AN: Just a little Christmas story I've been working on. It will most likely be two chapters. Hope you like it :)
"Merry Christmas," Gibbs said as Ziva and McGee headed out, smiling happily. Ziva had been invited by Abby to spend the holiday with her and her family and McGee was flying home that evening to have Christmas with his own family. Ducky had made plans to spend the weekend with his new lady friend with whom he had become quite smitten. Only Tony had remained closed-lipped about his own holiday plans or, as Gibbs strongly suspected, his lack of plans. He silently observed his senior field agent who was leaning back in his chair holding an icepack over an impressive-looking purplish knot on his forehead, courtesy of an overly rambunctious suspect Tony had tackled earlier in the day.
Tony noticed that Gibbs' eyes were on him and turned towards the older man, dropping the icepack to his desk. "Shouldn't you be going, boss? You've got a long drive ahead of you."
"How's your head?" Gibbs asked, ignoring DiNozzo's not too subtle attempt to get rid of him.
"Its fine, boss," Tony said, rolling his eyes. "Ducky said I was fine. You heard him yourself."
"That I did," Gibbs nodded in agreement, a slight smirk touching the corners of his lips.
"What's so funny?" Tony was unable to hide his irritation which told Gibbs just what he needed to know. His agent wasn't quite as fine as he was pretending to be.
"Get your coat, DiNozzo," Gibbs said as he stood up. "I'm taking you home."
"What? No way, boss," Tony protested. "I'm perfectly capable of driving myself home."
"You look like crap. I'm taking you home." Gibbs was speaking in a tone that clearly said not to argue with him, so Tony merely mumbled under his breath as he retrieved his coat, and continued to do so as they walked through the garage.
"What's that?" Gibbs asked as they headed towards his car.
"I said, how am I supposed to go all weekend without a car?" Tony made one last effort to try to get home on his own.
"Take a taxi to pick it up in the morning...You can put it on your expense account, okay?"
"That's kind of a pain in the ass," Tony responded, glaring at Gibbs, but getting no reaction whatsoever. He finally realized that Gibbs was not going to give in. At this point, he just wanted to go home and sleep. Maybe he'd be lucky enough to sleep right through Christmas day and then he wouldn't have to deal with this supposedly merry holiday again for another year.
Gibbs smiled to himself as he glanced at Tony who was soundly sleeping beside him. Except for DiNozzo's grumbling, this couldn't have been easier. Like taking candy from a baby. Tony had dropped off after only being in the car for a few minutes. There hadn't been time for him to even notice that Gibbs wasn't headed in the direction of his home. They had been driving for over an hour now and the younger man hadn't stirred except for the occasional soft mutterings in his sleep. Eventually, Gibbs pulled the car in front of a diner and gently shook Tony's shoulder. "DiNozzo, wake up."
Tony put his hand over his mouth as he yawned then groaned softly as he opened his eyes and stared outside at the unfamiliar diner. "Boss? Where the heck are we?"
"We're going to get some dinner, come on," Gibbs said before getting out of the car. Tony followed him a few moments later.
"What are you doing?" Tony asked, falling into step beside Gibbs as he walked.
"What does it look like I'm doing?" Gibbs asked. "I just told you. I'm getting something to eat and you are too. You haven't eaten a proper meal all day. Chips and candy bars aren't going to sustain you for long."
"Where are we?" By this point, Tony was well aware of what Gibbs had done, but couldn't stop himself from questioning him.
"This place has the best homemade pie. You'll have to get yourself some dessert."
They walked into the diner and a harried-appearing waitress waved at them. "Just sit wherever you want," she directed as she carried a tray to a table.
The two men found an empty booth and Tony looked around. "This place is pretty crowded for Christmas Eve," he observed.
Gibbs nodded as he handed Tony a menu and opened another one himself. "They're open 365 days a year. Popular place with truckers and travelers. Great prices and the food can't be beat."
After perusing the menu, Tony ordered a hot roast beef sandwich and Gibbs decided on the baked ziti. "Why are you doing this?" Tony asked quietly after the waitress scurried away.
"I thought it was a good idea," Gibbs admitted. "So did my dad."
"So he knows I'm coming with you?" Tony asked. "You...you planned to kidnap me?"
Gibbs couldn't help but chuckle. "Kidnapping, DiNozzo? Maybe we drove to your apartment and I couldn't wake you up so I decided to just bring you along."
"Well, no," Gibbs admitted, shaking his head, still smiling faintly. "But it could have happened that way."
Tony shook his head, obviously distressed by the turn of events. "Christmas is for families, boss," he began. "You and your father don't need me hanging around, ruining things..."
"We want you there, Tony," Gibbs insisted."'Both of us do. You won't ruin anything."
"But why didn't you just ask me then?" Tony asked doubtfully.
"Would you have accepted the invitation?" Gibbs asked.
Tony shrugged. "I don't really know."
"Well, I know," Gibbs said. "You wouldn't have."
"So this is better? Why do you want me there so badly anyhow?"
"Why is it so hard for you to believe that we would want you there?" Gibbs threw the question back at him.
"I don't know, boss..." Tony began. "Christmas and I have never really gotten along all that well. My parents used to have these elaborate Christmases, perfect tree, perfect food, perfect presents...at least in their eyes anyway, but not for me. My dad told me there was no Santa Claus when I was five years old. 'You're not a baby, Junior,' he said. 'I work hard for what you get and its time for you to know its me, not Santa Claus who puts the presents underneath the tree.' We didn't even decorate the tree...the staff did. I wasn't allowed to touch the ornaments. My mother was too afraid I'd break them. All my friends used to love Christmas, the whole magic of it...for me, it just wasn't like that..."
"Then I think its high time you had a proper Christmas, Tony, don't you?" Gibbs asked, saddened at the thought of Tony as a lonely little boy, not experiencing any of the joys of the holiday the way other children did.
"I think its a little too late for me, boss, don't you?" Tony asked, his expression sad. "I'm not a child anymore..."
"Its never too late for Christmas..."
They ate their dinner and Gibbs bought two pies to have with Christmas dinner the following day. Then they hit the road again. Gibbs turned the radio to a station that was playing Christmas music. Tony didn't seem as out of sorts as he had been earlier and Gibbs was glad he had decided to bring the younger man along. The idea had first come to him about two weeks previously when Ziva, McGee and Abby had been discussing their Christmas plans. Tony hadn't said a word and had looked more and more uncomfortable until the subject had changed. That night, Gibbs had called his father.
"Leroy! Its good to hear from you, son. How are you?"
"I'm good, dad. Really good. How are you?"
"Can't complain. So, what's up? I don't think you called just for idle chit chat."
"No...No, I didn't," Gibbs said with a chuckle. "Its about Christmas..."
"I knew it. I just knew it," Jackson said. "I knew you were going to bail out of coming here. Is it work? Is that your excuse?"
"For crying out loud, dad," Gibbs said. "Will you let me get a word in? I never said I wasn't coming."
"Oh...sorry," Jackson said. "I guess I kind of jumped to conclusions..."
"I said I was sorry, Leroy. What do you want me to say?"
"You're right. I'm sorry too," Gibbs said. "Anyway, about Christmas...I was wondering if you mind if I bring a guest?"
"Mind? Of course I don't mind. I just didn't know you were seeing anyone. What's her name?" Jackson asked.
"Its not a her, dad, and I'm not seeing anyone. Its Tony."
"Tony, your senior field agent? That Tony?" Jackson couldn't hide his surprise.
"Yes, he's the one. So is it okay?"
"Of course its alright, its just...Are you sure he wants to come? Seems he might have more interesting plans than spending Christmas with us."
"He doesn't...I don't think Tony is really all that fond of Christmas. I'd like to show him what he's missing."
"And you think we can do that?"
Okay then, let's show young Tony just what Christmas is all about."
"How's your head?" Gibbs glanced at Tony who was starting to look a little bit sleepy again.
"My head?" Tony shrugged as he reached up and lightly touched his forehead. "Honestly, I had forgotten all about it. Its fine...just a little sore when I touch it."
"Then don't touch it," Gibbs said, smirking.
"So...what exactly do you and your dad do for Christmas, anyhow?" Tony asked.
"You'll see. Nothing fancy," Gibbs replied vaguely.
Suddenly, a look of dismay came over Tony's face. "Boss, I don't even have a gift for your father."
"Don't worry about it," Gibbs said. "My father won't be expecting a gift."
"Even so...its wrong to show up without a gift," Tony said, his green eyes troubled. He had already given Gibbs his traditional gift of a large bottle of Jack..
Gibbs sighed. "This is a holiday...I want you to relax and enjoy it. Stop stressing yourself out over every little thing. Can you please do that for me?"
Tony didn't say anything, he just stared out the window with a dejected look on his face.
Gibbs shook his head. "I thought you'd want to do this. The last time you came to Stillwater, you could hardly contain your excitement. This is your chance to ask my dad whatever you'd like, DiNozzo. I would think you'd like that. Trust me...this is supposed to be a good thing, its not a punishment. Now can you please try to have a good time?"
"Sure...I'll try, boss," Tony said He knew Gibbs was right. He needed to just try to relax and not worry so much. The last thing he wanted to do was to spoil Christmas for Gibbs and his dad.
The rest of the drive was mainly spent in silence. Finally, they arrived in front of Jackson Gibbs' store. Gibbs popped open the trunk and the two men got out of the car. Gibbs pulled a duffel bag out of the trunk and another overnight bag which he tossed to Tony. "Here you go."
"How'd you get this, boss?" Tony asked, recognizing his bag.
"I figured you'd need some clothes and stuff for the weekend," Gibbs replied with a grin. "So I went and picked up some stuff at your apartment this morning."
"Oh...thanks." Gibbs had copies of each of his team members' keys, but Tony figured he would only use it in case of an emergency. He wasn't going to quibble over it though. He was glad that he had his things. However, he was still very uncertain about the weekend, in general. At this point, though, he knew he had no choice but to try to make the best of things. Gibbs wasn't due back at work until Tuesday morning so Tony knew they likely wouldn't be leaving Stillwater until Monday. He took a deep breath as he followed Gibbs towards the front door, hoping that the weekend wouldn't be a total disaster.
To Be Continued...