looked up at McGee and smiled, putting his hands out for Tim to pick him up from where he was snuggled into Gibbs. "Tic-a-mee."
"Oh that is so gorgeous." Kate cooed from her spot on the couch.
McGee smiled in triumph as he took Tony back to his seat, sitting the small child on his lap and playing with the floppy ears of the costume, bopping Tony gently in the face with them as Tony smiled.
"He only said that for you Timmy, because you played Ghosts with him today."
"Hey! How do you know about that already….?" Abby smiled knowingly.
"None of this answered my question. How much candy did Tony get?" Ziva quickly cut in on the conversation preventing any argument.
"Oh sorry. People went crazy with the candy. Both pumpkins are full, I have candy stuffed down my… Uhhh never mind. But there is a load of it. " Abby was yammering excitedly again, her eyes were lighting up as she spoke "I'm going Trick-or-Treating with Tony every year Gibbs."
"That's fine Abs, but don't forget he may not be willing to share his haul as he gets older." Gibbs grinned at Abby's expression and settled back into the couch to listen to the newest debate of who was getting what out of Tony's haul this year.
The team had left an hour ago with promises from McGee that there would be three DVD's with pictures of the nights events delivered tomorrow. One for of course for Gibbs, the other two for both Ducky and Jack whom had sadly missed Tony's first Halloween. Gibbs was sitting on the floor playing some game with Tony he didn't quite understand – but apparently his son did - when the doorbell rang. Gibbs looked at the time little late for Trick-or-Treating Gibbs thought to himself as he went to open the door.
"Trick-or-Treat" Tobias Fornell sing-songed as the door was opened.
"Let me guess your costume is an FBI agent. How original." Gibbs sarcastically replied, "Aren't you a little old to be Trick-or-Treating Fornell."
Stepping back to let the other man inside, Gibbs led the way into the lounge room.
"That Jethro, all depends on the treat… And do I have a treat for you." Fornell moved to sit on one of the single armchairs across from the couch looking at Tony as he toddled over to say hello.
"He's getting big Jethro. He'd be what, a little over two now?" Gibbs nodded with a smile as Tony grabbed on to Fornell's pants tugging to get attention.
"Man… Man." Unless Tony knew someone well, everyone was either 'man' or 'wady'.
"Tic-a-mee!" Tony looked up with big green eyes.
"What's he saying?"
"Oh, sounded like tickle me." Tobias pulled out a small box of smarties. "Emily said to give these to Tony."
"I'm surprised she still likes him after he put her Barbie in the toilet."
Tobias shrugged "She got another one so she was happy. Can he have these now?"
Gibbs nodded and Tobias opened the little box handing it to Tony whose eyes lit up at the sight of the candy.
"Fank-ooo." Tony said eagerly taking a little blue smartie out of the box and stuffing it into his face, before grabbing another handfull. Gibbs picked Tony up off the floor and sat him on his lap so the little boy wouldn't run around and choke on his sweet treat.
"Uhhn, Doo, Fee!" Tony mumbled, mouth full of chocolate as he counted out the candies that were in his hand, the coloured candy dye rubbing off colouring fingertips and bandages in a multicoloured slobbery mess. Gibbs grinned and placed a kiss atop Tony's still costume hooded head.
"So Tobias, what's this 'treat' you have for me." Gibbs raised a sceptical eyebrow.
"We found the basta…" Tobias paused looking at Tony. "Uhhh bad guys… that killed Isabella…"
"What! Shi… Damn it Tobias it's been a year." Gibbs sat up straighter at that news, and Tony gave him a dirty look for disturbing his smartie eating. "Where?"
"Apparent murder suicide found them on an old property on the outskirts, been dead for at least 6 months traced them back to Isabella's murder."
"Murder suicide. You sure?"
"Forensics came back, no evidence to suggest otherwise. But I wouldn't rule out DiNozzo's involvement entirely. That information Isabella gave us, lets just say Senior had his fingers in more pies than we thought." Fornell looked thoughtfully for a moment before continuing. "We haven't exactly found DiNozzo yet, but Interpol's involved as well as a few of the other alphabet agency's. His activities go a lot deeper than we originally considered, he's a major national and international security risk. We've found quite a few of his aliases using Isabella's information and are shutting down associated bank accounts, alerting airports and other agencies, word has it he is not happy. We'll flush him out."
"And if he gets back here…" Gibbs barked, Tony held up a slightly slobbery smartie feeding it to his daddy, who took the treat from his sons little fingers with his mouth pretending to nibble the child's hands. The small action calming the older man immediately as he smiled contentedly.
"He won't! But, just as a precaution don't draw on any of the money Isabella left Tony. Were still not sure how deep this goes and we're not willing to take the chance of Senior finding your boy."
"Don't worry neither am I." Tobias saw in Gibbs icy stare the deep protectiveness, raw fury, determination and something darker, something that chilled the other man to the bone and he new for a certainty Gibbs would rip DiNozzo limb from limb with his bare hands if he ever found the man. No one would ever come near his child.
Tony was Gibbs life, and he would do anything and everything to protect him from what was coming….
AN: Duhn...Duhn... Uh-Ohh the first hint something is coming for Tony and Gibbs, a not good something actually a terrible something... It wont happen immediately but is going to be happening reasonably soon...
Ok so this was officially the hardest chapter for me to write so far... I haven't got a two year old, I haven't been around little kiddies for years as all my family are in their teens now. AAAANNND... I live in Australia so Halloween isn't really celebrated over here so I was officially flying completely blind. I have no idea how Halloween is celebrated or even if the reactions of a two (and a bit - the bit is important) year old are correct, so if I offended anyone I am really sorry. I thought i'd give it a go especially since this story is set in America and Halloween seems to be pretty big . Thank you for everyones suggestions on Tony's costume I went for a puppy because seriously Tony's two it wont be long before he refuses to be cutesy so now was his chance. But there were a lot of fantastic ideas... and yes we will see Tony as a mini Gibbs N.C.I.S agent sometime!
I hope you all enjoyed the chapter, the next one should be easier to write so should be able to update a lot quicker. Thank you for all your patience, and please drop me a review, Im going to need a lot of encouragement with this chapter...
All those celebrating Halloween - Enjoy and have fun with the 'tic-a-mee'.
xoxo xoxo love to everyone!