DISCLAIMER: NCIS and its characters are the property of CBS, no infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Just a little something I wrote because I wanted to apologize to Ducky. See, he was supposed to be the fourth option in "Different Roads," but... I got lazy. ;-D So here is a very short fic to apologize to him.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Bigger Than a Thistle Bush
By Geonn


Abby rushed into her lab, followed by a reluctant Ducky. "Come on," she said, ushering him to pick up his pace. "We don't have all that much time!"

"Honestly, why do I have to be here?" Ducky plaintively asked. "If Caitlin discovers I was part of this, she'll never forgive me!"

"If you hurry, there's no reason Caitlin has to find out," she promised. He followed her into the inner forensics lab where a brightly-wrapped present sat amid a pile of evidence. "It'll just take a second. I just need you to X-ray this before Kate gets back from the crime scene."

"How did you even get your hands on it?" Ducky asked, taking the present in both hands.

She shrugged. "I saw her bring it in. I kind of peeked when I was up there earlier."

Ducky sighed. "You should really wait until Caitlin presents it to you, you know. Half the fun in giving presents is seeing the reaction!"

"But it's killing me, Ducky! I was always the first kid under the tree on Christmas. Waiting just kills me!"

Ducky sighed and put the package back on the table. "Abigail, have I ever told you of the greatest gift I ever received?"

Abby's face fell. "No," she sighed.

"My mother planted a thistle bush outside my bedroom window. She simply told me on the morning of my birthday and that was that. Several months later, I had forgotten all about them until I looked out my window and saw an explosion of purple thistles in my window. I tell you, Abby, it took my breath away."

Abby tilted her head. "Why thistles?"

"They're the official flower of Scotland!" Ducky said. "Legend has it that it was chosen because a Viking invader stepped upon one and cried out, alerting sentries to his position. Now..."

Abby held up a hand. "Look, Ducky, if you're not going to help me..."

She reached for the present, but Ducky was quicker. He held the present away from her and said, "I want you to think about this, Abby. Is knowing what is in this package just a few hours early worth what you'd be depriving Caitlin? Giving a gift is two-fold, you know."

Abby's shoulders dropped and she stepped forward, taking the present. She looked down at the bow and sighed, shaking her head. "I knew I should've asked Palmer."

Ducky chuckled and smirked, tucking his chin against his chest. "Yes, well..." He tapped the edge of the box and said, "Let me know what it is, hmm?"

"Sure thing, Ducky," she said. He left the room and she looked longingly at the bright wrapping paper. "Conscience is a bitch." She kicked her foot stubbornly and then carried the package back upstairs.

"Happy birthday, Abs," Kate said, brushing a loose hair out of Abby's face.

"Thank you, Kate," Abby said, taking a sip of her champagne. "I don't think I've ever had a birthday quite like this one."

Kate smiled. They were in her living room, sitting on the couch. She had her shoes off, but Abby was still wearing her boots. "So," Kate said, brushing her fingers along Abby's neck. "Do you want to open your present now?"

Abby craned her neck, looking at the table and the present she'd been so obsessed with that afternoon. As she considered her options, she felt Kate nuzzle the back of her neck, lightly kissing the skin above her collar. She closed her eyes and turned around, wrapping her arms around Kate's waist and drawing her down to the cushions. "No. The presents can wait."

Turned out Ducky was right. Who would've thunk it?

The End

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