Haggerty's, 3A.M.

She sat at the end of the bar, alone. She'd been there for the past hour and a half, at least since everyone else had gone home, maybe before.

She hadn't spoken a word, minus the occasional request for yet another whiskey sour from the bartender who obliged her every wish.

She downed her drinks hard and fast. It was anything but ladylike yet she was still as sexy as hell.

He watched from across the room and memorized the details of her pained faced, her sad but delicate features.

His eyes were drawn to her hands as she fiddled idly with the red plastic straw in her glass, the ice clinking around in the heavy tumbler as she waited.

She always looked like she was waiting for something, but what it was he didn't know.

He'd been watching her a lot lately, analyzing her every move.

And when she spoke to him, he lingered on every last word.

He couldn't stop thinking about her.

About how much he wanted to be with her. About how much he wanted to see her happy.

He wanted to see her smile, but she was sad.

That much was painfully obvious in the dark circles that had appeared under her once bright eyes, in the worry lines that creased her forehead more than they ever had before.

He found it ironic that it had taken so many negatives for him to finally understand her.

It had taken him almost losing his job, Alex's death, her discovery of what Aaron Noble really was for Carlos Nieto see what Kim Zambrano was really made of.

She was tough as nails and soft and scared all the same.

She wasn't a bimbo like he'd once thought.

There was a lot more behind the false front everybody saw. In that way, he saw a lot of himself in her.

And tonight, he sat alone with his thoughts and his alcohol just as she did.

At Haggerty's, at 3 am.

The only difference between the two was that he doubted she'd ever think of him the way he thought of her.

He felt like they'd really connected in the past months but was afraid it was only in his mind.

He'd made that mistake already and she'd rejected him before. He didn't expect a different ending this time around.

The normal pickup lines ran through his head. He had at least a million; tried at least half. But none were right. Not for this girl.

Not for Kim Zambrano.

He wanted to make his move, but didn't want her to break his heart.

So he continued to watch her every action and as she downed another whiskey sour he took two vodka shots of his own.

Maybe it was the alcohol or a final desperate attempt *not* to go home alone, but in the end, he decided to make his presence known.

He stood on wobbly legs, half shaky from the nerves, half from too much to drink.

He slid his chair under the table, each motion slow and deliberate.

The background faded as he moved in on his target, his eyes never leaving Kim.

He walked closer still, stood behind her and watched as she toyed with the straw and the ice. The clanking echoed in his head, louder and louder, and the rhythm matched the intense beating of his heart.

"Hey," he said finally, all other words lost on his tongue, and froze as she spun around.

The barstool creaked with her movement and he held his breath as he waited for her response.

He was shocked to see her whole face brighten with the realization that she was not alone.

"I thought everyone was gone," she whispered, leaning back just long enough to deposit her glass on the bar.

"I almost didn't come over," he admitted and took a step back. Despite her apparently delight, he was afraid close was too close.

He couldn't have been happier when she placed a soft hand on his arm, skillfully preventing his escape as she stood and removed herself from the barstool.

"I'm glad you're here," she said, her lips curving upwards in a rare smile as she loomed close. "I'm tired of being alone."

She tasted like Jack Daniels and sour mix, but the kiss was sweeter than he ever could have imagined.