The first Christmas they were together after she became director they spent hating each other.
He was still hung up about the way she left him in Paris.
She was suddenly overwhelmed with her repressed feelings.
For the most part, they both ignored the holiday; he only giving it a second thought once Abby had started decorating; she barely remembering to wish her oldest and dearest friends a Merry Christmas on her way out the door.
The first Christmas they were together, they weren’t together at all.
“But Gibbs, I don’t understand why you haven’t told her!” Abby shrieked, bouncing up and down in her impossibly-high heels. “She’s just as miserable as you are!”
“Leave it alone, Abbs,” he grumbled.
“No! I’m not going to let you wallow in sorrow! Christmas is supposed to be a happy, joyous time of year! You’re supposed to spend time with the people you love!”
Gibbs sighed. “Will it make you happy if I spend the day with you?”
“You know that the team is going to Ducky’s for Christmas dinner, don’t you?”
“Yeah. DiNozzo hasn’t shut up about it for weeks.”
“Good. Now that that’s settled, Ducky wants you to bring some sourdough rolls from the bakery near your house.”
… “You knew I was going to say yes, didn’t you?”
Abby simply smiled.
The second Christmas they were together, she was more than slightly obsessed with the international arms dealer La Grenouilles, and he thought her behaviour was a little more than self destructive. As usual, they argued, ignored each other, took their frustrations out on the team; everything they always did.
He was still hung up on the grudge she was harbouring, which was interfering with his team and its practices.
She was still hung up on La Grenouilles himself, and the fact they still had yet to locate him.
It only ended when Abby told them the kids hated it when Mommy and Daddy fought, and as usual, the guilt trip worked.
Grudgingly, Jenny and Gibbs called a holiday ceasefire in the spirit of the season, and Abby’s threats of death if they didn’t, and spoke in short sentences until the season passed.
The second Christmas they were together, it was only because of their ‘daughter’ they could even stand each other’s presence.
Gibbs sat at his desk in the bullpen, silently protesting being in the office at all. They should have been off rotation, but a roster mistake and a swap with another team three weeks previously meant his team had pulled the holiday weekend and were scheduled to work both Christmas and New Years.
He didn’t raise his head as he felt Jen’s eyes on him, the hair on the back of his rose defensively. “DiNozzo, shut up and do some work,” he growled at the younger man and his annoyingly incessant chatter.
The silence that greeted him was as annoying as the incessant chatter, and Gibbs found he still couldn’t focus on anything important. Sighing in frustration, he took his glasses off and rubbed his tired eyes.
What they were doing in the office without a case, he didn’t know, but he did know the Director had been staring at him all night.
Maybe it was time to give Abby a visit.
The third Christmas they were together, they actually spent together, albeit in a private room at Georgetown Private Hospital. After what happened in the abandoned diner in LA, both of them finally agreed to put their feelings of animosity aside and admit to their feelings, the ones Abby claimed had been ‘staring them in the face for years’.
He was no longer hung up on their unresolved sexual tension.
She was no longer avoiding her feelings.
They were no longer ignoring the feelings that had been building to a point for the past fifteen years.
The third Christmas they spent together as a team, as a family, for the first time in years. This was the Christmas they knocked down the walls around their hearts and finally decided to let the other in.
“You think it’ll work?” Gibbs asked, shifting to make both of them more comfortable in her hard hospital bed. The nurses disapproved of their sharing the bed, but now knew better than to question the stubborn pair.
“This. Us. You think we can work together and not kill each other?”
“I think we’ll keep on doing what we’ve always done and the fights will mean better make up sex.”
“Oh, so there will be sex involved, then?”
“How else will we work out our frustrations?”
The fourth Christmas they spent in the office yet again, but this time they were on speaking terms, and they were working a case. Jenny spent most of her time in the bullpen with the rest of the team, sitting at Gibbs’ desk, her shoeless feet resting near the keyboard.
No one questioned the half hour both Jenny and Gibbs disappeared, only to reappear looking slightly dishevelled, bearing swollen lips and slight smiles. No one commented on the better mood both of them were in following their return.
He was actually smiling in the office for once.
She was more than happy to show emotion she would normally hide.
They were both acting like teenagers at Prom, and neither cared.
The fourth Christmas they spent together was the first happy, carefree Christmas either had experienced in a very long time. This was the first Christmas either had even considered giving their heart.
Lying in bed together after solving the case, Jenny sighed.
“What?” Gibbs asked. They were at her Georgetown townhouse, and had been for the last eight months. He had stayed the night after a bad case in April and had never left.
“Jethro, do you care that everyone knows about us?”
He scoffed. “Jen, for once in my life, I couldn’t care less about what everyone else thought, and more about what you think.”
“But do you think they know about the print room?”
“… Jen, do you know why that lock is broken.”
“Tony and Ziva got there first.”
“… I don’t believe you.”
He shrugged. “Fine. But when she turns up pregnant, I get to say I told you so.”
The fifth Christmas they spent together, they spent together as a family. Everyone was at their Georgetown townhouse for Christmas, Jethro had officially moved in earlier that year, and the snowstorm meant they were cooped up inside with the alcohol.
There were very few secrets between anyone present, and the alcohol aided on that front, but Abby was more than pleased that Mommy and Daddy were acting more like Mommy and Daddy should. Both of them didn’t care, as long as they were together in the long run, and none of the conversations were repeated out of the house.
He was more than pleasantly buzzed, joining in the conversations he wouldn’t have three years before.
She was definitely buzzed, leaning more towards drunk, sharing details with the girls that should have been left private.
They were opening up to themselves, and everyone else close to them, and it made them all more like a family than they had ever been before.
The fifth Christmas they spent together they let their family in, opening up their hearts in the true sense of the word, and the season, and became a closer, stronger team after they did so.
Jethro stared at the ring sitting comfortably in the dark blue velvet. He had had it for months, locating it at an out-of-town jewellers’ purely by accident.
He knew he was going to propose to Jenny, he just didn’t know how and when.
“Whatcha got there, boss?”
Jethro jumped as he heard Tony’s voice echo softly throughout the empty room. He snapped the box shut quickly and attempted to hide it, but his senior field agent would have none of it.
“Oh, come on, Gibbs, even I know what’s in that box. Hell, I have one of my own at home in my underwear drawer.”
Gibbs looked up at the younger man, letting his walls crumble a little more, showing emotion in his eyes. “How do you know she’ll say yes?”
“Why would she say no?” he answered straight away. “I know Ziva loves me, she knows she loves me. I just need to grow a pair and actually ask,” he shrugged.
Gibbs smirked and pulled the ring box back out of his pocket, opening it to stare at the diamond engagement ring again. “Just grow a pair and ask, hey? That’s your best advice?”
Tony shrugged again. “Hey, I never said you should listen to it. Just go with your gut; it seems to guide you well.”
The younger man slunk out of the room, leaving Jethro to his thoughts once again. Less than a minute later, he snapped the ring box shut again and dropped it back in his pocket.
“Just go with my gut,” he muttered to himself. “Only you would say that, DiNozzo.”
The sixth Christmas they spent together, they spent in hospital, but for an entirely different, and much better, reason. Jenny had just given birth to their boy-girl twins, a miracle at her age. Jeremy Jackson and Jasper Shannon Gibbs were born on December 23 at 2.42am by emergency c-section, following a difficult pregnancy and an unsuccessful attempt at a natural birth.
This time, they were in hospital for a positive reason. Although the twins were delivered at 32 weeks, only their lungs were underdeveloped and they weighed in at 4lb 8oz and 4lb 3oz respectively. Despite her age, Jenny was doing well, and the Gibblets were due for release from the NICU mid-to-late-January, closer to their due date.
The older Gibblets, as Abby referred to them, visited the new parents in hospital, all geared up and ready to spoil their newborn niece and nephew.
He was glad they were happy again.
She was glad the memories of Shannon and Kelly didn’t overshadow their new life.
They were both glad both Jeremy and Jasper, though born early, were healthy and happy babies.
The sixth Christmas they spent together, they became a true family, for the first time in a long time. The only thing that could make them happier was yet to come.
“Please be ok, please be ok, please be ok…” seemed to be Jenny’s mantra upon her second visit to the NICU since the twins were born.
“Jen, they’re gonna be fine, the doctor said so,” Jethro was trying to reassure her.
“But what about infections they could pick up, or complications from the caesarean, or…”
“Jen. Stop it, now,” his voice was firm. She immediately fell quiet. “Worrying is not going to help them. The doctor said he and the nurses have done all they can, it’s up to them now. He said they’re strong and healthy, just need a little extra help breathing and a little more time to grow.” Jethro felt like he was talking to a child, not his wife.
“But I feel so helpless!”
“So do I, but you don’t see me whining about it, do you?” it was a rhetorical question. In a softer voice, he added, “Remember, all we can do is sit with them, talk to them, and let them know we are here. Hold their tiny little hands, reassure them, pray for them. Negativity is bad, positivity is good.”
“Think positive. Okay, I think I can do that.”
They sat in silence for a while, each left to their own thoughts.
“Anytime Jen, anytime.”
The seventh Christmas they spent together was the twins’ first Christmas. The one year olds were more interested in the wrapping paper and the boxes than the piles and piles of toys and clothes they received from their extended family. Many well wishers from the political circles Jenny was a part of sent gifts, meaning Jeremy and Jasper were the most spoiled children in DC.
Abby, wanting to play in the freshly-fallen snow, dragged everyone outside for a snowball fight, claiming Jasper for her team, declaring the game girls vs boys. The girls won.
He had never had a better Christmas since Shannon and Kelly passed.
She had never had a better Christmas, period.
They were glad they finally found a way to enjoy the holidays.
The seventh Christmas they spent together, they spent with their extended family, behaving in ways only they would. The recent engagement of Tony and Ziva was only icing on the cake.
Jenny shrieked as a snowball hit her square in the back. She turned to see where the offending object had come from, and almost shot DiNozzo when she saw the evil grin on his face.
“Tony, you weren’t supposed to hit Jenny!” Abby screamed. “She won’t let involve the twins if you piss her off!”
Tony shrugged, and Jenny smiled at her friend. “It’s ok, Abby. We can get him back. Recruit Ziva to our team; she’ll see it as foreplay and we’ll win.”
“Ooh, ooh! Girls vs boys snowball fight!” she screamed, running into the house to gather the rest of their family. Ducky kindly volunteered to referee, and entertain the twins once they grew bored of the festivities, to ensure a modicum of fairness. In all honesty, he was there to ensure there was no bloodshed from either team.
Ziva helped Abby and Jenny stockpile the best, most tightly packed snowballs the red head had ever seen, considering Ziva grew up in the desert. They felt prepared for the onslaught that waited.
Jenny took a moment to pause and think to herself; this was the first Christmas since her parents had died she had actually participated in a snowball fight, and actually looked forward to it. This was a time where they could throw projectiles at each other and not be reprimanded for it, or risk facing unpleasant consequences.
This was a time to be spent with family, and…
A snowball hit her, square in the face this time. She drew her head out of the proverbial clouds and smiled; the look on Jethro’s face immediately told her who had thrown the object.
The war had begun.
The eighth Christmas they spent together, they ended up in New York. Partly, for a case, but mostly because Jethro decided his family of “J’s” needed to visit somewhere with pleasant memories. His father had passed away at the end of the previous winter, leaving his grocery store in Silverwater to his son and daughter-in-law, and their two biological children; their other children were each bequeathed something of sentimental value in his will.
The trip to New York was their first as a family, on their own. Though the two-year-olds didn’t understand the significance of anything, or the importance of anything else, they had fun in Central Park, playing in the snow, and visiting the other tourist attractions.
He was happy they could go somewhere and not be recognised, harassed, photographed or approached. Or followed by an obviously visible security detail.
She was happy they could be happy somewhere other than DC.
They were happy the twins could act so carefree when they knew the horrors that could be ahead.
The eight Christmas they spent together was one they spent acting carefree and spinning happily in the falling snow, in a city where they could be themselves without being recognised.
The trip to New York, once the official business had been taken care of, was one Jenny would remember forever. Central Park was an especially fun afternoon. The light snow fall meant the twins would be totally covered in it in no time once they started playing, and so would she and Jethro.
As they walked into the gated park, a small orchestra performing at a nearby bandstand began playing Jenny’s all time favourite Christmas song, ‘Fairytale of New York’. Jenny stopped and smiled at her husband, and they immediately walked towards the bandstand, all but dragging the twins with them.
The two year olds couldn’t care less about the music, and once Jasper had spied the build up of snow in a pile, she immediately ran to jump in it. Knowing their children would be fine, and the security detail would assist in watching them, Jethro pulled his wife into position, and they began dancing to the soft music, Jenny singing along.
Out of the corner of his eye, Jethro could see the twins throwing handfuls of snow at each other, having the time of their lives, and he knew they would be fine until the end of the song. Refocussing his attention on his wife, he smiled widely at the happy, peaceful look on her face.
All too soon, the song ended and another started, but the moment was over. They stopped dancing and watched the snow fight their children were having, and trying to include the security detail in. Jenny laughed as Jeremy was hit in the face by his sister, and laughed even harder when Jasper fell over into the growing pile of snow.
“Think we should save them?” Jethro asked.
Jenny shook her head. “Nah, we should join in.”
The ninth Christmas they spent together, they were yet again at the hospital. Three year olds Jeremy and Jasper Gibbs were in the Paediatric ICU suffering from severe pneumonia after playing in the snow for too long. Three floors up, on the other side of the building, Ziva David-DiNozzo had recently given birth to her and Tony’s first child.
Their son, Anthony Dominic DiNozzo III, born December 23 at 4.47pm, weighed 9lb 10oz at 41 weeks and three days. Abby was ecstatic little AJ, as she called him, shared the same birthday as the twins, the female one he would later marry if Abby had her way. Jenny was simply hoping Jasper would live that long.
Jethro warned Anthony Dominic DiNozzo II about what would happen if his little boy broke his little girl’s heart. DiNozzo II gulped, nodded, and ran back to his wife.
He was otherwise praying the twins would pull through their illness.
She was blaming herself for letting them play out in the snow for so long.
They were both hoping their beloved children would wake up on Christmas morning.
The ninth Christmas they spent together was one of mixed feelings; trepidation, hopefulness, hopelessness, joy, grief, anger, happiness, sadness, indifference. All could only hope the whole family pulled through in one piece.
The PICU nurse greeted Mr and Mrs Gibbs as she walked in, checking the vital signs of their twins before morning rounds. It was barely 5am, but both parents were wide awake, drinking coffee but not talking.
She had witnessed many conversations between the two in the time since Jeremy and Jasper had been admitted with pneumonia, and now it seemed the parents had nothing more to talk about.
“You know, it helps if you talk to them; the sound of your voices is encouraging,” she told them gently, writing on Jeremy’s chart. “It also helps keep you sane.”
Jenny smiled and nodded her thanks, turning her attention back to the two cribs before them. The twins had spent their third birthday in medically induced comas which had since been reversed. Now, all they were waiting for was the twins to wake up.
All they needed was a Christmas miracle.
“They’re going to be ok, Jen,” Jethro whispered, grabbing hold of her free hand. “They’re strong, stubborn kids; they’d have to be, considering who their parents are.”
Jenny smiled slightly at the joke he just made. It honestly wasn’t cheering her up as much as it should, but it helped. Him being supportive helped.
A sudden beeping of a monitor drew their attention back to the cribs, specifically Jasper’s crib. Jenny jumped out of her chair, Jethro not far behind, and raced over to her daughter. The young girl was starting to stir, thrashing gently and making adorable little groans that half sounded like words.
“Come on, baby,” Jenny encouraged. “Wake up for mommy; show me those beautiful green eyes of yours.”
Jethro held his breath, letting it out only when Jasper opened her eyes. Jenny herself breathed a sigh of relief. Her daughter, her little girl was awake.
And talking. Her little girl was awake, alert, and talking.
It was a Christmas miracle.
The tenth Christmas they spent together was the one they would remember for the rest of their lives, for many different reasons.
Jenny was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Jethro retired from NCIS.
Jasper, the ever wise four year old, declared she wanted a puppy to keep her company, and protect her from the ‘evil’ Jeremy and AJ. She also decided she would grow up to be a ninja like her Aunt Ziva, that way she could fight evil all on her own.
Jeremy decided he wanted to be Superman, donned a cape and jumped off the top of the stairs. He ended up in hospital with a broken arm and a cracked skull.
He was happy to finally retire for good.
She was determined to beat the invisible, invading enemy.
They were grateful to be alive and in relatively good health.
The tenth Christmas they spent together was one they referred to as the beginning of the end. The twins were growing up; they would enter preschool the beginning of the next school year. They had retired from NCIS, leaving their jobs and the political circles behind. They were ready to become a normal family, but some things were not meant to be.
“Jen, we will beat this, you will beat this,” Jethro encouraged, grabbing her hands and sitting on the edge of her hospital bed.
“But what if I don’t?” she asked quietly.
“No, Jen, positive thoughts.”
“Jethro, it’s hard to think positive with chemicals running through your veins. I feel like I’m about to hurl.”
“Here’s a basin, give it your best. Just please, try not to get me this time. Vomit is really hard to get out of clothes.”
“How would you know, you’re not the one who washed them.”
“Well, neither are you.”
“And what, Jen?”
“I’m supposed to care because…?”
Jethro sighed. “Jen, you know I’d do this for you if I could, but I can’t, so I’m going to be here every step of the way while you do.”
“But what about your job? The team?”
“Just because you can resign, doesn’t mean I can’t.”
“Retire, Jethro, there’s a difference.”
“Fine then. The new director pushed through my retirement papers yesterday. I’m officially an inactive agent, and I’m committed to spending the rest of my life with you.”
“But what if I don’t live long enough to see that?”
Jethro groaned. “Jen, think positive, remember?”
“Positive; right. I’ll try. Can’t make any promises, but I’ll try.”
Many, many years and many, many Christmases later, Jasper Gibbs-DiNozzo looked back on her life as she watched her four children play in the snow. Though her parents had long since passed away, and her aunts, uncles and cousins were scattered all over the country, she always thought the Christmases they spent together as a family were the best times in their lives.
The holiday had special meaning to her, her husband, and her brother. They all shared the same birthday, and for the most part, the same memories of the holiday season. The first snowfall was always a romantic day for Jasper and AJ; the first snowstorm meant the annual girls vs boys snowball fight was upon them and their families.
Every aspect of Christmas had significance to the Gibbs twins and their families, but they never, ever spent the holiday apart.
Jasper and Jeremy were sitting on a stone bench, the light snow falling around them. They stared at the headstones before them, each lost in their own thoughts.
“God, I wish Mom and Dad were still here,” Jeremy whispered.
Jasper nodded her agreement, wrapping an arm around her brother’s waist and laying her head on his shoulder. “So do I. I knew it would be hard without them, but I didn’t think it would be like this.”
Both sat in silence, looking at the pair of marble stones before them.
“Christmas is always hard without them,” Jasper sighed after a melancholy-filled silence. “We were always the happiest then.”
“Yeah, it hasn’t been the same since.”
Silence fell upon the twins again, and this time the snow started to fall slightly faster. Jasper looked up, and swore she could see their parents’ faces appearing as apparitions not too far away.
“Jay, do you see what I see?” Jasper asked, tugging on her brother’s coat sleeve.
“Over there,” she pointed in the direction of their mother’s face. “It’s Mom and Dad; they’re watching over us.”
“Just remember, we will always be there for you, even when we’re not,” Jeremy whispered. “This must be what they meant.”
“Mom’s last words?”
Jeremy nodded. “I always wondered, and I think now I know. They always meant to die on the same day, to be together until the end. When you think about it, it’s so… them.”
They continued to sit in silence, just watching the snow fall around them, until the sky started darkening and the light faded away. Jasper stood up, pulling Jeremy to his feet as she went, brushing the fallen snow from her pants. “Come on loser, time to go home.”
They started their long hike back to the carpark in silence, their boots leaving indentations in the soft snow. At one point in time, Jasper turned around to look back at where they had been sitting.
“Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad,” she whispered. “I miss you.”
She could feel Jeremy tugging on her arm, so she continued the long walk, turning her back on the headstones a final time.
Suddenly, a light wind blew around them, and Jasper could swear she heard her mother’s voice.
“Merry Christmas, my darlings. We are so very proud of both of you.”
The sound put Jasper’s mind at peace, and she left the cemetery feeling lighter than she had in years.
Maybe Christmas without their parents wasn’t so bad after all.