Tim’s weapon felt cold in his hand. The padded silence of the falling snow filled his ears between his breaths, and the flakes began to accumulate on the cold metal. The soft blue glow of nearby light reflected off of the snow around him. His breath was heavy, his body felt cold from the weather but hot from his physical exertion. His outstretched arm that held his weapon was pointed at his target, David, who also had his weapon drawn and pointed back at Tim.
“You only have one left,” David said between his heavy breaths. “Think you’ll hit me?”
“You can’t run,” Tim said with a fiery intensity.
“I won’t need to. I have two left,” David’s hand tightened around the grip.
“It won’t work, I know you too well, David. Don’t make me take you down.”
“I may just take you down with me, McGee,” David said tauntingly.
David charged at Tim and brought his lightsaber down hard towards his opponent, who quickly blocked the attack and spun around for a low slash. David batted his blade away with a quick spin which caught falling snow from around him and sprayed it outward.
The pair dueled expertly for another few minutes. The impacts from their polycarbonate blades clacked in the air but were quickly swallowed again by silence. The glow from their blue blades helped illuminate the falling snow behind David’s house as the evening light was long gone. David saw his opportunity and darted under Tim’s outstretched arm as it arched upward. He landed a soft swipe of the tip of his blade across Tim’s back. Tim recognized the impact and gave a frustrated groan.
“And that’s a winner for the best out of three, TWO days in a row!” David exclaimed happily as he did a victory dance.
“Hey, I’m mentally fried and can’t think about technique as well as I used to,” Tim whined with a small pout of his lower lip.
David walked up to him, looked into his eyes and put his hand over Tim’s heart. “Feel, don’t think. Use your instincts,” David said mystically.
Tim sheepishly smiled and said, “I love when you quote Star Wars to me, even if it is from Phantom Menace.”
David gave him a deep kiss, wrapping Tim tightly in his arms. He then took Tim’s hand and led him around to the front to go inside. “Some guys go for building a snowman in the snow, I go for a lightsaber duel, some romantic lines, then enjoying warming you back up,” he said with a cocky smile.
“I know it’s what we usually duel for, but…” Tim said depressingly. “I’m sorry I just haven’t been feeling sexual lately, babe. I just…”
“It’s ok,” David said as they entered the warm home. His expression dropped slightly, but he tried to keep it up for Tim’s sake. “I’m still worried about you but I know it’s just because work’s been rough.”
“It’s just hard not having the team together. It’s been four months since Vance broke us up. Christmas is coming up and it’s just not the same without everyone, and just the thought of going back to that basement…”
David gently set his head against Tim’s, silently shushing the other with a soft kiss and wrapping his arms around him.
“I’m just exhausted,” Tim finished.
“I know. You used to have some variety, you used to work with people that are like family, and now it’s all just screens and code.” David remembered the numerous times they’ve had this conversation.
“Thank you for understanding, and for distracting me from thinking about it too much.”
“You’re welcome, baby,” David gave him another soft kiss. “Now let’s get dried off.”
They took their clothes off in the foyer and rushed them over to the dryer as to not trail water throughout the house. They headed to the bedroom to change, and they accidentally woke Jethro from his nap on the bed. While they were changing into some warm clothes, Tim saw a voicemail on his phone from Abby.
“Hey Tim. I know you’re probably at David’s, but… I just can’t stop thinking about Tony and Ziva and just feel really lonely right now. Would it… I hate asking this but if you guys wouldn’t mind, would it be ok if I came up? I completely understand if you guys want space, especially with the holidays coming, I just… miss the family. Call me soon, thanks.”
Tim put down the phone and sat on the edge of the bed. He missed the team too, even Tony’s occasional pranks. He used to get emails from Ziva, but it’s been weeks since her last one. Gibbs was clearly hating having to break in a new team, and while he came to see Tim every now and then it just wasn’t the same.
David sat next to him and put his arm around Tim.
“What is it?”
“Abby. She’s feeling lonely.”
“She doesn’t seem to be the only one,” David said, giving Tim a gentle nudge.
Jethro snuck his way over to them and put his head on Tim’s lap. David lowered his hand to pet him while still snuggling Tim.
“She asked if she could come up to visit,” Tim said.
“She’s always welcome, so what’s the problem?”
“I don’t know. I’d like her here, I miss her too, just…”
“Her being here would remind you of them,” David finished.
“I mean, I’d love to spend actual time with her outside of work, I just don’t know if it would help. Plus it’s your house, and I don’t just want to assume people can stay here.”
“Listen, I know you like coming up here because it gets you away from everything and gets us together. I know I love every second I get to spend with you and spoil both of my boys,” he said as he gave Jethro a scratch behind his ear, “and I’d like to think it helps at least a little, right?”
Tim gave a smile and said, “It does, more than a little.”
“So if Abby needs some cheering up, maybe coming up here and getting away can help her too.”
“You sure you wouldn’t mind?”
“She’s your family, baby,” he gave Tim a soft kiss on his forehead. “Call her and tell her to pack up a ‘Caf-POW!’ and get up here. You can at least be miserable together.”
“Thank you,” Tim said as he dialed Abby and put it on speaker.
“Hey Tim, hope I’m not bothering you guys.” Abby sounded rather melancholic.
“Hey Abby,” they both said.
“Oh, hey David! How are you?”
“Come and find out for yourself,” David said.
“Are you sure?” she asked excitedly. “I don’t want to impose.”
“I’m sure. Tim’s miserable without his Abby.”
“Aw thanks guys! I’ll be right up!”
“David doesn’t have any more ‘Caf-POW!’ so you’ll need to grab some on your way up,” Tim said.”
“I know. I’m the one who drank it all last time, remember?”
“See you soon, Abs,” Tim said.
David smiled as they ended the call. Tim leaned his head down and snuggled on David’s shoulder.
“She’ll be a couple of hours, how about I get dinner started and we all do a movie night to go with the storm?” David softly whispered.
“Mmhph… another screen,” Tim complained, rubbing his eyes.
“Something you already know. You can close your eyes and just listen.”
“I had a dream the other night that a T-Rex trampled all of the servers at work. Guess that points to Jurassic Park?”
“I was thinking more along the lines of Die Hard, but we really should save that for Christmas Eve night. Jurassic Park it is, then. I’ll get started and you let you-know-who ‘o-u-t’ back,” David said carefully, but Jethro perked his head up and leapt off the bed in excitement.
“He knows that one now? He’s going to have us speaking Mandarin just to talk about going outside,” Tim said begrudgingly.
Jethro barked at his favorite word, ‘outside,’ and ran downstairs to find his leash.
“That’s our boy,” David said with a sigh as they got up to follow Jethro downstairs.
David began working a simple Italian-fried chicken dinner while Tim convinced Jethro to use the back yard instead of going for a full walk in the snow. David timed dinner so that Abby would arrived only moments before he was ready to serve. Abby brought her own pillow, a change of clothes, pajamas, and her farting hippo Bert with her.
After dinner, Abby changed into her pajamas and they all sprawled out on the sectional Tim helped David pick out while he was in the hospital. David laid down on the chaise end with Tim’s head on his lap while Tim and Abby shared the rest of the couch. Tim had his eyes closed, listening rather than watching the movie with the other two, and held David’s right hand on his chest. Jethro spread himself out in front of the couch where Tim’s other arm lazily pet him.
“So David,” Abby started, “How’s everything been since I saw you last?”
“Mmmm… the celebratory Solid Food Barbecue,” David remembered fondly. It had been five months since David was shot while helping NCIS take down a smuggling ring and needed to have one of his kidneys removed. Three weeks later, he invited the entire team, even Ducky and Palmer, to his home to celebrate him being able to eat solid food again. That was the weekend before Vance broke up the team.
“I can’t--” Tim chuckled, “I still can’t believe you called it that.”
“Hey, get one of your kidneys out and see how much you come to loathe a liquid diet,” David shuddered. “I’m back in fighting shape, Abby. The first two weeks were the real challenge. Couldn’t have done it without my Knight in Shining Dark Blue Bulletproof Armor.”
Tim smiled at the recognition.
“What did your employees think?” Abby asked.
“At first I told them I traded the kidney to get my hands on the coffee from Tim’s favorite shop. The look on their faces was priceless. Eventually I told them I donated it.”
“You didn’t tell them you were shot?”
“No, I thought it best to leave them all out of it.”
“Yeah, I can see that being a good idea. How’s the new coffee selling, by the way?”
“It was slow at first, but word spreads quickly in a small town. Now I can’t stop selling it. I’m finally able to afford the third manager I need so now I only have to go in when there’s a special order for a wedding cake or event.”
“Wow, so you’ve got more time on your hands.”
“Not really, I still love doing it so I still go in, I just don’t have to when I don’t want to. It also helped when it came time to decorate. I haven’t done up this place for Christmas before, and it was kinda nice to do that for the first time with Tim.” David squeezed Tim’s hand.
Abby looked around at the medium-sized tree sitting in the corner next to the hallway leading to the kitchen. It cast off a white glow from the small twinkle lights strung around it, and various red and gold decorations were hung around the tree. No presents were left underneath it yet.
“This must be exciting, being your first Christmas together. Are you spending it up here?” she asked.
“Most likely,” Tim said. “You’re welcome to join us if you’d like.”
“Aw, thanks! We should bring Gibbs up here too, even though he’s let this whole breaking-up-the-team thing go on for way too long,” Abby said as she squeezed Bert.
“Abby,” Tim warned with his voice and a look, “it’s not Gibbs’ fault. It’s technically Vance’s, but I’m sure has his reasons.”
Abby shot him a look.
“Which you know I couldn’t tell you even if I knew,” Tim warned.
“Hey guys,” David interjected. “Let’s not think about work. We’re here to relax, right?”
“I can’t help it,” Abby said, squeezing Bert again. “I just can’t believe it’s been four months.”
Tim sighed in agreement and closed his eyes again.
David thought about what to do for a few minutes. He looked at Tim, then up at Abby. They were both miserable, and sitting here watching a movie they both knew by heart wasn’t helping. They needed to do something. Something new, something constructive. Then the lightbulb went on.
“Ok, let’s go,” David said while getting up.
Tim sat up as the other man moved. “What do you mean?”
“You two need to get up and do something to take your minds off of all this,” David said as he turned off the movie. “Come on, get changed. I have an idea.”
“We only have two lightsabers, and we already dueled,” Tim said lazily.
He pulled Tim and Abby to their feet.
“I’ve got something better,” he said with a smile, then headed upstairs to change.
They were too intrigued to object, so they too got changed and followed David out the door. Abby quickly went back to grab her ‘Caf-POW!’ but ran back out. They sprinted through the biting cold and snow to David’s car, and he drove without revealing their destination. David drove them into town, and it didn’t take Tim long to figure out that they were parking in front of David’s bakery. It was nearly 2200, and the shop was closed.
David unlocked the door, then went over to the wall panel to key in the security code. Tim locked the door behind him and saw the store light up as David flicked the switches behind the counter.
The front of the store was small with only a couple of counters made with a smooth light wood, and there was a large gap in the middle between the pastry display and the cashier’s counter. There was a pair of small tables in front along with a bench that went up to the pastry display. The walls were red brick to match the exterior, the floors were a stone-like laminate tile, and the tables were wrought iron patio-type tables with matching chairs paired with red Christmas-themed cushions. There was also an old orange loveseat that sat against the wall with a little coffee table in front of it. Decorations hung around the inside brought extra light from the ceilings and windows.
Behind the pastry display, there was a small island where there were two large coffee brewers. David moved over to one and began setting up coffee to brew on the caffeinated side. Tim and Abby stayed on the customer side of the counters, not sure if they were supposed to follow David or not.
Tim eventually asked, “David, what’s going on? Why are we here?”
“Well, you two have given me more than a little glimpse into your work life, and I figured it’s time I did the same.”
Abby’s face lit up, and Tim’s was slowly catching up.
“I’m going to teach you both how to bake your troubles away,” David said with a proud smile and led them back to the kitchen.