A/N: I'm not going to call it a Thanksgiving Treat, but a Thanksgiving Wishbone! :] I hope everyone has a delightful Thanksgiving--eat lots, and don't leave home tomorrow (Black Friday, you know!) For those of you who aren't American--enjoy the story; there's a small background of the Holiday included.
Leroy Jethro Gibbs was not quite sure how his boat had ended up as the table of choice for Thanksgiving dinner, but he was not particularly pleased about it.
He also didn't remember volunteering his house for the site of Thanksgiving dinner.
He had arrived home from work towards seven, unable to find a reason to stay at the office late on yet another holiday, only to discover the entire team in his basement, using his beloved boat as the platform for all of the traditional Thanksgiving "fixins".
He'd been brooding at them from the shadows for almost an hour, wondering where they got the nerve to pull a stunt like this. It had been a hard week for everyone, and he'd been looking forward to a quite night of bourbon and boat building. Alone. Right now there was more friendly noise and laughter in his basement than there had been in a long time, and, surprisingly, he was trying hard not to enjoy it.
He tuned into Ziva and Tony's loud argument by the stairs, where she stood holding a genuine cornucopia filled with vegetables of all kind.
"Where did you even get that?" Tony demanded in disbelief.
"At a store! It is a tradition of American Thanksgiving, yes? Why are you acting as if I am in the wrong?"
"It's a stereotype, Zee-vah," Tony said, rolling his eyes, "For little kids coloring pages at school!"
"I think you are wrong."
"I like your cornucopia, Ziva!" Abby said with a huge smile, bouncing over to her with her twin pigtails swinging cheerfully.
Ziva smiled primly.
"Thank you, Abby. I very much like your Native American head dress," Ziva complimented, her brow furrowing. "Though I did think Halloween was the holiday Americans dressed up on…perhaps I was mistaken?"
"See what you did Abby? You confused out little Israeli—" Tony broke off with a yelp as Ziva's fist collided with his abdomen.
McGee snickered loudly from the boat, where he was heaping a plate full of stuffing.
Abby stuck her tongue out at Tony and handed Ziva a paper plate, winking at her.
"You've got it right, Ziva," she said encouragingly. "I am honoring the lovely Native Americans of our country," she explained. "And I like feathers!" she added in a whisper.
Ziva laughed and moved towards the boat, examining the expanse of food with bright eyes.
"Too bad you didn't bring the probie dressed as a pilgrim," Tony mocked, smirking as he bounded over to get a plate himself, "Then we would have had a true representation of the original Thanksgiving."
"Hey boss, you going to eat anything?" Tony asked through a mouthful of food, peering between the ribs of the boat.
"TONY! No eating until we cut the turkey!" Abby shouted, smacking his arm.
Gibbs glared at him, his arms crossed across his chest menacingly.
"Er…I don't think he's forgiven us yet," Tony mumbled, bowing his head.
"He will," Abby said brightly, "As soon as the bourbon gets here!"
"Who is bringing bourbon?" Ziva asked, tasting something tentatively.
"Jennifer is," Ducky supplied, meeting Gibbs' eyes knowingly.
He looked up sharply, squinting a little in the light.
"I thought she wasn't coming," McGee said in confusion.
"She wasn't," Abby confirmed, scuttling over to Gibbs with a big smile and a plate, "Until I bribed her with my second cousin Bartholomew's special cranberry sauce. Apparently, she has a weakness for—"
"She loves cranberry sauce," Jethro said gruffly.
Abby beamed and nodded happily, handing the plate off to him. Jethro allowed her a tiny smile. Trust Abby to manipulate Jen into taking off from work to enjoy a holiday. His disgruntlement was alleviated a little by the memories suddenly brought to mind of a past Thanksgiving and his exploits with Jenny and cranberry sauce.
He smirked without realizing it, and Abby lifted an eyebrow at him.
"You'll cut the turkey, right, el jefe?" she asked softly.
"Abbs," he growled.
"Please?" she puckered her lips at him.
He gave her a stern look, only to receive big, swimming eyes in return and an even sadder look. Soft laughter reached his ears from the platform of the stairs and he didn't even have to look to know whose it was; he'd know her teasing laughter anywhere.
"You won't turn that down now, will you Jethro?" Jenny asked sweetly, tilting her head when he looked at her with narrow eyes. She smirked knowingly and he scowled, turning back to Abby. He nodded gruffly and she clapped excitedly, throwing her arms around him.
"We were waiting for you, Director," McGee said politely, greeting Jenny as she set her bag down gently on a stool and came forward, her heels clicking softly on the concrete. She folded her arms in front of her.
"I apologize," she said guiltily, "I—"
"Had paperwork to do," Jethro supplied smartly.
"Yes," she said pointedly, giving him a cold look. She looked away from his glare and smiled at Ziva. Jethro felt Ducky look between them and he let it go, biting his tongue.
Tony handed him a knife and he stood in front of the turkey Ducky had supplied, gripping the handle tightly. He ignored the dull throb of pain in his chest that the family holidays always brought and waited.
"For the benefit of our Israeli friend," Ducky said gently, "A brief history. Thanksgiving commemorates the day in 1621 when Pilgrims and Native Americans came together in Plymouth to share food and festivities in the midst of a hard winter. The brief peace was helped along by the Indian Squanto and the Wampanoag Tribe, who taught the Pilgrims how to live off the land to prevent them from starving. It is celebrated as a secular Holiday," Ducky paused, smiling as he looked around at all of his friends, "It is a time to celebrate friends, family, and the good fortune we have," his gentle gaze seemed to rest on everyone, "A time to give thanks and a time to share."
"And to eat," Tony prompted impatiently.
"Shhhh!" Ziva shushed him.
Gibbs reached over and slapped the closest one in the back of the head.
"Ow!" protested McGee.
"Share the wealth," Gibbs ordered, deadpan. McGee obediently and gladly passed on the head-slap to DiNozzo, who clamped his mouth shut with a vicious glare at the computer genius.
"This would be a prime example of what Thanksgiving is not about, my dear," Ducky said to Ziva, his eyes twinkling.
"Thank you for your history, Ducky," Ziva said gratefully. "I understand: Abby is dressed as Squancho?"
"Squanto," McGee corrected.
"And no, Abby is just weird," Tony said.
This time, he was whacked in the back of the head by Squanto herself. Abby gave him a prim look and clasped her hands, turning to Gibbs.
"Sir Gibbs!" she cried dramatically, giving him a theatrical bow. "Will you do the honors?" she prompted, gesturing at the turkey. Jenny laughed at the gallantry and Jethro rolled his eyes, obliging her with the first slice of turkey.
He did not think the action deserved applause, but he received it. Exuberantly.
"YES!" Tony cried, punching his fist into the air. He started piling mountains of food onto his plate, eating as he went.
"Abby?" Jenny asked, arching an eyebrow as she looked at the Goth expectantly.
"Its right next to Ziva's cornucopia, Jenny—and it's the best cranberry sauce you'll ever taste!"
Jenny smirked and avoided running into McGee as she slipped past Gibbs to the other side of the boat in search of the promised cranberry sauce.
Jethro watched them like a hawk as they made their way around his boat, determined to massacre them if any particle of food touched the wood. Tony's plate was dangerously close to over-flowing into a mess all over the place.
He grumbled under his breath as Ziva and DiNozzo started to bicker again when he teased her about the cornucopia. It was going to be a long Thanksgiving evening.
Hours later, the atmosphere was considerably more relaxed. The laughter was louder, the talking joyful, and the company content—all of which was heavily influenced by the alcohol. Jen's welcome bottle of Jack Daniels wasn't the only alcohol brought to the gathering.
He hadn't thought he would enjoy this a bit when he'd walked in on it happening several hours ago. He still refused to acknowledge this was in anyway pleasant, not when his boat had food on it, Tony had knocked over three jars of nuts and bolts, and Ducky had treated them all to at least five stories of raucous Thanksgivings past.
It was bearable. He'd allowed them all a smile or two of approval or amusement, particularly when it became clear that Abby's second cousin's special cranberry sauce included hard liqueur in the recipe.
He'd detected the smell of Vodka in seconds, unable to stand the taste of cranberry sauce himself, and he was enjoying not telling Jenny about it. She never did do well with Vodka…
"You see, one time mother set out to dress a turkey—this was when she was getting on in years, mind you—and I arrived in the kitchen to find the dear bird sporting a bonnet! Mother was attempting to force the turkey into an old sailor outfit of mine—"
"To dress a turkey does not mean to put clothes on it?" Ziva asked curiously.
Tony burst into laughter at her question. McGee snorted into his drink, afraid enough of the Mossad Officer not to laugh at her outright.
"Oh, no my dear, it means to fix it up with the stuffing and—well, you understand the idea—anyhow, I tried to explain to her—"
Ducky's latest story brought peals of laughter at his mother's antics, and brought a small smirk to Jethro's face as he sat perched on a stool a little ways back from the boat, watching them all studiously, a mason jar of bourbon in his hand.
"Guys!" Abby called, jumping up excitedly near the boat. She held something in her hand. "I found the wishbone!"
Immediately, Tony and McGee began a mad scramble towards the excitable forensic scientist, shoving each other to reach her first. Tony stumbled into Jen and knocked her to the side, sending her into Jethro's knees.
He steadied her without a word with his hand on her lower back, and glared at Tony's head.
"Whoa," Jenny said with a giggle, swiveling around and taking his hand. She gave him a mock stern look. "Hands, mister," she admonished, sternly.
Jethro gave her an odd look.
"How much cranberry sauce have you had?" he asked pointedly, trying to give her a hint.
"None of you business," Jenny whispered, putting her finger on his nose with a wink.
He stared at her. It might be time to tell her there was vodka in it…
"Ouch! Tony, get off—"
"It's mine, McGee! I need the luck this year—"
"You cheated—Abby, give it to me, I'll share my luck with you—"
"Stop acting like children!" Abby demanded, guarding the desired wishbone from them and glaring worthy of Jethro.
"I am confused," Ziva stated loudly.
"Oh, what a shocking occurrence," Tony said sarcastically.
"What is the big deal about the 'wishbone'?" Ziva asked, narrowing her sharp eyes at DiNozzo.
"Ah," Ducky said, his eyes brightening, "Well, the origins of the tradition—"
"Ducky," Jethro barked gruffly, raising an eyebrow. "DiNozzo's going to pee himself if you give the long version."
"Oh," Ducky said, nodding, "I see. The wishbone, Ziva, brings luck to whoever pulls the largest piece of it. One person holds each end and they pull."
"That is silly," Ziva pronounced.
"You're only saying that because you're jealous you don't get the luck!" Tony announced pettily.
"Tony!" Abby gasped, looking affronted. "That was mean! Ziva needs all the luck she can get, dealing with you."
Abby smirked as Tony gave an outraged gasp.
"Ziva," she said nicely, holding out the wishbone, "You get to have one half. You're a wishbone virgin."
Jenny snickered, and took Jethro's Mason jar from him as she watched the proceedings with bright eyes. He glared at her when she returned a now lipstick-marked glass.
"Pick someone, Ziva," Abby urged.
"ME!" shouted Tony, waving his hand.
"Ducky?" Ziva offered, as if she'd not heard Tony at all.
"Oh, no thank you, dear. I've pulled plenty in my time."
Ziva looked around, a prim look in her dark eyes. She ignored both McGee and Tony, who were trying to bribe her into sharing with one of them.
"I'll do your paperwork for a month."
"Berry Mango Madness, every morning for a week Ziva, come on!"
"I choose Gibbs," Ziva announced, holding out the wishbone to him with a smirk.
He glared at her. He shook his head slowly.
"Oh, please, Gibbs?" pleaded Abby, squealing. "Participate in the festivities!"
"No," he growled.
"Loosen up you old grouch," Jenny ordered loudly, raising an eyebrow at him. Tony's eyebrows up and Abby giggled. Jethro had no doubt they could tell Jenny was less than sober. "You loved the wishbone part in Serbia," Jenny said.
Jethro blinked at her. He didn't think she realized what she was talking about, and he wished to know exactly how much vodka was in the cranberry sauce. He distinctly remembered the wishbone in Serbia being a metaphor.
Jenny seemed oblivious to her innuendo.
Ziva continued to offer the wishbone generously.
Rolling his eyes, Jethro took hold of one end and made sure they knew he was humoring them and their childish behavior. He'd never known a group of adults to get so excited over the Holiday.
"On my mark," Abby said.
"One," she started, pausing, "Two,"
"Three," Jenny interrupted quickly, and Ziva's tuned hearing and quick reflexes reacted instantly; she snapped off most of the wishbone and left Jethro with nothing more than a nub.
Abby erupted into cheers and Ziva straightened, smiling as she held up her half.
"Not fair," Jethro growled at Jenny, unheard by the others. Abby shoved Tony over to Ziva, and he congratulated her with a sulky look.
Jethro watched as the chatter elevated and the laughter started again, all of them suddenly trying to talk over the other.
"Ziva deserves a toast!" Abby cried, and snatched a bottle of wine off of the boat. McGee passed around glasses, the talking and laughing continuing.
Jethro kept a sharp eye on them, glaring characteristically, watching the smiles and the fun. He was determined to continue brooding and refused to condone any type of merrymaking in his basement that involved the desecration of the boat.
"Cheers!" came the shout, and in the short silence when they all took a congratulatory drink, Ducky began the bright tale of the wishbone's origins.
Jethro's observing glare was interrupted when Jenny suddenly stumbled into his lap, no longer a match for her not-quite-vodka proof heels. She wound a leg around one of his and nestled her head into his chest, giggling suggestively.
He raised an eyebrow.
"Jethro," she whispered, in a conspiratorial, serious voice.
He grunted at her in response. Jenny laid an elegant, warm hand on his thigh and ran her hand back and forth, putting her mouth close to his ear.
"Is that a wishbone in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?" she pursed seductively.
Leroy Jethro Gibbs smirked.
Spiked cranberry sauce, indeed.