Disclaimer: No, not mine. JD would not have happened! The song in this is Love Changes Everything by Sarah Brightman, also not mine.
Masquerade by Pandora of Ithilien
Jenny shook her head as she opened the cardboard box. It was a tradition she and her sister had started when their jobs had ensured that they wouldn't be able to live close to one another. They sent care packages on holidays.
This was the Halloween package, which consisted of assorted candies and a Halloween costume – which she never wore. Jenny shook her head as she pulled out the dress – a black, Renaissance style dress and a black domino mask, both embroidered with emerald green thread. Alex never got the hint when it came to the costume – or about sending the package to the house instead of to the office.
Still, at least she sent candy corn. The orange and white candies had been a weakness of Jenny's since she was a little girl. Alex hated them, just like Jenny hated Tootsie Rolls, so as kids, they'd always traded candy corn for Tootsie Rolls. These days it was an old joke between them.
"Ooh, where'd that come from?" said an excited voice. Jenny looked up to see Abby Sciuto walking through her door and sitting down in front of the desk, her eyes bright with curiosity.
"My sister. We send holiday care packages to each other, considering that since most of the continental U.S. is between us, we don't spend many holidays together."
"Oh, that's so sweet! My family doesn't do anything like that. I mean we send e-cards, because they're always cool, and I go home for Christmas when we don't have a case, and I always did for Mardi Gras too, but…"
"Abby, Abby, take a breath," Jenny teased lightly. "So, what can I do for you?"
"Well, I just came up here to ask you about the company Halloween party that they always have me organize, since I'm the Halloween expert, of course. And I wanted you to come, which means you'll have somewhere to wear that really nice costume to, and the mask fits perfectly because it's going to be a masquerade ball theme."
"Abby, I can't."
"But it's a party for the whole agency and almost everyone already said yes! It wouldn't be an NCIS party without you!"
"I have so much paperwork…" the redhead said weakly, her reluctance fading in the face of the bubbly Goth's enthusiasm.
Abby frowned. " 'What the world really needs is more love and less paperwork'," she said sternly.
"Who said that?" Jenny wanted to know.
"I can't remember, but they're right. Come on, Jenny, please?" And the pleading look was just too much.
"All right, all right," she said with a laugh. "At least I can tell Alex I finally got some use out of a costume."
Jethro went down to Abby's lab, wondering why, exactly, Abby needed him to come down. They didn't have a case, so he knew she didn't have results for him, and she sounded like her usual energetic self, so he doubted there was an ex he'd have to take a baseball bat to.
"Abs, what's going on?" he asked.
"Well, Gibbs, I've got everyone's responses about my party except for you. Are you coming?"
"No, Abby, I don't do parties."
"But Gibbs! Everyone's coming, even the Director!"
Jenny was coming? That was a surprise. "This is a costume party, right?"
"Yeah. Come on Gibbs, please!"
He had to admit, the idea of seeing Jenny – and his team too, but mostly Jenny – in costume was appealing. "All right, Abby. I'll come for a little while."
"Thanks, Gibbs!" She gave him one of her bone-crushing hugs. "You need a costume and a mask, but don't worry, I'll take care of that for you."
"Abs, I don't think – " He wasn't sure he wanted to let Abby dress him up.
"Don't worry, my silver fox. It's a masquerade ball, so nothing too crazy. I promise. Trust me, I'll make sure it all works out."
As Gibbs left, Abby let an evil smile spread across her face. Oh yes, things would work out. She would have to send Alex a thank-you card – or maybe an e-card. Abby didn't know which she'd wind up doing, she was just glad she'd found an unexpected ally. Because even though Mommy and Daddy didn't know it, they were going to be together by midnight on Halloween, or her name wasn't Abby Sciuto.
Halloween arrived, and Abby was glad to see that it was bright and sunny. People didn't usually associate Halloween with that type of weather, but since Halloween always made her even more cheerful than usual, she always liked it when the weather matched her mood.
After work she headed over to Gibbs' house. She'd filled the team in on her plan and Ziva had promised to make sure that the Director showed up, but Abby trusted no one but herself to make sure that Gibbs did. Besides, she had his costume. She'd spent a while tracking it down, but it was exactly what she wanted.
Gibbs was sanding his boat when he heard footsteps on his basement stairs. He could tell that whoever it was had heels on, but it wasn't Jenny. He suspected that it was Abby, and he was proven right when she appeared.
Shockingly, she wasn't wearing black. She was wearing white, as a matter of fact, and white angel wings. She also had a metallic blue domino mask in her hand that he guessed was the final part to her costume. In her other hand was a clothing box that she handed to him. "Here you go, el jefe. It should be the right size, and I was careful to make sure that it wasn't too out there because I know how you are."
"Thanks, Abs," he said, even though he really didn't want to put the costume on. He didn't want to hurt Abby's feelings, and he had agreed to this. So he took the box upstairs and dressed quickly before driving himself and Abby to the hall she and the handful of other NCIS employees involved in planning this thing had rented.
When they got to the party, McGee and Tony were the only members of the team there.
McGee was wearing a red shirt and pants, along with a red half-mask with horns on the top. "Told you that outfit would work, Timmy!" Abby declared, grinning.
Tony's smirk – well, the half that could be seen – was clear. "Yeah, Probie as the Devil and you as an angel. Nice, Abby."
"Says the Phantom of the Opera," McGee said with a scowl. "What, was it the only movie you could find with a masked character who wasn't a superhero?"
"Actually, ladies dig the Phantom, because he's so tragic and romantic. Makes me even more of a chick magnet than usual."
McGee was about to make another retort when Gibbs took matters into his own hands and head-slapped them both.
Ducky came over, dressed in a simple black suit, but his white mask made up for that. It was one of the masks typically seen to signify drama – the happy one – and it seemed a little odd on his face, especially as he had it on a stick in the old-fashioned style, probably because of his glasses. Jimmy Palmer and Michelle Lee came over as well. Lee was in a harem girl outfit, which fit the criteria only because the veil that covered the lower half of her face counted as a mask. Palmer's costume followed the same Persian theme, though he wore a deep brown half-mask to match his tan costume.
There were only two people missing, and their arrival was signified by Tony's jaw dropping. Ziva was wearing a silver dress with a skirt that didn't quite hit the knee and matching boots that covered half her shins. A silver cat mask completed the outfit. Jenny's dress was black with green embroidery, and her domino mask matched perfectly. The dress looked like a Renaissance-era dress – or it would have, except that the skirt fell straight down as opposed to flaring out, and the little detail of the slit on the left side that went to her knee.
Except for the bits of green, the only color to her was her flaming red hair. Otherwise she was all black cloth and creamy white skin, and Gibbs decided then and there that it was worth coming just to have this picture in his mind. It also explained his costume. Abby had him in unrelieved black, including his own half-mask, but she'd added a cape to the costume, and the cape's lining was the same deep green as the designs on Jenny's outfit. And if he knew Abby, which he did, she'd done it for a reason.
The party was well in session before he had the chance to speak to her. "Abby saw your costume?" he asked in an undertone.
"Yeah. Apparently she wants us to match," Jenny said with a faint smile. She studied his costume. Black shirt and pants, very simple, but something about the cut made them look old-fashioned enough to match her own dress. And the cape added just a little drama, something she was sure Abby hadn't been able to resist. "She did good with you. Very dashing."
"And if every woman in the 1500s dressed like that, they'd have ruled the world."
"So you like the dress?" she said playfully, toying with one of the jack-o-lantern centerpieces.
"Haven't decided yet."
She rolled her eyes, though the mask ruined the effect. "Do you always have to say that?"
He barely heard her. Somehow, some people from other agencies – like one of the FBI idiots Fornell dragged around – had gotten themselves invited, and they, along with some of the more idiotic men of NCIS, were eyeing Jenny in a way he could sympathize with, but wasn't about to tolerate. There were too many of them for glaring to be effective, so he'd have to warn them off another way.
"Dance?" he asked, standing and holding out his hand to her.
Jenny blinked, startled. "You never dance."
"I'm making an exception."
She was going to ask why, but decided not to. The song changed as they reached the floor, turning to a slow song, and she was sure he was going to change his mind, but he didn't. Instead he drew her close to him, and they danced like they had years ago.
It took a while before the words of the song percolated through the haze in her brain caused by being so close to him again after so long, but when it did, it left her heart in her throat.
Love changes everything
Brings you glory
Brings you shame
Nothing in the world will ever be the same
Oh God. It had been hard enough to make herself remember that this was now and not nine years ago, but with a song that felt like it was written for her… She couldn't handle this. She yanked herself away from him and headed outside, breathing deeply in hopes of calming down. She tugged the mask off, feeling the cool air against her skin.
Love bursts in and suddenly
All our wisdom disappears
Love makes fools of everyone
All the rules we make are broken
Love changes everything
Live or perish in its flame
Love will never, never let you be the same
She could still hear it, though, because the door was slightly ajar. The song just kept matching her feelings, her memories of Paris, Serbia… They should never have happened, it had been foolish, downright reckless, and yet it had been so right. It had never been the same since she'd left. She'd never managed to find the same happiness again, and she suspected he hadn't either.
"Jen?" The song had bothered Jethro too, but it had clearly affected her more. She turned and looked right into his worried blue eyes, noting vaguely that he'd taken his mask off as well.
"Sorry about that, Jethro, I just got a bit dizzy for a minute there."
"Do I have to remind you of your tell again?"
"Can't you just accept it for once?"
"No, not when you're this upset. Jenny, what's wrong?"
"Like hell there isn't. I'm just trying to help."
"You can't!" she said, finally unable to hold it in any longer. "There's nothing you can do, or I can do, or anyone! It's too late, and it's my fault in the first place, so would you please just go away because it's bad enough without me having to deal with you right in front of me!"
She turned away and though she was trying not to make any noise, he knew she was crying. Over the years they'd spent together, he'd found several ways to comfort her on the rare occasions she broke down enough to cry, but he was trying for one in particular.
He put his hands on her shoulders, turning her to face him. She moved like she was going to pull back, but his grip tightened slightly before he finally did what he'd wanted to do since she'd turned around that day in MTAC, kissing her until she forgot everything but the two of them.
Abby had discreetly followed Gibbs, afraid that her plan had gone horribly wrong, but when she saw the kiss, a grin broke out on her face, one that only spread when the parents never came back in. It looked like her plan had worked after all.
A/N: I'm not sure how I feel about this, but I'm out of ideas. For anyone who didn't like the amount of Abby, well, I felt that it's a Halloween fic, and any NCIS Halloween fic essentially requires a lot of Abby.