Final chapter: Serendipity – corny name but sticking with the theme of 's' was hard work.

Nick paced the restroom mumbling to himself and repeatedly slapping his forehead. Nothing of his behavior over the last hour seemed familiar to him. He was usually great at the pick up and flirting stage of a 'relationship', how could he be so bad when it was someone he already had an established relationship with he questioned. He had already prepared himself for that aspect; he knew it would be difficult to go from colleague and friend to something more.

He realized he had stopped seeing Sofia as just one of the guys a long time ago. That shining moment came when the sight of her with a shotgun, didn't provoke the usual professional response of confidence in a colleague but rather the thought 'God she looks hot! Right now.' This didn't mean he wasn't also confident in her abilities; he had a lot of respect for Sofia as a policewoman and former CSI. She was a strong, independent woman; actually she was the anti-thesis of every woman he had ever pursued before. That was the problem, he didn't want to go about this the way he normally would, he had gone in overconfident thinking it would be an easy modification to his usual strategy, but he was so far out of his comfort zone, Sofia deserved so much more than that.

Suddenly he knew what he had to do, he walked to the taps splashed water over his face and dried off with a paper towel. Looking into the mirror he took a deep breath and readied himself to come clean, to tell the whole truth.

He walked confidently from the restroom and stopped beside the table, he noticed that in the time he was gone Sofia had reduced two cookies to crumbs – minus the choc chips, a serviette to shreds and her coffee sat untouched. He slid into the couch beside her, nudging her thigh with his knee he sat facing her.

"Okay for the record I'm now up to 12 and what I'm counting is each different smile you have smiled in the last hour."

Sofia was stunned speechless and smile less, her mouth opened and closed a few times before she regained control and was able to form words.

"Who are you?" she breathed, "The Nick Stokes I know is a confident flirt, a self professed ladies man – not this, this soppy 'smile counting' sap. You have barely put an intelligent sentence together since you walked into the break room. Are you telling me that it's my fault, me and my smile have charmed you that much?"

It was Sofia's turn to be completely off-guard. She was almost jumping out of her skin, most men did not notice her smiles – they barely got past the fact she was a cop, who had an indentation on her hip from her gun. She had liked Nick Stokes from their first meeting; she could not believe that he had taken off his 'I work with her and she's a cop' tinted glasses. Wow!

He reached out for her hand, catching her pinkie finger between his index finger and thumb, he caressed her palm with his thumb, both became mesmerized by the motion for a few beats before Nick took a deep breath and started to talk.

"I will admit it took me awhile to get past the fact you were a colleague. I have always admired and respected you and how you do your job, I admire how you worked through some tough transitions with little to no support from your colleagues. Everything you put your mind to you do well and with the utmost professionalism. You are strong, independent and determined. Recently I became …aahh, let's say curious to see if you are as tough after-hours, if for example I was to call you sweetie would you knock me down and cuff me or snuggle in closer."

"You snuggle?" Sofia asked incredulous.

Nick laughed and retaliated with "Hey we have already established I'm not myself right now, forget you heard that." He looked up into Sofia's eyes, "seriously, I like you, and I want to know off duty Sofia Curtis, everything there is to know I want to discover. I have never bumbled through a first date so badly, which tells me how much I want this to work out."

Sofia smiled reassuringly "Well you couldn't have done to badly you got the girl in the end" and with that she brushed a soft kiss across his lips and pulled back slowly to look into his eyes.

"14" Nick whispered as he leant forward and barely touched his lips to hers.

"1" Sofia countered with, before sealing any hint of space between their lips.

………………………………………………………

Wow I actually finished a story. Silly, light fluff – hope you enjoyed. I'm going to go and try my hand at angst now, my favourite.