The chime letting Kelly know someone was heading down the drive rang, jarring him into alertness. He'd been sitting on the back deck, staring out into the woods and enjoying the peace and quiet. He ran his hands through his hair, trying to figure out who would be heading up unannounced.
He tensed slightly and headed through the cabin to the front door, just in time to see a nondescript delivery van trundling up through the tree line. He ducked back inside to grab a sidearm and tuck it into the waistband of his jeans, wondering when he'd become so suspicious.
Wary, he leaned against the railing of the front porch, watching the delivery guy struggle with an impossibly huge box. The guy was young, and clearly gawky and inept, and Kelly let his guard down, hopping down the stairs to help him.
"Kelly Abbott?" The guy looked down at the work order, and back up at Kelly, smiling awkwardly. Kelly grinned at him.
"S'me. I'm pretty sure I'd remembering ordering a giant box though. What's in it?"
The delivery guy shrugged as he manoeuvred the box onto the sandy edge of the driveway. "No idea, I just deliver 'em. No return address either."
Kelly frowned, studying the huge box. He nudged it with a toe while signing the clipboard the delivery guy handed him.
"You need help getting it inside?" He asked, the look on his face making it clear he was asking out of obligation more than any actual urge to help. Kelly shook his head and hefted the box carefully. It wasn't terribly heavy -- just cumbersome.
"I'm good, thanks." He stood in the drive until the delivery van was out of sight, and then headed back into the cabin with the package.
He set the box in the middle of the kitchen floor, trying to decide what to do with it. It was too big to be something dangerous, nobody in their right mind would send such an enormous box if they were trying to catch him off guard. Eventually he shrugged and reached for one of the kitchen knives and began carefully slicing the packing tape open.
There was no note, and the box was filled with foam packing peanuts. Kelly cursed as they spilled out onto the floor, making an unholy mess. The peanuts were protecting a large, lopsided bundle of bubble wrap. Kelly sighed and steadily began pulling off layer after layer of wrap, only giving in to the impulse to pop bubbles once or twice.
As the bubble wrap thinned out, Kelly thought he could make out a fuzzy leg with a cloven hoof here, a stubby little horn there. He groaned inwardly, ripping through the plastic as his suspicions were confirmed.
Within minutes, a large, fluffy, adorable stuffed goat revealed itself. Cackling, Kelly set it on the counter and studied it from all sides. There was no note in the bottom of the box either, but there was also no doubt who the ridiculous thing had come from.
Grumbling, he picked up his phone and dialled Nick, but not before turning the damned thing around so it wasn't glaring at him maliciously.
Nick answered on the second ring. He was trying to sound bored and innocent, but Kelly could hear the muffled amusement in his voice.
"Fuck you, Lucky."
"What'd I do this time?" Nick asked with feigned innocence.
"There's a fucking stuffed goat on my fucking kitchen counter."
Nick lost it at that, and Kelly found himself laughing too. The situation was just too ridiculous not to find amusing.
"I take no responsibility for the fact that it's on your counter, Doc. That was all you."
"It's staring at me, Nick! It knows what I did!"
Nick burst out laughing again. "You didn't do anything, Kels. You know that as well as I do."
"I hate you so much right now," Kelly muttered, but he was smiling and he was sure Nick knew it. "Next time you crash here, I'm putting it on you while you sleep."
"Promises, promises," Nick said, still snickering. "Anyway, I've gotta go. Middle of a case."
Kelly rolled his eyes. "Stop answering your phone at work, jackass."
With a sigh, he picked up the goat, ignoring its baleful, judgemental stare as he tossed it into the small storage closet on the main floor.
A few weeks later, Nick showed up unexpectedly on the doorstep of Kelly's cabin. Kelly greeted him warmly, unreasonably pleased by the surprise. As Nick settled down on the sofa, Kelly nattered comfortably about anything that crossed his mind. Well, nearly anything. He studiously avoided mentioning the damned goat, and Nick seemed to have put it out of his memory. Kelly tried to tamp down his excitement as they got ready for bed, Nick setting up camp on the sofa on the main floor of the cabin.
"You need anything else?" Kelly asked him, hanging over the railing to the bedroom loft.
Nick shook his head, flopping out on the sofa. For a minute, Kelly debated insisting they share his bed, just because it was more comfortable. Something about the proposition made him nervous though, and he kept quiet instead.
"Go to bed, babe. I'm fine."
Kelly bided his time, reading in bed until he heard Nick stop moving. Stealthily, he crept down the stairs and opened the door to the storage closet. Every ounce of his training came into play as he managed to remove the stuffed goat from the closet without making a sound.
He placed it on the armchair facing Nick's sleeping form, and snuck back upstairs, holding his breath the whole time.
Nick's blood-curdling scream pierced the silence less than ten minutes later, and Kelly burst out laughing, all the tension he'd been holding in coming out at once. He heard Nick storming up the stairs and flopped out on his bed, trying to look innocent, but he couldn't contain his mirth as Nick glared at him in the dark and elbowed his way into Kelly's bed.
"Shove over. I am not fucking sleeping down there," Nick groused, curling up on his side. Kelly shrugged and curled up, throwing one arm over Nick's waist. The familiar gesture comforted them both, and Nick's breath evened out steadily.
"There, there, Nicko. I'll protect you."
"You're crazy, you know that? Messing with a god damned sleeping Marine."
"You started it," Kelly mumbled, his voice going heavy with sleep now that the moment was over.
"We're not done here," Nick said, but the fight had left him. The two of them nodded off peacefully. Kelly would deal with the damned goat when they woke.