A/N: It's back on! It still amazes me, how long it takes me to update my stories! This one in particular, which is gonna be a long one (for my standards), around 20 chapters. So chapter seven concluded the first act, you enter now the second one. This chapter takes place a year later. It's more light-hearted but drama is around the corner! Enjoy! (hopefully!)

Dedicated to: 24isthebest and Jess. Thanks for the reviews!

Chapter eight: Yet another step

The only movement perceptible in Kate's room was from his hand, twirling in her blonde hair in a never-ending fashion. Her head was lying on his chest, one arm swung around him, her body pressed against his side. They had been staying that way for some time, never quite falling asleep. Jack smiled slightly as he saw her wiggle a little to readjust herself against him and reveled in the feeling. Who knew it could be so simple, so easy to reach those small oases of calm happiness?

They had been silent for a while and consequently he was about to drift off when she said his name softly.

- Jack?

- Mmm?

- You awake?

- Mostly…

- Well, I wanted to ask you something I've thought about for a quite some time. But it can wait…

- No it's ok. What is it?

- … Do you want to move in with me?

His hand stopped its massage and carefully untangled itself from the soft curls. He reached for the bedside lamp and turned it on, sitting up as he did so. He silently watched her sit up as well and run her hand in her hair in a vain attempt to straight it up. She was avoiding his gaze and once again he found himself smiling as he noticed her rosy cheeks and shy air. God, I just adore that about her. How can she still be so unsure of herself? he thought. The hand that had been resting in the small of her back made its way to her chin and he gently turned her face so her eyes could meet his. He leaned forward and delicately pressed his lips against her temple and pulled her closer to him, enveloping her in his arms. He softly whispered an "of course" in her ear and immediately he felt her body relax.

- Really? Jack that's just so great! I mean, I didn't know how you'd react or if it was too soon and

- Kate, stop! There's no need for excuses or explanations here. You just asked it before I did. Frankly I had thought about it too.

- You did?

- Yeah. When you look at it, we're spending almost every night here anyway. And I know Kim would like to have her own place now. Well the apartment has been pretty hers in the past few months but we should make it official. It'll simplify everything.

- That is true. Although I'm not that sure that Kim will like it. The independence, I know she'll love but letting go of her daddy, that's another thing. You know, it's kind of funny how protective she is with you.

- I've pointed it out to her, but she still believes she has to take care of me now like she had to when I was discharged from the hospital. That's another good reason for me to move, to put some distance between us.

- Let's hope she sees it that way…

- I say let's sleep and hope will be for tomorrow! We both have to work in a few hours.

- OK fine! One last thing…

- Better be important…

- I love you.

Jack was switching the light off when he heard her say those words. He turned around to face her, locking his eyes into hers. It wasn't the first time she had said it but it always made him feel like it was. With this small sentence, she would always make him feel like redemption was possible, like she was his angel, here to give him another chance at life. His gaze wandered across her figure, noticing how ravishing she looked in that little black nightie. He cupped her face and kissed her deeply, murmuring I love you's between kisses. He lowered her on the bed as she wrapped her arms around his neck and all thoughts of sleep were forgotten.

Two weeks later

Kate was standing in the middle of what looked more like a battlefield and less like the tidy living room she remembered. Open boxes laid all over the floor and the coffee table and there were piles of clothes everywhere. A laptop was threatening to fall off the top of the TV. Before it did she picked it up and looked around for a safer place to put it. As she failed to do so, she sit on the arm of the couch, basically the only spot still free of stuff, put the computer on her lap and let out a big sigh. "I've forgotten how much I hate moving, even when I'm not the one who's doing it!" she thought. She looked up to watch Kim hurry into the house, carrying a impressive number of books in her arms, which she dumped in the hallway with an apologetic smile to Kate, before exiting as fast as she had entered. "At least she seems happy about this whole thing."

Kim's reaction to the idea of Jack moving with Kate had been quite unexpected. He had decided to tell her alone, still uncertain of the way she felt towards Kate. Sure, she had warmed up to her but sometimes she still regarded her as a stranger. He didn't want any possible unpleasant remarks to be heard by anyone but him. Surprisingly she responded with much enthusiasm to the plan. Apparently every advantage had been obvious to her as well so there was little resistance from her part. From the exception of the inevitable discussion about who gets to keep which DVD or CD, the transition went smoothly. And now it was the last step, the worst one, the unpacking.

Kate got up, secured the laptop between two boxes and went for the door, nearly bumping into Jack and Kim, both carrying what she hoped were the last of the boxes. She relieved Kim of her load and headed for the bedroom, followed closely by Jack. She put the box on the floor and just let herself fall on the bed. She flashed Jack a tired smile when he entered, before closing her eyes and fully extending herself across the covers. The sound of his voice prevented her from falling asleep right there.

- You're tired, aren't you? Discouraged? Having second thoughts about this?

- Yes, a little bit and no, respectively. I just wish the stuff could simply transport and place itself. I hate that part of moving in with someone.

- Well, I'll do most of it if that'll comfort you. After all, I'm the one who's invading your territory here.

- Yeah, my place looks like Normandy since you arrived!

- Won't be that way for long, I promise. Stay here. Kim and I will take care of all the things that go in the living room or the kitchen so you'll have some time to rest.

She nodded in response, her eyes already closed back. Just as she was starting to relax, she felt her cell buzz in her pocket. "Predictable! Is there any chance for some "me" time today?" she thought as she flipped the phone open.

- Kate Warner.

- Hi Kate. It's Michelle.

- Oh hi Michelle, how are you?

- Fine and you? The unpacking's going well?

- Call me tomorrow to see if I survived it! Seriously it's not that bad but there's still much to do.

- That's what I thought. I have a suggestion. Danny was supposed to come see us but he couldn't make it. So Tony and I are free for the rest of the day. He has made enough food for a regiment so we could come help you out and we'd bring dinner as well. Kind of a housewarming gift if you will.

- That would be very nice. Thanks so much!

- It's nothing. We'll be there in about 20 minutes, will that be fine?

- It's perfect. Thanks again!

She closed the phone, stood up quickly and got out of the bedroom, this good news giving her a burst of energy. She contemplated the extreme state of messiness her house was in, turned away from the sad sight and caught Jack staring at her with a playful smile on his face. She walked over to him, thinking "This is all temporary. Like the song says, the best is yet to come!"