Title: Hardly a Silent Night
Rating: K+ for mild frightening situations and kissing ;)
Pairing: Tabby. :)
Summary: Christmas Eve finds Tony home recuperating and generally feeling sorry for himself. Lucky for him, Abs is there to keep him company. Unlucky for him, someone else—decidedly unfriendly—tries to share his holiday.
A/N: This was written for the NFA Secret Santa Fic Exchange 2009 for three-steps. She requested a Christmas story, if possible that wasn't all fluff, but had a bit of drama and romance. One of the couples she suggested was Tabby and I decided to give them a try. I hope you enjoy the story, as well.
As the rest of the world scurries around enjoying their white Christmas, I am on complete bed rest, recovering from a work-related injury, being babysat by a friend, all on the day before Christmas.
This is going to be the worst Christmas ever.
I try to reposition myself on the couch, but even the slightest movement takes effort. My palms get sweaty, my heart kicks into overdrive, and my breathing becomes rapid. Stupid gunshot, stupid shooter. Now, I appreciate medical leave as much as the next guy, but right before Christmas, come on! I had to cancel my trip to Florida—no beach babes or sunny weather for me. Instead I'm stuck here in DC, with below freezing temperatures, snow, and a pain in my side. I'm feeling pretty sorry for myself, but I think I deserve a little pity.
My heart rate's gone back to normal, so I crack my eyes open to survey the damage done to my apartment. Abby adores Christmas and as soon as she realized I would be stuck in my apartment over Christmas, she volunteered to help me. I believe her exact words were: "Alone at Christmas! And hurt! You poor baby! I'll take care of you!" I tried to get her to change her mind; I feel bad that she won't be with her family for Christmas. She promises she won't leave my side. I have to admit I like the attention. She drove me home from the hospital, made me comfortable, and set about tiptoeing around my apartment, decking it out for the holidays. The last time I woke up—still slightly groggy and dazed—she was in the kitchen cooking. Which is kind of a scary concept. I hope her concoctions don't give me food poisoning to contend with in addition to a gunshot.
My apartment looks like a holiday decor store blew up in it. There's green and gold tinsel everywhere. Decorative snowflakes hang from the ceiling. A live Christmas tree—absolutely covered in ornaments, multi-colored blinking lights, and even more tinsel—adorns the farthest corner. How Abby had managed to move that monster there was beyond me. There are two stockings on the mantlepiece, which, upon closer inspection I notice have been personalized by Abby. They're both Santa Claus red, but next to Abby's name are skulls and next to mine are guns and bullets. Both decorations are definitely in the Christmas spirit. I can hear Christmas carols wafting from the kitchen, which kind of takes me by surprise. I sort of picture Abby's Christmas music as more heavy metal than Sinatra and Bong Crosby, which is what it sounds like from here.
I am dismayed by the fact that my eyes seem to want to close all of their own accord. And...the pain pills must be wearing off, because I am starting to hurt, more than I was when I first woke up, I mean. I am also terribly thirsty. I am going to have to call Abby. I hate not being able to fend for myself.
"Abby!" I croak, frowning, because my voice sounds kind of like Anakin Skywalker's must have before he got the whole ventilator thing.
I can hear a slight clatter in the kitchen and her running towards me. "Coming, Tony! Don't move a muscle!"
I relax onto the cushion and practice my most pathetic face.
"It hurts, Abs."
"Oh, Tony!" She hugs me and I wince instinctively. At the best of times, Abby-hugs hurt and when you're injured, it's murder.
"You can't have any more pain medicine yet." She says sadly, even her perky ponytails drooping with the pronouncement. "You should try and get some sleep."
"Water then, please? For a dieing man..."
"Don't say that! I was so worried about you! You could have died!" Abby crushes me in another hug.
"Sorry," I croak. "Water, please?"
Abby runs off to get me an ice cold glass. Water never tasted so good...
I relax back onto the couch with a grateful sigh. "Now that I'm awake, you can turn off my Christmas music and put on something you like."
"Oh, good! I didn't want to wake you up, but if I had to listen to that any longer, I'd go crazy!"
"Hey, it's Sinatra and Crosby! It can't get any better than that!"
She just gives me the look and I meekly concede the point. I can't stifle a groan as I try and reposition myself.
The smug look evaporates into one filled with concern. She looks at me sadly for a moment before her face brightens.
"How about you watch a movie? I know you love movies. It might help keep your mind off the pain." She begins to root through my DVD collection, muttering to herself. "Ah ha! Perfect!" She waves It's a Wonderful Life. The DiNozzo Christmas tradition! It'll be like a normal Christmas."
I'm glad there will be something normal this Christmas.
After popping the DVD in DVD player, Abby spreads out a sleeping bag on the floor.
"Abs, you don't have to sit on the floor. There's room up here with me."
"Snuggling's good." She flashes me a smile, which I return.
I move over on the couch. It's a bit of a tight fit, but she doesn't seem to mind. Abby settles down beside me, snuggling up against me until her cheek rests on my shoulder. I smile as I adjust my arm around her.
As the movie opening credits begin to roll, I feel the need to apologize. This is not how she should have to spend her Christmas Eve.
"I'm sorry I ruined your Christmas, Abs. You shouldn't have to worry about babysitting me."
"Tony!" Abby exclaimed indignantly. "You didn't ruin it. I like spending it with you." She gives me her heartwarming smile and I have to smile back.
As George Bailey meets up with Clarence the Angel—funny, I always pictured angels a little more...white...and glowy...with halos...and harps—my eyes begin to droop.
Something wakes me. I can't say what exactly. As I try and focus on the land of the living, the clock on the mantlepiece strikes two. There's a heartbeat of silence and I am about to relax. Then, glass shatters. Every muscle in my body steels itself for a flight, only to realize I can't actually move. Abby still lies against me, undisturbed. I need to protect her. The knuckles of my hand turn white as they clutch her shoulder. I need my gun.
And...I have no idea where it is. Abby probably put him somewhere. It could even be back in my desk at NCIS, placed there by a well-meaning McGee after my shooting.
I can hear someone moving through my kitchen. I am going to have to wake Abby up. I need to get the upper hand on the intruder and I can't do that alone. I keep one hand gently over Abby's mouth and with the other shake her shoulder with as much effort as I can muster.
"Abs," I hiss, "Wake up. Abs!"
She jerks awake, nearly knocking us both off the couch. Her eyes widen and before she can struggle, I lean close and whisper--"Abby, I think someone just broke in."
She turns toward me and grips my shoulders, fear in her eyes. I lift my hand off her mouth so she can speak.
"Tony, what are we going to do?! You're in no shape...I can't!"
I try to shake the cobwebs out of my head and formulate a plan. I weigh my options. I can't fight—no gun, no strength. Escape is our only option. Could we make it to the front door before the intruder made it through the kitchen door? I quickly dismiss the plan. I wonder if we could barricade ourselves in my room. We might be able to hold off long enough for help to get here. I hate to run, but sometimes, you have to live to fight another day. And I know when I'm...beaten. Or rather, how to avoid getting beaten.
"Abby, we need to get to my bedroom. We can regroup from there. Can you do that?"
Abby nods. She sits up, pulling me up with her.
"We have to keep low." I whisper, bringing my free hand down on her head. We slide off the couch and are about to crawl across the floor when the light goes on. Abby gasps quietly and we both freeze. I blink rapidly, trying to help my eyes adjust.
"Lie down flat! Hands on your head! Slowly! No sudden moves or I'll shoot!"
"Do as he says, Abs." I say quietly as I lower myself to the floor. Note to self: Have carpets steamed ASAP. I can feel Abby trembling next to me as she follows orders.
I can hear the man move across the room and come to stand over us. Without lifting my head, I ask him what he wants.
Instead of answering, he grabs Abby by the arm. She cries out in surprise.
"Let go of her! If you hurt her--"
"Get up! Or I'll shoot her."
I drag myself to my feet and try to stand steadily.
He tightens his grip on Abby and waves his hand to the couch. "Over there!"
As I walk to the couch, I keep my eyes on him and Abby. This gives me a chance to look at his face. I recognize him. Drake Morris. He was arrested a week ago, after killing an elderly woman during a botched robbery. He was high then and he sounds like he's in withdrawal now. He has evidently escaped prison—how I don't know. None of these facts are adding up to a very good situation.
This has to be some kind of joke—of all the places this guy breaks into, he has to pick a NCIS agent's house? Of all NCIS agents, he has to pick me—injured, defenseless, and with Abby here. And it's Christmas!
I settle myself on the couch, hating the fact that doing so took more effort out of me then I care to admit. I hope Morris can't tell. His hands are shaking, which is making me nervous. His finger is a little too close to the trigger for comfort. One violent jerk and he could end Abby's life. I make eye contact with Abby. She's terrified. I need a plan. It's one guy—only one guy, even if I'm severely incapacitated and even though he has a gun on my Abby. Even if he's a homicidal maniac who has just escaped from prison. Think. I just need to think. I can save us both. What would Gibbs do?
"What do you want?" Abby hisses. "I don't think you know who he is or who his boss is..."
Morris is distracted by this. It's now or never. Summoning all of my strength, I seize the lamp from the side table and in one fluid motion, rise off the couch and swing it into contact with his skull. As I bring it down, I tackle Abby, knocking us both down as the gun hits the floor and goes off. I push myself off of Abby and turn back towards the man now sprawled on my floor, blood soaking into the carpet. Definitely going to need that steam cleaning...
"You ok?" Abby nods shakily. I try to stand, but my legs have no strength. Abby's face blurs and spots dance before my eyes. I pitch forward and Abby catches me before I fall to the floor.
Abby manages to get us both to our feet. She supports me as I stumble back over to the couch.
"Guess...I'm out of shape..." I puff.
Abby's reluctant to let go of me—and I'm reluctant to let her—but we need to call the cops. And Gibbs.
I sit on the couch while Abby calls first the local police and then our fearless leader. I am still shaking, several minutes, later, even with Abby next to me and blankets covering us. The exertion drained me of what little energy I had and on top of that I'm coming off of the adrenaline high of the situation. Abby's shaking, too. We cling to eachother for dear life. Everyone knows that this is the point in the movie when the hero and heroine realize that they love the other and can't live without one another. I mentally scoff at the silliness of that comparison. This isn't like that, at all. Still, as I stroke Abby's back to calm her, I am overcome by emotion.
"You're my best friend, Abs."
"I know! We're like friends with benefits, without the benefits!"
That's Abby for you—she doesn't have to make sense.
I don't know how to explain what I mean. I don't have all that many friends, in the truest deepest sense of the word. I have the team, of course. And though I love them like family and would die for any of them, Abs—she's different. She loves me for me and would defend me to the ends of the earth, even when I've been—and I hate to admit it—a jerk. I don't think I can put into words all that she means to me. I'm getting sappy. I hate sappiness. And I don't know what to say to Abby; I only know that I need to explain how I feel.
"Tony?" Abby leans back and lifts my head to look me in the eye.
She doesn't say anything for a moment. She just looks at me. Usually you can't get Abby to stop talking for anything, but now I sense that she knows what I want to say and behind those pretty eyes of hers, she's processing it.
Her lips move close to mine.
I know the path we're embarking down could change everything—or nothing. I don't want to think about the consequences. I only know I love her and she loves me. We don't need fancy words or anguished declarations. For now, we let our bodies do the talking.
I close the last inch of distance and kiss her.