A/N: This is just a bit of silly fun. I'm finally on holidays, so I have the energy and mental capacity to actually put flesh on the story outline bones I have on my hard drive. But I'm easing myself into it with something short and fluffy.
Abby had started the tradition. No surprises there—she'd always been the most family-oriented member of the group, sweet as pie but with the ability to lay a month-long guilt trip with just a quiver of her bright red bottom lip. It had started not long after the summer that Tony had been sent out to sea, Ziva had been sent back to Israel, and McGee had been sent down to the basement. The first time had been a celebration of everyone returning the their rightful places in one piece. A Thursday night spent at the first bar that everyone could agree on, getting well and truly sloshed, as Ducky put it.
It didn't matter that the happiness was artificial, Abby had declared after their third round. All that mattered was that the whole family was there and that they could take the time to appreciate what they had. The comment had brought silence to the table as the significance of her words sank in. The summer had been an excellent reminder to all of them about how good they really had it together. For a moment, things had started to get awkward and sad, until Tony (of course, Tony) had looked to Gibbs and had delivered a deadpan-perfect, "You know you're the wind beneath my wings, right?"
Somewhere around round five or six, Abby had decided that the get-together in the bar should be a weekly thing. Family Night, she called it, and the others had been both drunk and happy enough to agree. Gibbs, Ducky and even Palmer had all turned up for the first few weeks, but eventually their attendance had dropped off to one week out of every four or five.
As for the others, missing a week due to anything other than urgent work matters was completely unacceptable. Abby had made it quite clear to them on the first night that Gibbs hadn't shown up that if they had any thoughts about bailing on her at any time, they could expect her to track them down and drag their asses back to the bar, come hell, high water, or half-naked dates. And they all believed her.
Of course, after a few weeks together none of them really wanted to skip Family Night. It was a tradition they could all get behind, even when they were fighting amongst themselves. Great beer and (mostly) great conversation went a long way, especially during those weeks when they'd worked an emotionally draining case.
This week had been one of those weeks. They'd worked a case involving a kidnapped child and murdered mother that had hit Gibbs hard, which meant that Tony had needed to silently and covertly pick up the extra load of work that Gibbs wasn't getting to. And because Tony was more stressed out, Ziva was more stressed out. Which meant that Abby was doing double-duty as forensic scientist and partner counsellor. And McGee was stuck in the middle of everyone's issues, just trying to hold his tongue until the case was solved and everyone returned to normal.
The case had wrapped up that morning, and Abby had thought it to be a saving grace that it was a Thursday—Family Night. But Gibbs was in no mood to drink (with other people), Ziva had been pulled in to work on a situation with the Middle East desk, and McGee had almost skipped out the door at lunchtime to fly to a computer forensics conference in Phoenix.
That left Abby and Tony. He'd gone down to her lab that afternoon, intending to suggest that they put Family Night off for a week. He was tired and wanted to head over to Ziva's place to wait for her to get home so he could fix the damage he'd done that week. But Abby had taken one look at his face, planted her hands on her hips and given him a stern look Tony thought she'd probably learned from her nun friends.
"Anthony DiNozzo," she'd begun, in that tone of voice that sent shivers down his spine.
She hadn't needed to say more. Tony got the message, loud and clear. He'd sighed, and then hung his head as he turned around and left the lab without ever uttering a word. Family Night was on.
Even if she wasn't going to give him a pass to not attend the night's activities, that didn't mean that Abby didn't understand his reluctance. She knew he was tired, she knew he was emotionally drained, she knew he was mostly pouty about Ziva not being around tonight. So she decided that she wasn't going to give him a chance to think about it. She'd take him out for a night on the town that he wouldn't forget.
And she had. They'd gone from bar to bar, had sung three duets, ate pancake-covered, deep fried sausages that Tony had been eyeing off for a year (and which gave him chest pains he was still experiencing four hours later) and joined a flashmob of people dressed as characters from The Faraway Tree as they held an impromptu dance party on a busy downtown intersection.
This last activity was what now saw them sitting on hard plastic chairs under unforgiving fluorescent lights in a Metro police station. The police had come to break up the party, Moonface had refused to move on when he was told to, and before anyone knew exactly what was happening, the Angry Pixie had thrown a punch and the scene descended into a brawl that in no way befitted the majesty of an Enid Blyton novel.
As soon as Tony saw the flashing blue and red, he'd spun around and grabbed Abby's arm. "It's the fuzz!" he'd cried, and they both started running for the sidewalk. But their escape route had been blocked by a rookie cop desperate to prove himself, and when he'd aimed his gun at Tony's chest, Abby had promptly vomited six shots of tequila, five beers and half a deep fried, pancake-covered sausage on his feet. There was no way they were talking their way out of it.
That was until they got to the station, and a detective Tony was buddies with happened to be walking through the booking room. Dave Pincelli had listened to Tony's careful recount of the incident with barely disguised mirth, and accepted his solemn oath (well, as solemn as a guy with a potpourri of alcohol in his system could be) that they weren't involved in the brawl, had just gotten caught up with the crowd, and were honestly on their way home after a few too many. While the rest of the Faraway Tree posse was booked, Tony and Abby had their cuffs removed and were left in the booking room to sit quietly and think about who they wanted to come pick them up. Pincelli made it clear that the two of them would not be leaving the station until a sober, responsible adult came to pick them up (if such a person existed in their circle of friends).
"Okay," Abby said, trying to be responsible as her hand shook around the cup of water she'd been sipping at. "Who're we gonna call?"
She looked over to Tony, not realising what she'd said until after she'd said it, and they both burst into hysterical giggles at the same time.
They laughed like it was the funniest thing either of them had ever heard. And, admittedly, their memories were only about an hour long at that moment. But Tony managed to suck it up, do some deep breathing, and then look at her with forced seriousness.
"Okay, but seriously, Bill Murray is not going to come all the way down here to pick us up."
Abby nodded. "Your buddy said it had to be someone responsible. And the most responsible person we know is obviously Gibbs."
Tony scrunched his face up. "The guy who's prob'ly in his basement right now as drunk as we are?" He shook his head a dozen times, making his vision swim. "Ugh, no, we can't call him. He'll bean me with a shovel and then bury me in his backyard if he finds out I let you get arrested. What about Ducky?"
Abby raised her wrist to eye level and opened her eyes as wide as they could go before narrowing them, trying to focus on her watch. "No, it's…Tony, it's…somewhere past one in the morning. I can't read the rest of the numbers right now, but the first one is definitely a one and there is no way we can ask sweet old Ducky to get out of bed and come get us. That's evil."
The news of the hour surprised Tony so much he had to grab her wrist and pull it to his own face. "How is it one already? We said we'd be home by midnight. Didn't we say we'd be home by midnight? I'm pretty sure we said we'd be home by midnight."
Abby sighed and dropped her head back against the wall with a thunk. "Tony…you can't possibly expect me to remember anything we talked about tonight. Or anything we did. That's why we took photos. Let's just call McGee and—"
"No!" Tony cried, and grabbed her hand tightly. "You can't do that to me. You can't give him that power over me. Pleeeease, Abby! If you love me at all, you won't bring McGoo into this."
Abby's laugh came out as a snort. "Well, that just leaves Palmer or Ziva. And if you call Palmer, his boy crush on you will get even bigger."
Tony shook his head dismissively. "No, that's fine! We'll call Ziva. She'll definitely come down and sort it out."
"She'll be an-gry," Abby sang, warningly.
"She's already angry with me," Tony said, pulling out his cell phone. "And I'm already going to make it up to her. This can't make things that much worse."
"Okay. But I can't promise that I'll have the energy tonight to fight her off if she tries to kill you."
He shoved his phone into her hand. "She won't. I'll be totally charming and I'll smile a lot. It'll be fine."
"So…why are you giving your phone to me?"
Tony made a crazy face. "I'm not calling her. I'm terrified of her right now."
Abby sighed and scrolled through Tony's contacts list until she got to Ziva's name and hit send. The phone only rang twice before Ziva answered.
"Tony, I'm not coming to Family Night," she said on a sigh. "It's too late. Tell Abby I'm sorry, but—"
"Hi Zi-vaaa!" Abby interrupted, singing with as much perkiness as she could muster. "Don't worry about Family Night. It's kind of over now."
Beside her, Tony winked and gave her the thumbs up. She was doing great.
"Oh, Abby," Ziva said, sounding surprised for a moment before her non-alcohol impaired brain worked out what was going on. "Let me guess: you two need a ride home."
"Um, yeahhhh," Abby drew out, injecting a wince into her voice. "I'm so, so sorry, but would that be too much of a pain?"
"It is fine, Abby," Ziva replied. "I am still at work, but about to leave. I can pick you up on the way."
Abby perked up even more. "Oh! That's great. Tony, she's still at work, so she doesn't even have to get out of her PJs to come get us."
Tony clutched his chest in relief and sagged. "Thank God."
"Where are you?" Ziva asked, and Abby could have sworn she sounded amused.
"Ummm, Metro police station," Abby said carefully, then squeezed her eyes shut as she waited for some yelling.
"Police station?" Ziva repeated, confused for a moment before her voice got harder. "What happened, Abby? Are you alright? Is Tony alright?"
Abby looked at Tony, who was now looking at her from between his fingers. "Yeah, he's okay. We're both okay. There was just a slight…thing with Moonface, and then I barfed on this probie's shoes. But we're not under arrest!"
There was a beat of silence. "I thought McGee was in Phoenix."
Abby made a face, not following the conversation. "He is."
"Then which probie—" Ziva started, but cut herself off. "It doesn't matter. Metro police station?"
"Yes. Thank you so much, Ziva," Abby gushed.
"I will be there soon."
"We love you!" Abby sang into the phone, then hung up and passed the phone back to Tony. "She'll be here soon. Start practicing being charming."
Man, I love flashmobs. They just make me smile, you know?