"Gibbs."

He didn't look up, knowing she was leaning against his desk. He focused on his case file, refusing to give in and look up. "Agent Todd."

"I need a favour." She lowered her voice as she asked, as though hoping that no one would overhear her. It was odd, just because the squad room was practically empty as it was, the moon high in the sky over the Navy Yard. DiNozzo and McGee had already bowed out for the night, DiNozzo chasing down some new long-legged blonde and McGee going home to his computer. He didn't know why Kate wasn't off on her own date, though surprisingly grateful that she was currently unattached.

She could focus on her work without any distractions.

"Gibbs, this is a request I never thought I'd be making, but-," she took a deep breath, and he cut in, feeling something curl up in him and die, anticipating her request.

"Are you resigning, Agent Todd?"

She blinked, stunned at the question. "What? No! No, I'm not resigning. Why would I resign?"

"You were uh- pretty shaken up after that last case." A Marine's daughter had gone missing, and they'd gotten there too late, only just in time to find her body. He'd rarely seen Kate so shaken.

"Gibbs. We've seen worse." Her voice was quiet, and they locked eyes for a second. He could see she was biting her lip, obviously nervous. He wasn't sure exactly what she had to be nervous about. He didn't presume she was ballsy enough to be asking him on a date (he could hope), so the question remain: what could she possibly want? "It's just that… Damn it Gibbs. I can't seem to spit it out, so-,"

"Kate, if you're gonna ramble at me, I'm too tired for this. Just say what you wanna say."

"This isn't exactly the place," she made a face, gesturing at the squad room.

"Then why'd you bring it up?" he snapped, and regretted it instantly. Kate flinched away from his desk, and stared, undeniably hurt. She shook her head, and walked back to her desk, leaning against it and watching him.

"Forget it, Gibbs." She grabbed her coat from her desk chair. "I should have expected that you couldn't help me anyway. This isn't exactly your forte."

He stood up. "Kate ya gotta try and explain." She rolled her eyes and started walking out of the bullpen, before gasping in surprise as he grabbed her wrist and turned her around to face him. "Kate. Are ya in some kind of trouble?"

She snorted. "Nothing you can help me with."

"Are you in danger?"

"No, Gibbs. It's really a dumb request, and I could probably ask Tony, even though he'd lord it over me for the rest of my natural life, or Tim who would be so awkward that it wouldn't work anyway-,"

"Kate." He cut her off, and raised his eyebrows. "You got somethin' to say to me?"

"Can you pretend to be my boyfriend?" The words spilled out, and his mouth dropped open, staring at her.

What. What had she just asked? She wanted him to pretend to be her boyfriend? That didn't make any sense. Why was his usually sensible Agent Todd (who was not his as he liked to pretend) making such an insane request? Had she lost her mind? "Uh."

"Always the articulate one." She rolled her eyes, so he made an effort.

"Kate, what the hell are ya asking me?"

"I want you to pretend to be my boyfriend. And before you say anything, no I don't mean actually date me. I know that's not happening." Wait. Had she wanted that to happen? She sounded disappointed, but he tried to pay attention to why. "So every year my family has this crazy big reunion in Florida, because my sister organizes it, and she lives in Florida. And my mom has been nagging me and nagging me for at least a decade now about why I haven't settled down or gotten in a serious relationship, and then she asked me if I had a date this year, and all my siblings are married, so I kind of snapped, told her I had a date, so I'm in a bit of a bind-,"

"Yes." He'd made up his mind watching her ramble on, looking more and more upset. "You really lied to your mom about having a date?"

"You haven't met my mother, Gibbs. She's so- bleh." She stuck her tongue out, and his heart pounded as he realized what he'd just agreed to.

"So uh- when is this get together?"

"Next week."

He stared her down, crossing his arms. "And you're mentionin' it now?"

"I gave you my leave request like a month ago!" she protested, and he grinned.

"Teasin' ya, Kate."

"Oh." She bit her lip again.

"So, you're telling me that you go down to Florida for a week at the beginning of summer?"

"Yeah. Pretty much."

"Isn't it hot?"

"Yes. Pack some short shorts."

Gibbs made a face, but then his inner teenager caused him to do some blurting out of his own, "You gonna be in short shorts, Kate?"

She giggled, and the sound lifted his heart. It was the first time he'd seen her smile since the case had started. "Depends."

"On what?"

"On who I'm bringing with me."

"It's me of course. Did you have a plan if you were unsuccessful in ambushing me?"

She grinned down at him, "Wow, Gibbs, don't think I've ever heard you use that many big words in one sentence."

He made a face. "Shut up."

"Well you know, if I couldn't find a date… I guess I'd come clean."

He looked at her sideways. "And if I turn you down? Or report you to HR?"

"You won't report me." She was smug.

"Wanna bet?" They locked eyes again, and neither broke eye contact, the seconds ticking away as she crossed her arms. He may have his death glare on lock, but she wasn't afraid to fight back. She raised an eyebrow and smirked.

"You owe me, Gibbs."

"How so?"

"I took a bullet for you. Now it's your turn to return the favor, hmm?"

"Agent Todd, are you…" Blackmailing didn't seem to be the right term, "Coercing me into playing your boyfriend by pulling the loyalty card?"

"Gibbs, so smart. How you aren't Director yet is beyond me."

"Don't sass me, Agent Todd. I haven't said yes yet."

She turned and walked away, "Just tell me you'll do it, and then you get to spend a week on vacation with no one shooting at you. Unless my mom really doesn't like you. Which is possible. But still."

"Oh great." He was sarcastic, but only because he didn't want to say that the idea of even pretending to go out with Caitlin Todd was seriously reducing his functioning brain cells. "Y'know ya didn't have to blackmail me, Kate, ya coulda just asked."

"I learned from the best, Gibbs, so if you don't like my tactics, maybe you should change how you're doing things."

"Hard to teach an old dog new tricks."

"I think the dog can learn new tricks, it just depends on the tricks." She grinned at the thought as she packed up her bag for the night.

"And how do I explain to the Director that I'm taking the week off?"

"I don't know. Tell him you're going undercover to learn how to be a normal human man."

"You didn't have to take the bullet for me, Kate."

"And let you die? No way."

"I'm serious." His voice was quiet.

"Are you just trying to get out of doing this?"

"You know me so well."

"Give me a medal," she retorted.

"They already gave you one." He grinned. "Doesn't mean I'll be listenin' to what you have to say."

"And why not?"

"Because honored you may be, but your seniority is in the exact same spot where it was before you took that bullet."

She pulled her coat on, "At least I didn't pick DiNozzo."

"Why didn't you pick him again?"

"Because I could never look him in the eye again, and I prefer to leave my dignity intact when this is over."

"Huh. Well Kate, you should know." He lowered his voice to a conspiratorial whisper. "Ya lost your dignity around me when ya threw up in my evidence bag."

She rolled her eyes so hard he was sure her head hurt, and left. "Good night Gibbs."

"Hey if you're datin' me, shouldn't we be goin' home together?"

She turned around and stared. "God. No."

"Then maybe ya shoulda asked DiNozzo."

"Good night Gibbs."