This was written for the GAbby forums Secret Santa project. I hope you enjoy it! -KM-
Gibbs was in a mood: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that.
It wasn't just any Gibbs mood, but an irritable, grumpy, cranky bear of a mood that had the entire NCIS staff stepping lightly for fear of getting growled at or swiped with an angry paw. He brushed by a teenage girl begging for change in front of the coffee shop, intent on his caffeine fix and getting back to the case.
Plonking the coffee on his desk and shoving a candy cane left there into the trash can, he stalked downstairs, glaring at the tinsel and Christmas lights that decorated the office, as though the decorations themselves were actively trying to interfere with his foul mood. Abby had better have those fingerprint results. Then he could wrap up this case and head home to spend Christmas Eve with his boat and his bourbon, trying yet again to drown the memory of Shannon and Kelly.
Entering the lab, he saw Abby working at her computer, happily singing Christmas carols under her breath, her unique holiday lights strung around the room blinking with red and green skulls. "Got those results yet?"
She jumped straight up, knocking over the nearly empty Caf-Pow cup at her elbow. "Gibbs! I am so going to put a jingle bell on you!"
He glared. "Abby. The results?"
She glared back. "Yes, oh Scrooge. And a bah humbug to you too." Gibbs continued to glare, and Abby sighed and turned to her screen. "Our petty officer was murdered by the guy Tony's got in custody, Staff Sergeant Thomas Hanlin. Prints are all over the knife."
Gibbs nodded and turned to leave. "Gibbs?" She asked quickly.
"Can I ask a small, teeny-tiny, infinitesimally puny little favor?" Uh oh. She was giving him that look.
"I have these tickets…"
"No. Ask Tony." There was the look again. He was so screwed. Saying no to Abby was difficult on the best of days. When she gave him that look that tugged at his heart in a way he tried very hard to ignore, saying no was impossible.
"Gibbs! My friend gave me tickets for 'A Christmas Carol' at the Kennedy Center tonight. If I took Tony, I'd hear so much about every movie adaptation, even the Disney one with the ducks! And as much as I adore Ziva, there's so much tradition in it I'd have to explain, and McGee would totally take it the wrong way, and my other friends, well, the theatre really isn't their scene, you know? And I really want to go, but it's a long drive, and it might snow so maybe we'll have a white Christmas after all and-" She stopped for a breath.
He held up a hand. "Okay."
"But Gibbs! Wait, what?"
"I said okay." He smiled, shaking his head at her.
"Oh!" Abby grinned back at him. "I thought you were going to put up way more of a fight."
He shrugged. "What time's the show?"
"Pick you up at six thirty."
"Sounds good, Boss-man." He turned toward the door, and she stopped him with a quick hand on his shoulder. He turned back, confused. His confusion deepened when she leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. Seeing his look, she pointed up. "Mistletoe!"
For the first time in days, Gibbs found himself chuckling. "Go home, Abbs. I'll see you later."
He headed for the elevator, too far away to hear Abby pick up the phone. "Tony! Mission: Ebenezer is a go. Thanks for the tickets!"
Gibbs arrived at Abby's a few minutes before six-thirty, and she opened the door wearing one shoe, holding the other in her hand. "I'm almost ready!"
He followed her inside and she plopped into a chair at the table and slid the other heel on, twisting around to reach the small buckle for the strap around her ankle. "I hate these shoes."
"Why wear them?" He asked, confused.
"Because boots wouldn't go with the dress." She grumped.
He sat in the chair next to her, reached down, pulling her ankle up into his lap, and swiftly fastening the buckle with a smirk. "Shoes look nice." His hand paused on her ankle a moment before he set her foot back down and stood, helping her up. "We should go."
"Let me grab my cloak." She snatched her black cloak off the back of her chair and fastened it around her shoulders, the white trim setting off her black curls. "Okay, ready." She handed him the tickets and he slipped them into the inside pocket of his coat as they headed out the door.
They settled into their seats with a few minutes to spare. Gibbs looked around. "Orchestra. Nice friend."
"Yeah. Lucky us, huh?" Abby looked up at the stage, hoping he wouldn't see the slight nervousness. She could not let him know that Tony had bought the tickets specifically for her and Gibbs, calling it 'self preservation' to drag Gibbs out of his holiday funk.
The lights dimmed and she grabbed his hand, excited. "Ooh! It's starting!"
The curtain rose on Scrooge's counting house, Bob Cratchit cowering in the corner over his ledger asking for time off for Christmas, and as he saw Scrooge chasing away those wishing him holiday cheer, Gibbs brushed off a sense of déjà vu.
He watched Jacob Marley rattle his chains into Scrooge's room, promising Ebenezer a visit by three spirits, and shivered slightly as the room went dark, a jovial yet somehow sinister laugh filling the darkness, and the lights rose to the Ghost of Christmas Past standing by Scrooge's bedside, whisking him away to an earlier time.
His breath caught as he saw a young Ebenezer dancing with a beautiful girl in a green dress with long red curls, and couldn't help thinking of Shannon and his own past as Scrooge spoke of how happy she had made him. The cracks in his heart felt raw and jagged as he watched her hand back Ebenezer's ring and turn away as Scrooge explained how she'd left him and married another because she couldn't handle his obsession and cruelty. Gibbs cringed as he heard Scrooge beg the spirit to take him back, knowing he couldn't stand it if he'd had to relive the moment he learned Shannon was gone. Abby's hand tightened around his, noticing his reaction. Embarrassed, he tried to shoehorn his mind back onto the play as he watched the Ghost of Christmas Present appear.
Bob Cratchit carried Tiny Tim to the table, his crutch leaning against his chair. Scrooge looked at the tiny turkey and the sick child and asked about his future, and Gibbs found himself wondering about what would come of the teenager in front of the coffee shop. He hoped she'd found somewhere warm to weather tonight's storm.
The Spirit whisked Scrooge away to his nephew Fred's Christmas party, the one Ebenezer always refused to attend, and watching the merrymaking, Gibbs' mind wandered to Christmas morning at Ducky's. He was always invited to celebrate with the rest of those at NCIS with no family nearby, but was usually too hung over from the evening before to consider it. The happy faces on stage made him wonder what he had been missing as the Spirit observed Scrooge frolicking unnoticed by the party guests.
The stage darkened again and the sound of a clock striking midnight rang ominously through the theatre. The lights came up slowly as mist rolled across the stage, a hooded figure approaching Scrooge. "Spirit?"
Scrooge was whisked off to people bartering over the possessions of a man who had died, laughing that no one was at the graveyard to mourn him, and on to a graveyard, watching an older Bob Cratchit place a small wreath on the grave of Tiny Tim. As Scrooge asked the Spirit who the people had been talking about, the Spirit laughed mirthlessly and shoved Scrooge through a trapdoor grave, the spotlight on the tombstone, illuminating the name 'Ebenezer Scrooge'.
Scrooge awoke in his bed, hearing the bells of Christmas morning. As he watched Scrooge run through the streets, Gibbs found himself wondering if anyone would really care if he was gone. Sure, the team would show up at his funeral, and Abby would cry, but would anyone really miss him, like he missed Shannon and Kelly? He sank back in his seat a bit, concluding probably not.
Abby glanced over at him and he realized she'd been holding his hand through the entire play. You okay? She signed. He nodded. She didn't quite look like she believed him, but turned her attention back to the stage.
Instead of watching Scrooge wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, he found himself unable to tear his eyes from Abby, wondering if, like Scrooge, he had spent so much time being bitter over events in the past that he had been blinded to the present.
The house lights came up, and he applauded with the rest of the crowd, standing and helping Abby with her cloak after the curtain closed. "Gibbs, thanks so much for coming with me! Wasn't it good?"
He nodded and escorted her out of the theatre, looking up at her gasp of surprise. "Gibbs! It's snowing! We're going to have a white Christmas after all! Isn't it wonderful?"
He smiled at her enthusiasm, following her as she tugged him towards the street. "Abbs, we parked that way."
"But the park is over there! I want to see the Christmas tree with the lights and the snow! Please, Gibbs? It's not too late, is it?"
"Okay, Abbs, let's go."
He tucked her arm in his, knowing the sidewalks could be icy, and they made their way to the park. When they reached the tree, she stood in wonder, looking up at the falling snow. "Beautiful, isn't it, Gibbs?"
He nodded, thinking more about Abby than the tree as she tried to catch a snowflake. They stood for a moment and watched the Christmas lights reflect across the snow and ice, until he felt Abby shiver. "Come on, Abbs. Time to head back. You're cold."
She nodded, leaving the tree reluctantly and walking with him through the park towards the parking lot. Looking up at the streetlamps, she laughed. "Look! They've hung mistletoe from the lights!" She kissed him on the cheek as they passed underneath one, looking uncertain when he stopped walking. "Gibbs?"
"Abbs." He reached up and brushed her hair back from her cheek, snow settling on her curls. Giving her plenty of time to back away if she wanted to, he slowly lowered his lips to hers, kissing her gently. His heart was pounding in his chest as he pulled back to look at her, relief washing over him as he saw her smile, felt her slide her arms around his neck. He held her to him as he kissed her again, her mouth opening to his as his hands tangled in her hair.
Finally needing air, he hugged her to him tightly. "Gibbs?" She whispered. "I'm not cold anymore."
As she pulled his lips back to hers, he realized with surprise that after all these years, neither was he.
He spent the next morning with the team at Ducky's, enjoying the company of friends he had come to consider family. That afternoon he stopped by the coffee shop on his way home and bought an extra cup. He spoke with the teenage girl outside, and with a few phone calls, that evening she was on a Trailways bus back to North Carolina and a family who missed her desperately. And then off to Abby's, where he bundled her into the car and whisked her off to an evening of ice skating, hot cocoa, and kisses in front of his fireplace.
…And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!
Credit for the first and last lines and pretty much the whole plot to Charles Dickens.
Thanks for reading, and please do take a moment to let me know what you think! I really enjoy hearing from all of you! -KM-