She keeps a box. It's the one she used in school to collect the money during their annual cookies' sale. She was always the best.
She remembers one day when she was six, she came back from school claiming that from this day she was officially a 'reader'. So she went in the kitchen, opened her mother's favorite recipe book and made cookies for everyone.
When time came to bake the cookies, she called her mother and was immediately sent in her room for using ingredients and 'dangerous kitchen utensil' without permission.
The same evening, her mother came in her bedroom, delivered her a tight hug and a sweet kiss and whispered in her hair that she was proud of her little girl who'd been able to read and understand a recipe alone and made the most delicious cookies she'd ever eaten.
Since that day, her school's 'annual cookies' sale' had always been little Katie Todd's favorite day, during which she proudly filled her box with dollars people happily gave her to taste one of her 'fabulous cookies'.
It's the same box, she doesn't know why, she doesn't know exactly what it means and she doesn't question her own actions.
It's just the same. It's a metal box, she's never tried to decorate it, never put stickers on it, even as a little girl, it's just a cold gray box.
It's always locked, she keeps the key with her, on her, every time, even when she showers, she keeps it on the same chain that holds her cross. When she comes out of the shower and bends to catch a towel, it bumps against her heart and she feels warm.
She keeps the box and opens it every time she misses him so much she feels like her heart is actually bleeding.
It isn't filled with money anymore but what it contains is a lot more precious. Little symbols of the part of her life in which she is Caitlin.
When she thinks about it, she realizes there are actually three people, still alive, who keep calling her Caitlin, her mother 'cause she'd chosen this name for her and refuses to call her anything else, Ducky and Ari.
Often, when Ducky calls her by her given name, she thinks about Ari and wonders how the man she sees and loves like a father would react if he knew.
In a strange way, it would be worse for her to disappoint him than Gibbs, she doesn't exactly know why but she knows it. So she wonders, if he saw what's in the box, what would he think ? What would he feel ?
There's only a few things, not their whole life, but that's enough.
First of all, there's this drawing, she remembers perfectly that day. He came back from a mission somewhere – she'd never asked – he was drained and dirty, she ran him a bath and when he took his shoes off, sand from another continent fell all over her bathroom's floor. Half an hour later, he got out of the tub, walked toward her bedroom, heavily fell on her new mattress and immediately fell asleep, naked, on her bed. She looked at him, for a few minutes, from the doorway of her room then silently picked her sketchbook up and drawn one of the most beautiful and strangely comforting sight she'd seen in a long time.
Later she folded the piece of paper in four and put it in the box that reminds her so much of her childhood.
This box also contains a little silver key. She treasures this little object more than anything else 'cause it's the key that opens the front door of his only real 'home', his apartment in Tel-Aviv. He gave it to her the day after she told him she loved him for the first time as she quietly fell asleep in his arms.
They both know she'll probably never use this key, never see the apartment, at least not before a long time, but it doesn't really matter, she's got the key and she's welcome in his home, that's enough for her.
Beside the drawing and the key is her last treasure, an old orchid.
Every time she's looking at it, she remembers lying in a hospital bed, she'd been shot during a case and when she woke up the next morning, she found a dozen of orchids with an unsigned note "I wish I was with you".
That day, she understood that wherever he was, he would always keep an eye on her and it was a comforting thought that even thousands miles away from her, he would take care of her.
When he came back a few weeks later, she'd fully recovered. She opened the door, he pulled her in a tight hug, picked her up, carried her to her bed and hadn't let her leave the room all night long.
It was his way of reassuring himself that she was actually alive, with him, that she didn't die weeks ago and that he wasn't far away from DC recreating a fantasy, alone in bed.
It was his way of showing her how much he needed her and they both knew it, so she took
everything and enjoyed every moment of this night.
When the orchids started to fade and the nurse had wanted to throw them away, she'd picked one up and kept it with her.
She knows that now the flower is withered but she doesn't complain and she doesn't remove it from the box, it belongs there.
Every time she puts the metal box away, she checks three times that it's actually closed, then she puts it in the third drawer of her desk which she keeps closed too.
She knows it's dangerous to keep it at work, it's a risk she takes but can't actually explain.
Maybe it's because her work, just like his, takes most of her time. She spends more time at work than in her apartment just like he spends more time out of the USA than here with her.
Their jobs are very demanding and they're well aware of that.
It's their jobs that brought them together and it's their jobs that keep them apart so often.
So if she wants to survive the pain of not having him every time she wants him, she needs, at least, a little part of him.
So she keeps that box and everyday hopes, as hell, she wouldn't have to open it, he would be there.