A/N: Hey, folks, here's a late Christmas one-shot for you. It actually is part of the Family series (yes, I know, very creative name – anyone with something better, let me know.) I've posted the reading order on my homepage for those of you who are interested. So, please, enjoy my very first one-shot!
** * ** * ** * **
The bullpen was quiet. After a long and hectic week things had finally petered off. It was a paperwork day and, for once, the rest of the team – including Tony – seemed to be quietly focusing on their own projects.
"McGee." The Boss's harsh voice startled him.
"Uh, yeah, Boss?"
The Boss went back to squinting at his computer screen.
Still not risking movement, Tim glanced at Ziva out of the corner of his eye. He thought maybe she raised a confused eyebrow, but it was hard to tell.
Two minutes later McGee sighed and went back to booking his flight home for the holidays.
A muffled snort came from Tony's direction as McGee turned to face his boss, frowning.
"I said stop." There was a hint of steel in Gibbs' voice that made him nervous. He was obviously missing something important.
"Um…stop what Boss?"
"Go see Abby."
McGee stifled a groan. Gibbs had been acting funny all day – well, not anything really drastic like singing Christmas carols or prancing around in a Santa costume.
He'd just been slightly more irritable than usual. Even Ziva admitted to having noticed when McGee asked her about it. They'd both written it off as something that Tony had done. The thing was, Tony hadn't been acting funny himself – that is to say, he hadn't shown any of his typical responses to Gibbs' ire.
In fact, he seemed almost cheerful.
Giving up on his flight, Tim quickly scrambled to the elevator.
"You too, Ziva."
Ziva protested, but Tim didn't stop to listen. It was Friday and he was too tired to mess with an angry boss. Besides, it was not like he was being sent to the dungeon or anything. If he hadn't been in the middle of booking his flight, he'd probably be more than happy to be sent down to Abby's lab for no apparent reason.
Maybe Abby would let him use one of her computers.
** * ** * ** * **
Tony watched in amusement as Gibbs bullied Ziva into visiting Abby for no apparent reason and without offering any sort of justification.
After about three minutes, Ziva huffed off toward the elevator.
Tony grinned and – once he was sure Ziva was out of hearing range – burst out into borderline hysterical laughter.
His self control (or lack thereof) was rewarded with a pencil between the eyes.
"Ow," he said, rubbing his forehead. He tried to frown at Gibbs, but laughter started bubbling up the back of his throat.
He found it much easier to control when Gibbs picked up his stapler and held it menacingly. Tony didn't think Gibbs would actually throw it, but didn't feel like risking it.
"Sorry, Boss, but you've got to admit, it's kinda funny."
His boss muttered something unintelligible.
Tony stood up and strolled over to Gibbs' desk, smirking at the other man's discomfiture.
"You couldn't do it."
"DiNozzo." Tony decided he could get away with ignoring that warning.
"You know, Abby isn't going to do it for you." Ignoring another threatening growl, DiNozzo leaned up against Gibbs' desk like he owned it. "She's just going to send them back up here – and then you'll have to deal with a frustrated McGeek and volatile Ziva."
"Been reading the dictionary again, DiNozzo?"
"Hey! I know what volatile means!" Tony let his affronted expression melt away. "Besides, you're not gonna change the subject that easily."
"You know you gonna have to do it sooner or later."
"I know, DiNozzo." Gibbs leveled a very scary glare at his agent and Tony decided he'd pushed just far enough.
Straightening, he casually – so as to not give the appearance of being cowed – walked back to his own desk, risking another smug grin and a small chuckle.
After the way Gibbs had forced Tony to deal with Ziva and the Probie, he didn't feel too badly about the Boss's current predicament.
In fact, he found it damn funny.
** * ** * ** * **
"Oh, hey Tim." Abby turned away from one of her machines and greeted McGee cheerfully over the loud music. "Go away."
"Leave. You know, vamoose," Abby clarified kindly, turning back to her work.
"I understood you, Abby, but why?"
"I'm not talking to you."
McGee felt like bashing his head against the wall. He might as well – he felt a headache building anyway.
"What did I do?" he asked with some trepidation. Now he had to get Abby to forgive him for whatever he'd done to make her angry so that she could explain what he'd done to make Gibbs angry.
And possibly explain why Tony was in a good mood.
"Oh, you didn't do anything, Timmy."
Oh – well that made absolutely no sense. He pondered his next move – and came up blank.
Luckily, a rather tense Ziva chose that moment to storm into Abby's lab.
Wait a minute – did he just think luckily? He looked around for a wall.
"Abby." Ziva bit the name out through clenched teeth – it was hard to notice over the music, though.
"Hi, Ziva!" Again, the Goth's greeting was remarkably enthusiastic. "Go away. Oh, and if you don't mind, take Tim with you."
Ziva blinked and McGee had to chortle a bit at her reaction. Maybe Tony had transferred some of his inappropriate gallows humor to the smarter agent. McGee shuddered at the thought of becoming like Tony.
"Abby?" McGee snorted. It was amusing watching his earlier reaction on Ziva.
"Go. Away." Abby spun around, brandishing her pointer finger and narrowing her eyes warningly. "You can tell Gibbs I'm not handling this."
"But what –" McGee spluttered.
Ziva took a threatening step forward. She was clear fed up with all the runaround. Abby didn't back down, though.
"If you try to threaten me, I'll tell Tony. And Gibbs. I'll tell Gibbs and Tony." Ziva took another step forward. "And Tony will do something awful to you and Gibbs will let it slide."
Ziva's shoulders visibly slumped. McGee was already halfway to the door.
It was time to regroup.
** * ** * ** * **
Once she and McGee were safely ensconced in the elevator, Ziva flicked the emergency stop switch.
"Right." McGee coughed, somehow looking irritated and lost at the same time. "What was all that about?"
"I do not know." Ziva scowled.
Gibbs had issued orders that no one understood before, and expected them to be followed. Ziva was used to this kind of behavior – although it was to Gibbs' favor that he did not do it often.
Abby's behavior was more worrisome. Ziva could not help but think back to the last time Abby had refused to speak with her – the two and a half days from hell.
It had been Tony's fault then. It was likely Tony's fault now.
"Tony knows." Ziva stated with conviction.
"Are you sure, Ziva? He seems… cheerful."
The Israeli's frown deepened.
"I am sure, McGee. He could barely strangle his laugh earlier."
"Um, choke back, Ziva. He could barely choke back his laugh."
She huffed irritably and hit the emergency switch again.
Time to bring Tony in for questioning.
** * ** * ** * **
Gibbs scowled at his blank computer screen. He didn't look up as the elevator chimed.
He didn't need to – his agents were back.
Of course, he knew they would be, but he'd hoped his stalling tactic had bought more time. He glared fixedly at his computer screen as Ziva marched up to his desk.
"Where is Tony?" she demanded, McGee only half a step behind her.
Gibbs sighed, finally looking up.
Like the good agent Gibbs had trained him to be, DiNozzo had clearly anticipated this development.
Well, maybe that was giving him too much credit – DiNozzo was getting into trouble so often, it was hard to find a predicament that he didn't have a hand in.
Actually he could be blamed for this one too – if DiNozzo hadn't been so bull headed when Gibbs told him to invite the rest of the team over for the annual December Dinner, Gibbs wouldn't be in this mess.
In fact, he'd probably be laughing at DiNozzo's own ineptness right now.
Ziva cleared her throat and Gibbs' glower deepened.
Why the hell was this so difficult?
** * ** * ** * **
It was all Tony could do not to laugh out loud. He held it together only because he knew that the slightest sound would give his position away.
Ziva marched straight up to Gibbs desk and – wonder of wonders – furiously demanded to know where he'd gotten to.
Tony sighed – he wasn't surprised, but he still wished that just once Ziva and McGee would give him the benefit of the doubt.
He watched Gibbs flounder for a few moments more before deciding it was time to charge to the rescue.
After all, Gibbs and Abby both had had to save him twice in a row. And then he'd just been dealing with one at a time.
** * ** * ** * **
Ziva watched Tony stroll into the bull pen like he was the king of the world. It irked her.
"Gibbs' office. Now." She barked, staring straight at Tony with narrowed eyes.
How dare he have the nerve to act so unconcerned!
"Okay, okay, Ziva." Tony batted his palms at her placatingly. "Sure, Ziva. " He paused, cocking his head to the side, eyes lighting with sudden 'inspiration'.
To the side, Gibbs groaned before Tony had even opened his mouth to continue.
"McGee and Gibbs should join us. It would be like one big pow-wow for the gang." With that Tony reached between his two partners and grabbed Gibbs' arm, unexpectedly hauling his boss to his feet.
"To the Elevator!" he called, bouncing excitedly, still towing a reluctant and sullen Gibbs in his wake.
Ziva watched in something akin to horror.
"It is like something from the Evening Show," she remarked to McGee – who was also unabashedly staring at the spectacle.
Wrinkling his nose, he turned to her and Ziva spared a sigh for the difficulty of the English language.
"Twilight," he corrected. "And, yes, it is."
"Twilight," she repeated, turning back to face the elevator. Tony was repeatedly jabbing both the up and down buttons to the elevator and Gibbs was leaning back as far as Tony's grip on his arm would allow.
If it was not so freaky, she might have laughed at the situation.
"Um, Ziva," Tim fidgeted nervously. "I really don't think I want to be locked in a metal box with those two… and I have a lot of paper work to do, so do you think-"
Like hell – to borrow one of Tony and Gibbs' favorite expressions – like hell McGee was going to abandon her.
Unconsciously emulating Tony, she reached out and snagged McGee's arm, forcefully dragging him to the elevator.
Tony was politely holding the doors for them when they got there. Gibbs was sulking – with a terrifying scowl, of course – in the far corner.
"Okay, folks, we may as well get this meeting going." Tony made his cheery announcement at the same instant that he hit the emergency stop switch.
Ziva felt her stomach muscles seize and heard McGee gulp.
This was…not right. Not normal.
She missed normal.
"Ziva, since you called this campfire, why don't you start?"
Tony's uncharacteristically kind and considerate tone made her ire rise once again. She almost sighed in relief at the familiar anger flooding her system. Anger – anger at Tony – she could deal with.
It was safe.
In an instant she was in his face, bristling with hostility.
"No, why do not you start? You are the reason for all…this! Explain, now, why Abby will not talk to us and why Gibbs is acting…" Once again she searched for a good word. "creepy."
She almost winced as she said it – another one of Tony's words. And, creepy or not, her Boss was still Gibbs and he was not two feet from her. She spared him a glance, but he merely raised an eyebrow, seemingly content to let her harangue DiNozzo.
"Now why would you think that?" Tony asked softly, eye Gibbs over her shoulder.
She heard Gibbs shift behind her and knew that if she turned around she would witness his and Tony's strange form of wordless communication.
"'s not Tony, this time, Ziva." McGee interjected from his corner. Ziva watched Tony's eyes widen in surprise.
"Then who is it?" she demanded, whirling on McGee, who was wearing a comical bemused expression.
"Um, er," McGee suddenly turned nervous again and suddenly found the floor to be extremely interesting.
Ziva sighed, knowing she was missing something, but not what. She glared at Tony who was 'talking' to Gibbs again.
"Ziva, McGee, you're coming to dinner the 20th. 1700, my place." Ziva raised her eyebrows at Gibbs.
Tony sighed deeply and let his head thunk against the elevator wall.
"Gibbs, you're supposed to ask nicely. They don't have to come."
Gibbs merely grunted and Ziva wondered since when Tony had been allowed to talk to the Boss that way.
"Dinner… that's what this was all about?" Tony laughed at McGee's incredulousness.
"Yep, Probie, that's it." Tony shook his head slightly, glaring at Gibbs. "It's something of a tradition for Gibbs, Abby, Ducky, and I – we thought you'd like to join us this year."
Ziva got the feeling that this was more intimate than Tony was letting on, but she did not say anything.
She would gladly go to the strange traditional dinner. She was starting to feel that the NCIS team was close knit family – and that she was a member, even if she did not always realize it or understand it.
McGee, however, did not seem quite as content.
"So – you, my plane tickets…" He trailed off at Tony's rather disturbing wink. "This is a Family thing, isn't it?"
Gibbs grunted and slapped McGee on the shoulder while Tony laughed.
"Yeah, McGee, it's a family thing."
A/N: The end. Wow, sorry this is so late, guys, but it took me longer to write than I had anticipated. Still, I hope that you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading and please drop me a review!