A/N: For those of you who might balk at the idea of a Former Forensic Tech becoming an Assistant M.E. - Please remember that it was Ducky, himself, who reminded the team that a Medical Degree was not a requirement for the job.

However, I do realize, in hindsight, that i failed to take Ruby's creditentials as far as I should have, to qualify her for the job - choosing instead to let Gibbs' choosing her in his recommendations to Ducky, to speak for it self.

I do hope that clarifies any confusion on the matter - if there was any.

And now...


EPILOGUE

Ducky awoke on this his first day of retired living unusually late but with no worries on his mind. He'd had much to worry and ponder about here lately, in the last month of his working life but thankfully, all of that had literally worked itself out in one way or another.

The initial concerns he had about how the MCRT would take to Ruby were quickly proven to be nothing to worry about. Jethro had been correct about her and about how his team would quickly take to working with her. Their previous working experience with the beautiful red-headed, confident woman, served them all well. Even Abby took to her a lot smoother and with less ruffled feathers than she'd taken to Ziva back in the day.

Ducky had to laugh at that thought. He was fairly certain that once Jimmy realized he could not, in all good conscience, date his assistant, Timothy might just move in and ask the young woman out. Jethro had said he remembered the young man being sweet on her when they worked that case with her out in Edenvale. He'd also assured the M.E. that he wouldn't interfere or consider it breaking Rule #12, so long as they kept it out of the office.

Still the former M.E. couldn't help but wonder how all of that would go over with Abigail. Shaking his head at the thought of that not ending well, he set those thoughts aside. No sense worrying about something that wasn't going to happen for quite a while yet.

Enjoying his light breakfast of a second cup of tea with his honey and toast, Ducky had to smile as he realized even in the final days before his last one at NCIS, he'd still had worrisome things on his mind, yet the night of his retirement party had shred the last problem without even a raised voice. Smiling with the recollection now, he let the memory wash through him.

***FLASHBACK****

"Hey, Timmy!" Abby greeted him.

"Hey, great job on the party decorations."

"Thanks. Hey. Ducky tells me you're staying at his place. Are you there for medical reasons? Or is it Ducky that needs to be watched out for?"

"Neither, Abby. I promise. I'm looking for a bigger place and while I'm looking, Ducky offered to let me stay with him because he's got the space and doesn't mind the company as much as he minds the empty house without it."

"Oh. That's great, Timmy. I'm happy you two can help each other out like that."

"Abby. I'm sure he won't mind you coming to see him as often as you'd like."

"I know. But it won't be the same. Not by a long shot."

"No. It won't, that's for sure. But at least we've had time to work out the initial kinks that having someone different in his position, right? And look at how well Ruby is working out."

"Are you saying you're not gonna miss him here at work?" She asked him with a touch of anger.

"Of course not, Abby." Tim looked at her in shock.

"Or are you just happy that you have Ruby to chase after. I remember how you were sweet on her the last time."

"Abby. I am interested in her. But I won't rush into it. Besides, if and when I ask Ruby if she's interested, it will be her choice and I'd appreciate it if you stayed out of it. You and I are friends. That's it. Right? That's the way you wanted it, remember?"

"Abby." Gibbs stepped up and interrupted the private conversation taking place outside away from the crowd.

"Hey, Gibbs!" Abby greeted. "Hey, Ducky!"

"Abby, give us a minute, will ya?"

"Sure, Bossman."

"McGee. "

"Boss?"

"You been stayin' at Ducky's?"

"Yes."

"Good."

Tim nodded silently, accepting the boss' approval for what it was.

"Wanted to tell you for a while now. Guess I just forgot."

Tim cocked his head to show he was listening.

"The night you took that beating from that dirtbag. Wasn't you I was pissed at."

Again, Tim nodded, this time obviously too shocked that this was coming back now and with an apology that undoubtedly would have meant the world to him in the midst of the situation, to hide the fact that it meant the world to him now as well. After a minute, he offered something in return. "Thanks, Boss."

Now it was Gibbs turn to nod before he spoke once more. "One more thing, McGee. When Vance split the team; you were following orders. Nothin' wrong with that. Still part of my team."

Tim was truly shocked at that statement and he obviously had to think back to even realize what the boss was getting at. All of a sudden, it became apparent that he recalled what he needed to in order to get what had just been said. His very quiet "Thank you." resonated with the emotion curled up with that experience.

But Gibbs wasn't quite finished yet. "You belong to me, Tim. Nothing will ever change that." With a clasp of his hand to Tim's shoulder, the silver-haired Team Leader was gone,into the night, having had all of the party he could handle.

***End Flashback****

Getting to his feet now, and taking himself to his library, Ducky withdrew a book from his shelf and opened it. Life was grand. Of that he was certain. With his retirement just beginning, Timothy here to keep him company, his place at work now competently being handled by Mr. Palmer and the MCRT unwilling to let him go completely from their lives, he had no complaints.

Life wasn't just good; it was golden. These were, after all, the beginning of his golden years.

~~FINIS~~


A great big 'thank you' goes out to all my loyal readers/reviewers who stayed with me for this story.

Your readership and support is greatly appreciated.

Thank you!