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A Water Tower For Humanity

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It’s only twenty after five, but it’s almost completely dark out already. Tim is reminded of winters at Harvard, where the street lights turned on at 4:30 from November till March. It’s brighter than it could be though, the clouds softly dropping snow on his head also bouncing back all the lights of the city.

“C’mon McGee! There are carolers on the next corner!” Abby yells back over her shoulder at him. It’s busy on the street, street performers trying to make a little extra Christmas cash sprinkled among the office workers in long peacoats and the more colorful power shoppers. Tim can barely see Abby’s pigtails through the sea of big shoulders.

“Wait a second! Abby!” Tim gives in trying to wait for her to come back, dashing forward and dodging the crowd till he can grasp her mittened hand.

“This is soooo cool McGee! I can’t believe you took me Christmas shopping on the Magnificent Mile! You’re too sweet!” Abby leans up and kisses his cheek, practically vibrating she’s so happy.

“Well.” Tim can’t stop grinning himself; this had been a such good idea. “I couldn’t leave you there, moping around the lab. Your pigtails were drooping.” And so was the rest of her. The last couple of cases had been rough for Abby, in a way that mostly they weren’t. Too many victims too close to home.

“I couldn’t take it! It was going to rain all Christmas week! Stupid DC weather.” The pout on Abby’s face doesn’t last long against the onslaught of cheer around her. “Oooo! Roasted chestnuts!”

The chestnuts are golden in their paper bag and starchy-sweet on the tongue, warming them inside and out. McGee had anticipated Abby ‘helping’ him spend a lot of money in the famous shops up and down Michigan Avenue (Christmas was as good excuse as any to give his family team something they deserved,) but so far she’d been content with walking down the street, ‘Ooo-ing’ and ‘Ahhhh-ing’ at the window displays.

It was nice. No murders, crime scenes, suspects, or victims; just him, Abby, and a street full of people thinking about gifts and family and perfect white snow.

“Oh. OH! McGee, let’s go in there!” Abby latched on to his coat sleeve and pulled him forward across the street.

“In where?” There was only a park with some bare trees on the other side of the road. The buildings around the park loomed above, making the white… castle… in the center look short and skinny in comparison. Abby slowed down as they entered the park, the enchantment of the place taking a hold of Tim’s mind. The trees were strung with white lights, and the new-fallen snow was unbroken under their feet. They even had the park pretty much to themselves, the hustle and bustle of the cars and pedestrians cut by just the few feet of separation. It was an idyll secreted in a cheerful scene.

“See that tower McGee?”

“Yeah. It’s right there. Not very tall for a tower though.”

“Well, it’s pretty old. Back when it was built it was taller than most things around it. It’s the Water Tower. After the fire in 1871 it was the only thing standing for a couple of miles.”

“Oh.” McGee blinked at the tower. “Really?”

“Yup!” Abby looked up at him, snowflakes melting on her eyelashes. “Seeing it there still standing in the wreckage was a symbol of hope, of human persistence and tenacity after the worst nature could throw at us.” Tim’s watching as she turns her face towards the top of the tower. “It’s really… appropriate, you know, for the season. Hope for Christmas and the New Year.”

“Yeah.” McGee can feel a gentle smile on his face, softer than the grin that Abby’s happiness has been reflecting there all afternoon. “It’s definitely a good symbol for us.”

“Oh?” Abby raises an eyebrow at him.

“HUMANS. I meant that you’re right, it’s a good symbol for humanity.” Victim’s families’ flash through his head, spouses, siblings, and parents bearing up under their grief to help NCIS. “No matter how bad it gets, we’re still standing afterwards.”

They sit on a wooden bench for awhile and finish off the nuts as the last of the blue light fades from the sky, basking in their bubble of hope and companionship. The tower’s spotlights and the misty air help highlight it against the high city backdrop.

“Alright! Enough of that.” Abby bounces up out of the bench and pulls him up after. “There’s a Ghirardelli’s over there, I want hot chocolate! It’s so good, they make it from shaved bits of chocolate and milk.”

“Ok, okay!” It really had been a great idea; it was awesome to see Abby excited about life. “Wait up!”