Home for the Holidays

by Nix
(crimsonquills AT gmail DOT com)

Author's Notes: Not betaed. Also, I feel kind of like I totally failed at the theme I was going for here. The history doesn't feel like it built properly. But oh well.

It was standard practice at every police station Tony had worked in for the men without families to work Christmas, with the new guys filling out the roster, if needed. Thanks to his regular transfers, Tony had been both for his entire career as a cop, which meant that he'd worked Christmas for five years in a row. He didn't mind, actually. It gave him an iron-clad excuse not to show up at any of his father's holiday functions.

He'd joined NCIS just a couple of weeks before his first Christmas as a federal agent, so he wasn't surprised to find himself chalking up a sixth straight working holiday. He was a little surprised to find Gibbs there with him. The man had enough seniority to have the holiday off, family or no family, but he'd already been there when Tony showed up. Tony was curious, but he hadn't even known Gibbs for a month; he didn't ask, and Gibbs didn't offer.

The second Christmas in NCIS Tony knew Gibbs well enough to know not to ask why he was working, but he also had a pretty good guess at the reason. The holidays might be the season of good will and joy, but they were also the season when depression skyrocketed. Work wasn't a bad place to be. It was almost companionable, sitting in the deserted squad room with Gibbs.

His third Christmas in NCIS, Tony actually forgot it was Christmas at all. Kate was the newbie by then and all three of them had ended up holding the fort for the rest of the agency. A fresh case had been called in and with the entire team there it had been so much like any other day that it wasn't until Tony walked into the lab and found someone other than Abby there that he remembered what day it was.

This year Tony shrugged off his snow dusted jacket and nodded at Gibbs, who was filling out paperwork at his desk. "Hey boss," Tony said as he unwound a scarf from around his neck. "Kate in yet?"

"Right behind you, Tony," came Kate's voice. "Didn't you hear me yelling for you to hold the elevator?"

Tony turned to see Kate loaded down with two coolers. "Woah! What's all that?"

"A gift from Abby," Kate said, setting both coolers down on her desk. Tony started unzipping them as Kate shed her winter wear.

One of the coolers was filled with foil wrapped packets that were still warm to the touch. Apparently the coolers' insulation was being used to keep heat, rather than cold, in. Tony inhaled deeply and broke into a grin. "Christmas dinner!" he announced happily, and began unloading packets from the cooler.

"Complete with plates, cutlery, and condiments," Kate confirmed, withdrawing the aforementioned objects from the other cooler. Even the plates were warm, and there was cranberry sauce and gravy and butter.

"No dessert?" Tony joked, grinning as he unloaded foil packets onto plates.

"Ducky took care of dessert," Gibbs said. Tony looked over and found Gibbs tapping a box on his desk without even looking away from his computer screen.

Tony's grin widened. "Sweet!" He assembled two plates and carried them over to Gibbs's desk, nudging his own desk chair along with his foot. He plunked one of the plates down in front of Gibbs and set his own down on a corner of the desk before seating himself. "Whatcha up to, Boss?"

"Working," Gibbs said flatly. "The way you two should be."

"It's quiet, Gibbs," Kate said, joining them at Gibbs's desk. "We can afford time for a dinner break."

Gibbs looked away from the screen to glare at them. Tony nudged Gibbs's plate closer to him. He focused the glare on Tony for a moment, but eventually reached out and picked up the knife and fork. He pointed the knife at them. "If we get a call, you don't get to take it with you."

"Talk to Tony!" Kate protested. "He's the one who got refried beans all over the inside of the car last time."

"That wouldn't have happened if Gibbs had been driving like a sane person!" Tony protested, ducking a head slap.

Kate smacked him instead, if only on the shoulder. "You haven't learned to take that into account by now?"

Tony grinned as he argued his case.

It was good to spend Christmas with family.