Oh Come All Ye Faithful
For Pam; thank you so much for running Secret Santa 2009 this year.
Disclaimer: All names and trademarks recognised as "NCIS" do not belong to me; I've just borrowed the characters for my own purposes.
Genres: Friendship, Fluff, slight!Drama
Warnings: Very, very vague reference to 7x10 Faith.
Summary: Tim and Tony are trapped after a cave-in on Christmas Eve.
"Probie! Stop moving; you'll only make it worse," Tony berated, planting both his hands on the shoulders of his partner to stop him moving around. "I wasn't joking when I said I think you broke your ankle."
Tim muttered something unintelligible, but stopped moving around. It was near impossible to find a position that wouldn't exacerbate Tony's "professional" diagnosis of a broken ankle. "You try having the broken leg," he grumbled.
"Ankle, McFibber, not leg. And I've done that, thank you very much. Senior year at high school. Don't want to do that again anytime soon." Tony winced at the memory. He frowned at Tim and berated again, "Stop moving. I am trying to put a splint on it."
Tim resisted the urge to childishly poke out his tongue. He'd already been through this once too, though that was a leg back then, and it hurt like hell. This time was no exception. Oh why did the tunnel they were gathering evidence from have to collapse the day before Christmas?
"Are you sure you can do this?" Tim asked warily. He glanced down and watched Tony poke and prod his ankle.
"I can do this quite fine," Tony huffed, fishing into one of their discarded backpacks. "Now shut up and let me do my thing."
"Your thing? Tony, you've been holding the entire conversation with the rock on my left," Tim pointed out. "You've got concussion." There was a small gash on Tony's head that was spilling blood.
"Well, thanks for pointing that out, McObvious," Tony replied sarcastically. "I did, after all, whack my head on the ground after you squished me." He finally pulled a wooden ruler from one of the backpacks.
"I saved your life; you could be a little more grateful," Tim remarked, wincing at the pain in his ankle. He was glad that it was only his ankle. And other than Tony's concussion, both agents were relatively unharmed. "And why do you have a ruler?"
Tony shrugged. "It was in the backpack. Now hold still." He started to wrap the ruler around the lower part of Tim's leg, securing it in place with one of the bandages from the First Aid kit. "And I didn't need saving."
Tim rolled his eyes. "Tony, you would have been crushed the debris," he said plainly, knowing just how close both agents had been to being buried alive. He smirked slightly. "Face it, you owe me."
"Uh, how about no," Tony replied as he used a sticky plaster to secure the bandage in place. He sat back. "I just saved your foot; that makes us even."
"My foot was never in danger," Tim pointed out. "You were. Can't you just be grateful for a change?"
"I am grateful," Tony grumbled. "Although, if I have to listen to you go on and on about it then I think I'll take my chances with the rubble."
"Haha, funny," Tim replied sarcastically. "But thanks, by the way. It feels better."
Tony grinned proudly. "I still have it, even with my messed up head." He paused and then looked confused. "Why are there two of you?"
Tim couldn't help himself as he let out a laugh. "That's the concussion talking." Now that he was suitably more comfortable, Tim stretched his arm and reached for the backpack with the First Aid kit. He rummaged through it and pulled out a large, rectangular swab. He held it out to Tony. "Here, for your head."
Tony took it with a lopsided smile and pressed it to the cut. It wasn't bleeding badly, but it was bleeding enough it make a bit of a mess. "Thanks, Probie," he replied. Then he looked down and groaned. "That was my best shirt."
"Maybe Santa will bring you another if you've been a good little agent," Tim shrugged. He slid himself backwards and settled against one of the rocky walls. Tony was propped up against the other and the only light in the small opening was coming from one of their standard issue flashlights sitting between the two agents.
Tony harrumphed. "I wish," he grumbled. "It took me two months of saving and then some for this baby." He looked at his ruined shirt again and sighed pitifully. "What a waste." He shook his head sadly.
"It's a shirt, Tony, get over it," Tim sighed.
"It's not just a shirt, McGeek," Tony frowned, glaring at him. "It's a one of a kind, tailored . . ."
"Alright, alright." Tim threw his hands into the air. "Enough with the shirt already. Can't we talk about something else?"
"Like what, Probie?" Tony responded bitterly. "Like the fact we're stuck here in the freezing cold on Christmas Eve?"
"It's not that cold down here," Tim noted. And it wasn't, that was probably the only good thing going for them right now; they weren't about to freeze to death. "And Gibbs and Ziva will get to us soon. It won't be for all of Christmas Eve."
Tony glanced down at his watch which was thankfully still working after their tumble. "It's already late afternoon, McGee." He sighed and looked downcast. "I should be out having Christmas Eve drinks with a bunch of hot co-eds, not stuck here."
"And you don't think I have somewhere better to be?" Tim snapped. He didn't mean too, but the pain and being trapped and everything was finally getting to him.
"No." Tim deflated and exhaled slowly. "I was going home for Christmas to see mom, dad and Sarah but they've all come down with the flu and told me not to bother. Why risk getting sick when all they're gonna do is stay in bed on Christmas Day, they told me."
"Aww, man, that sucks," Tony said, genuinely sympathetic. "If it makes you feel any better, I'm not doing anything either."
"What?" Tim replied, smiling slightly. "No hot co-eds to warm the fire?"
Tony shrugged. "They all have their own families," he replied and it almost sounded as though he was a little bitter. "All I've got is my dad and he's not exactly the "ho ho, let's all join hands and sing merry Christmas carols" kind of person. Come to think of it, I don't think I've celebrated Christmas with family since I finished college."
Tony actually looked a little sad and Tim actually felt sorry for him. For as long as he could remember, Christmas had always been a total family affair. "I'm sorry, Tony."
"I'm not," he shrugged, "not really. My dad was never around at Christmas even when I was a kid; it got worse after my mom died. I'm used to it being just me. Or me and some of the domestic help."
"Still, Christmas time is for family," Tim remarked, "and friends. Surely there's somewhere you could go?"
"Sure, barge in on the Christmas dinner of a frat brother I haven't seen since starting at NCIS. Sounds like a great plan, Probie," Tony snapped. "Nah, I'm okay with my microwavable turkey, pre-bought veggies and a showing of the greatest Christmas movie ever, It's A Wonderful Life."
"A microwavable turkey? My mom would have a heart attack," Tim commented, trying to ignore the pain in his ankle. And at least now Tony appeared to be somewhat looking at him while he talked. "Mom prides herself on her turkey; it's been the centrepiece of our Christmas dinner for as long as I can remember."
"Juanita, our cook for most of my childhood before dad fired her, used to do a good turkey," Tony recalled. "And amazing gingerbread. Man, I miss it. Nothing has ever come close to matching one of Juanita's houses."
"Mom was never big on the baking of Christmas cookies," Tim mentioned, now that they were on the topic. "No idea why, really. Me and Sarah would make them with dad, though the only cookie recipe he knew was sugar cookies. So every year we'd make a big batch and use Christmas shaped cookie cutters, and then give them out as presents. It was great fun."
"I bet," Tony remarked. "I used to help Juanita decorate the gingerbread houses, though she'd never let me touch the masterpiece, just the littler ones."
He pulled the cloth swab from his head and held it out as though it was diseased. He touched the cut gingerly. "Don't think it's bleeding anymore, though there are still two of you. How's the ankle?"
Tim shrugged. "Manageable. Some painkillers wouldn't go astray, mind you."
"I hear ya," Tony agreed. He cocked his head to the side and asked, "Did I really say my fingers are finging after our encounter with Corporal Werth?"
Tim nodded solemnly. "I'm afraid so."
"Ah." Tony dropped it after that. He leaned back and rested his head against the rocky wall. He could kill for a good nap. But that was bad, wasn't it. To distract himself, he asked Tim,
"So, what else happened at the McGees at Christmas time? Let me guess. You'd all wear funny knitted Christmas jumpers and carol around the Christmas tree?"
Tim liked Tony's idea of distraction. The less he thought about it, the less his ankle hurt. "No, not quite," Tim corrected. "Only Sarah would wear something Christmassy. And we didn't sing carols around the tree; we sang along with the radio as we prepared the food."
"Way to be the Martha Stewart of Christmas, McSanta," Tony said, though it was said in good-natured jest rather than spitefulness.
Tim rolled his eyes. "What about you, then? I've confessed my Christmas secrets. It's only fair you have a turn."
Tony shrugged. "Not much to tell; fancy Christmas trees put up by the maids, fairy lights by the gardeners. Presents bought by assistants and only really for show. Good times." Tony grinned ironically and fell silent.
"There must have been something you liked about Christmas as a kid," Tim pressed.
"Juanita's gingerbread houses were good," Tony said finally, echoing his earlier words. "And me and mom used to put up a Christmas tree in my bedroom on the first of December every year before she died – one of the few things we actually did together." He grinned at Tim, though it looked rather forced. "And the expensive presents always went down a treat."
"Still materialistic as ever," Tim joked, hoping to lighten the situation a little bit. He didn't know how much longer the flashlight would last. After that, they'd be plunged into darkness.
Tony shrugged and said nothing, with the pair lapsing into silence. Tim's ankle started to throb and he really, really hoped that Gibbs and Ziva would have noticed that they were missing and would be on their way to save them. Even if he couldn't spend Christmas with his family, Tim didn't exactly want to spend it trapped with Tony either.
"How long do you think they'll be?" Tony asked suddenly, quietly. The dull ache behind his eyes was getting steadily worse and he could see that Tim's ankle was starting to play up again.
Tim shrugged tiredly. "I'm hoping it's sooner rather than later."
"Yeah," Tony agreed distantly. "You don't think they'll forget . . ."
He was cut off by Tim who held up his hand to get the other man to shut up. "Do you hear that?" he asked Tony. "It sounds like voices?"
Tony nodded rapidly, but then regretted it as his head began to swarm. "Ouch," he said meekly. "Bad idea. But yes, I hear it too. I bet its Gibbs on his white horse with his trusty sidekick Ziva."
"Let's hope so," Tim agreed, hoping like hell it was Gibbs and Ziva come to rescue them, as embarrassing as it sounded.
And it was.
Tony winced as his doorbell sounded late Christmas morning. He clutched the side of his head and cursed whoever thought it would be a good idea to visit him on Christmas Day. The hospital had sent him home yesterday after making sure he wasn't about to collapse and die on them any time soon. Tony had left with painkillers for the headache while Tim had left with his second pair of crutches in his lifetime; his ankle had been broken after all.
"I'm coming," Tony grumbled as the bell rang again. He fiddled with the safety chain and lock before pulling the door open, ready to have a go at whoever was standing on his doorstep. Tony did not expect the person looking back at him.
"Merry Christmas," Tim said brightly as he stood in the doorway to Tony's apartment. He had his crutches, but he was also carrying a bag of take-out and one of those reusable fabric shopping bags. "Are you gonna invite me in?"
"McGee? What are you doing here?" Tony sounded rather surprised.
"In case you've forgotten, Tony, it's Christmas," Tim remarked. "And I've brought food. So will you let me in? It's not easy juggling all this and crutches."
"Oh. Right." Tony stepped back from the door, allowing Tim access. As he stepped into the apartment, Tony took the bags off Tim and being his nosey self, peeked inside. "What's all this?" he asked.
"Christmas dinner," Tim replied as he hobbled into Tony's apartment. "I know it's not quite the same as the real deal, but surely take-out turkey cooked by a chef is a bit better than something microwaved by you."
"Quite probably," Tony agreed.
"There's some roast veggies too," Tim added as he made his way over to one of Tony's couches and sat down heavily. He propped his crutches against the couch as well.
"And what's in this . . . oh." Tony was rendered temporarily speechless as he pulled an elaborate gingerbread house from the other bag.
Tim shrugged. "I'm guessing it's not the same as Juanita's, but I thought it looked pretty cool."
"I, ah, well . . ." Tony didn't quite know what to say. He was seriously touched by the gesture Tim had made. "Um, well, I didn't get anything for you. Ziva said no presents this year."
"Tony," Tim sighed, "did you really think all that food was for you? And it's not really a Christmas present; think of it as a glad-we're-alive present." He shrugged again. "Besides, I don't have anyone else to have Christmas dinner with and neither do you."
"I . . . thanks," Tony said finally. He disappeared into the kitchen and Tim swore he could see Tony blushing slightly. When he returned, the take-out bag was gone, but he was still clutching the gingerbread house.
Silently, Tony walked over to the small Christmas tree he had and placed the house delicately on a small table next to it. He gazed at it for a moment, then reached over and clicked on the tree's fairy lights. The tree wasn't elaborate, but it was pretty and festive and that was enough.
"I'll serve the food, shall I," Tony announced to Tim, clearing his throat. "Seeing as you're an invalid and all."
Tim tried to get up and move towards the dining table, but Tony shook his head. "Nah. Let's play frat brothers for a change. I'll dish up the food and we can eat it on the couch while we watch It's A Wonderful Life. It's what I normally do. It starts at twelve. "
"Suit yourself." Tim sat down and reached for the television remote. He turned the TV on and flicked through the channels until he found the station that would be showing the classic Christmas movie.
"But here." Tony came back into the lounge room carrying two champagne glasses of . . . soda? He handed one to Tim who looked at it strangely. Tony shrugged. "Thought it was a good idea we didn't mix alcohol with the painkillers."
"Ahem, yes." Tony cleared his throat and raised his glass. "Here's hoping I never get trapped in a tunnel with you again, Christmas Eve or not."
"Here, here," Tim echoed, raising his own glass. "Once is quite enough."
"And seriously." Tony turned to Tim with a soft smile. "Thank you. Merry Christmas, Probie, erm, Tim."
Tim smiled back as the pair of agents clinked their glasses together. "Merry Christmas, Tony."