By far not my first fanfic, but it's my first NCIS fic which I thought could be posted without blowing the servers. This is chapter 1 of 4 of a completed story, so updates are guaranteed.

Pairing: Kibbs. Mutual attraction, but nothing X-rated.

Timing: Takes place between seasons 1 and 2.

Disclaimer: I don't own them (although I've got Gibbs on by birthday wishlist), and I'm not making any money writing about them.

It was a quiet day. Gibbs had Tony and her catch up on administrative duties, but she had a hard time concentrating. So when the boss had gone out for coffee, she sneaked down to Autopsy. Not for a case, not for evidence, but for her own peace of mind. Apart from tsunami of trivia, Ducky could also have very helpful insights sometimes.

So there she was. The steel-and-glass doors slid open and she strolled in, arms wrapped around her chest against the chill that always hung down here. At the far table, Dr Mallard was staring at bits and pieces of flesh displayed on the slab before him. On the other side of the table, Jimmy Palmer was fishing more pieces from a large vat.

"Hey, Ducky," she greeted the old ME as she approached him. "Still working on that meat puzzle?"

Dr Mallard looked up when he heard her and then turned to greet her. "Ah, Kate. Yes, well, as you can see, whoever did this isn't making it easy for me to piece the poor fellow together."

"Oh, so you know it's a man, then?"

"Hmm, I haven't got enough to be sure either way, but I can hardly call him 'it', now can I?"

She shrugged. "I suppose that would be a bit…harsh."

"Precisely. And he's met with enough harshness and cruelty already, I'd say." He turned back at the table and picked up one of the pieces for closer examination. "Aah, Mr Palmer? Evidence jar, if you please."

"Yes, doctor." Jimmy did as he was told and held the small jar up for the doctor to drop the piece in.

"Mr Palmer, bring this up to Abby for analysis," Ducky ordered his assistant. "There's a slight discolouration I can't place. Perhaps she can find something that can help us get a step closer to identifying the poor soul." He watched his assistant rushing up to forensics and then looked back at his visitor. "Is there anything I can do for you, Kate? You seem troubled."

She shrugged and leaned back against a clean table. "I don't know, Ducky. A lot has happened lately."

"Yes, indeed. All that hassle with Ari abducting you, on top of what happened before, down here." He nodded at the autopsy room as a whole. "I can imagine it's hard for you."

Kate nodded. "Yeah, I guess. But that's not what's bothering me, really. Now we've got a name, it's only a matter of time before Gibbs gives Ari his just dessert. No, I don't think I'm as worried about him as everyone thinks I should be."

Dr Mallard smiled at her. "In that case: what is bothering you, Caitlin?"

"Oh, where to begin," she sighed. She took a moment to sift through the mud that was her thoughts, and then looked up at the ceiling. "I guess I'm falling for someone."

"Aha," Ducky grinned. "The oldest ailment. I could tell you dozens of stories on the subject, but frankly yours is currently the only one of interest. So who's the lucky man?"

Kate felt herself blushing. "It's not like that, really."


"It's kind of one-sided thing."

"Unrequited love," Dr Mallard shook his finger at her. "My dear, what are you getting yourself into? You should know better. You're not Tony."

She laughed. "No I'm not, thank God!" Still she blushed slightly. "I can't help it, though. You see, I've met this guy a while ago. At first everything was normal. Friendly, but nothing special. But then I started to feel weird being around him, or worse, not being around him."

"And does this gentleman know how you feel?"

"I hope not!" she exclaimed. "No, no, he shouldn't. There's no way it'd work out."

The way Ducky folded his arms told her he was really getting into this conversation. "Really? And why is that? A forbidden love, perhaps?"

"Maybe. I'm not sure. It's just…" she was getting nervous. Maybe telling someone about this wasn't a good idea. But she couldn't stop herself either. She just had to get it off her chest before she'd explode. "It's just that he's who he is and I am who I am."

"A mismatch of character?" the ME frowned. "I do hope it doesn't have anything to do with why you didn't stab Ari back then."

Her eyes flew open when she realised what he was implying. "No! Absolutely not! The guy I'm talking about is straight as an arrow. In every way of the word." She sagged a little. "No, it's more of an age issue, really."

Ducky pursed his lips. "Age issue? Is he that much younger?"

She shook her head. "No, older actually. No idea by how much, but I think he's definitely old enough to be my father."

"Is that so wrong?"

"Yes! No! God, I don't know..." She pulled her fingers roughly through her hair. "Hell, if Tony ever gets wind of this…"

"Not from me, I promise." Ducky tried to catch her averted eyes. "So what about this gentleman is troubling you so much? Surely you're mature enough to realise age isn't necessarily a problem in a relationship?"

After a few more moments of hiding, she finally looked at him and sighed. "I know it isn't. It's just something I keep telling myself is a legitimate reason to push it away. If I'd be honest, I'd have to admit he makes me feel comforted. Safe and protected. It's a feeling no other man has ever given me. When I'm with him, I feel like I can take on the world. At first that was enough, but then I started to want to be with him, so I wouldn't lose that feeling. And now… Now I'm not sure if it's about that safe feeling anymore. I think that now it's just about him."

"Then why don't you tell him?"

She shook her head again, defeated. "No, Ducky. That's simply impossible."

"What's impossible?" a new, all too familiar voice suddenly asked over the hydraulic hiss of the opening doors.

Kate looked up in bewilderment, like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car. Seeing Gibbs gaze at her with a genuinely interested look in his eyes, she felt a sudden rush of blood to her face that no doubt made her blush fiercely.

Gibbs frowned slightly. "Something wrong, Kate?"

Unable to hide the obvious despair on her face, she glanced at Ducky, who immediately connected the dots.

"Oh. Oh, my."

Let me know what you think! (I can take critisism, but please be aware that unfounded flames will be used for target practise )