Title: Dating Kate

Disclaimer: I do not own NCIS or any of its characters.

Summary: This story takes place after SWAK and it is also set post Twilight, but, of course, Kate is still alive. This story shows what should have happened between Tony and Kate at the end of season 2. Tony can't hide his feelings for Kate anymore and asks her out for a date. Do I even have to say that she says yes? I planned this as a oneshot, but my kind reviewers asked for another chapter, so well ...

It was a Thursday in the early evening when Tony came home from the first run he had taken ever since he got home from the hospital. He was not very pleased. Being infected with the pneumonic plague did not help to improve your shape. Before, he had been able to run 10 miles without any difficulty, today he had had to give up after barely more than one mile and now he felt as if an elephant was sitting on his chest.

He wanted to take a shower, but found that he really needed to sit down first, so he slopped down on the couch and stared at the opposite wall. The doctor's said that in a few weeks' time he would be back to normal, but Tony had never been very patient when it came to illnesses or injuries of any kind.

At least he was back at work. He really wouldn't know what to do if he'd have to stay at home the whole time. And he most definitely wouldn't have wanted his team to go through this whole Ari-incident without him. But now the bastard was dead and they had no new case right now, and everybody – Kate in particular – was telling him that paperwork was just the right thing to do in his state. She was worried, he could tell, and he had to admit that he liked the idea. She was now calling more often than she used to, checking on him and advising him to go to bed early and do exactly as the doctors had told him.

It could be unnerving, but he didn't really mind. Not if it meant that he got to see her outside of work more often and that she was being nice and kind to him. He enjoyed this new side of her a lot, but he also started to feel that it was getting him into trouble, big trouble.

The first time he noticed that something was wrong had been even before she stayed with him at the hospital. It had been a day like all the others, nothing special about it, except for the fact that it had been the day when Tony had noticed that something was wrong with his heart rate. He had been inside the elevator together with Kate and some other people and she had stepped closer to him in order to make room for the others. He had felt her arm resting against his side and then he had noticed that his breath came faster than usual and that his heart beat had quickened. At first he had thought that maybe he was getting ill, had caught the flu or something like that, but then Kate had looked up at him and had made a sarcastic remark about some detail of their current case and he had smiled at her and suddenly it had hit him that it was Kate who was making him feel so strangely. It had been quite a shock for him. At first he had tried to ignore it, but situations like that elevator-incident started to become more and more frequent and in the end he found that he had actually started to provoke such situations where he would "accidentally" touch her hand with his or "accidentally" bump into her when walking past her. He had tried to figure out what his exact feelings were, but then he had been infected with the plague and from then on things had happened so quickly that he had had hardly any time to think it all through.

But now the world had come back to normal – at least work had. They were working normal cases again which did not involve international terrorists or sniper attacks and Tony had found himself seriously thinking about his relationship to Kate. They were closer now than they had been before. They were still bantering and teasing each other – well, a lot, actually, but they never got mean or shouted at each other and they always ended up laughing together. Tony was still looking for small occasions to touch her, stand close to her or just to make her smile. He opened doors for her without even planning on it – it just happened. He helped her into her jacket before they left the office. At home he was waiting for her to call and check on him even though she never said she was going to. And when he didn't want to wait anymore he would call her with some lame excuse like a question about a case or even as ordinary things as wanting to tell her about something funny he had seen on TV.

When the elevator-incident took place, Tony had tried to ignore what he was feeling. But he was not a complete idiot and by now even he had figured out that he was on the best way to fall head over heels for that woman – if he hadn't already fallen – and it was an entirely new situation for him. It was driving him crazy. It was driving him crazy because he didn't know what to do about it. He didn't even know if it was only him or if Kate was feeling something too. And how was he supposed to find out without risking to make an idiot of himself?

At that moment his cell phone started to ring and Tony picked it up from the coffee table to look at the caller ID. When he read the name on the display he started to grin happily and pressed send.

"Hi, Kate", he said cheerfully. "What's up?"

"Uh, nothing really, just my regular evening call to make sure you're not killing yourself."

"Oh, and I thought you called because you missed me so much", Tony said, feigning disappointment without really having to feign it.

"Are you feeling alright?" she asked, ignoring his last remark.

"Yeah, sure. But I don't understand why curing out a disease always has to take so much time."

He had hardly finished his sentence when Kate snapped at him: "What did you do?"

"What?" he asked in utter surprise.

"You've done something you shouldn't have done and I want to know what it was!"

How the hell was she doing that? Was he still sounding out of breath? Or had it been his remark about diseases taking a long time to cure?

"I … uh …" he stuttered. "I only went for a run – a very short one. Only around the block. I …"

"Have you gone insane?" Kate interrupted him briskly. And then she started a tirade about how dangerous it was not to let one's body cure properly and putting too much strain on it too early. It took Tony a full five minutes to calm her down and assure her that he was fine.

"You really shouldn't do these things", she said, and the sharpness had finally left her voice. "I don't like having to worry about you."

Tony smiled broadly and a warm and pleasant feeling spread inside his chest. "I'm sorry", he apologized sincerely.

"Okay", she sighed and within ten seconds they were involved in a pleasant conversation about the warm weather that was currently reigning in the city. And like every other night, Tony went to bed with thoughts of Kate filling his head. But tonight, something was different. Tonight he had finally made a decision.


The next morning Tony was sitting at his desk in the office and stared at the computer screen in front of him without taking in any of the words written on it. He was too deep in thought. Today was going to be his day. He was past telling himself that what he was feeling was only temporary. He was past pretending that everything was alright with him. He was past trying to ignore the butterflies – because they had stopped being butterflies weeks ago. Now they were like huge bumblebees and the feeling they gave him was no longer one of pleasure, but one of torture – pleasure torture, still.

He let out a deep sigh. The third in as many minutes, but he didn't notice. Kate did, though. She had been secretly watching Tony all morning and had no idea what was wrong with him. He was definitely not working, she could tell, after more than two years of being on the same team with him. But he didn't look bored either, as he usually was when they didn't have a case and were working on old paperwork. He just sat there and stared at the screen, also at his hands sometimes, but had neither started taunting McGee nor her. Something was definitely wrong with him.

Tony stole a secret glance over at Kate, at the table across from him. But she noticed and their eyes met for an instant. The bumblebees' humming increased and Tony was pretty sure that he blushed slightly. Oh, come on, that's ridiculous! You're a grown man! Men don't blush!

"Is there something wrong, Tony?" Kate asked.

Damn it! Tony looked over at her and grinned. "Nothing's wrong. Why?"

Kate shrugged. "Never mind."

She went back to work and Tony quickly pretended being very busy with whatever he was supposed to be doing and tried to ignore Kate. But that was easier said than done. Every time they were in the same room he felt her presence as strongly as he would have felt a burning fire. All he could do was pretend that the mere thought of her was not messing with his brain and that he was not at all influenced by the gaze from her brown eyes that always seemed to melt his insides, that sparkled when she was laughing and – oh, stop it!

Tony groaned inwardly. Today had to be the day. He had to do it. He was not sure how he was going to survive otherwise. If she turned him down then at least he had tried and maybe afterwards he could go on with his life and forget about her. But what if he wasn't able to forget her? After all he saw her every day. How were you supposed to forget someone you met every day? If she turned him down, things were going to become extremely awkward between them. She would try to be nice to him and treat him the same as usual, but they'd both know. And, apart from that, Tony was also very sure that he would have a very hard time accepting that Kate didn't think of the two of them as anything else than partners. Would he be able to accept that nothing was ever going to happen between them?

But he had made his decision. Hiding his feelings was no longer an option. For as long as there was any hope that Kate, too, might feel something for him that was more than friendship he had to try it.

He wasn't going to declare his undying love for her or anything like that. He didn't want to scare her or – worse – cause her to burst out laughing. All he wanted to do was ask her out for dinner. And he would make clear to her right from the beginning that he didn't mean a dinner between colleagues, or friends even, but a real date. He would tell her that and then it was up to her.

But how to ask her? He had been thinking about it all morning – and also most of the previous night. There was the possibility of just going over to her to ask, but if he made it look too casual she might think that he wasn't serious. He could also ask her if he could talk to her in private for a minute and go into the break room with her. But what if somebody was in there? It would be awkward waiting in there until they were alone. Observation room? No, that was too private. It would look like he was trying to hide something. Besides, all these places were the least romantic one could imagine. He would have liked some place special to ask her. What about the roof?

Hm …, Tony thought. That was not bad. The weather was good, it was warm … But how was he going to get her up there?

Just ask her, you idiot!

Tony looked at his watch. It was time for a coffee break anyway.

Very slowly he got up and took three hesitant steps over to Kate's desk. She had noticed him and looked up from her paperwork, raising both eyebrows to shoot him a questioning look. She looked lovely doing that.

"Yes, Tony?" she asked after some seconds of watching him standing there.

"Uh … I'm going to get a coffee from the break room", Tony hurried to say. "Do you want something too?" He swallowed nervously, aware of the fact that his nervousness must be very obvious to her.

Kate tilted her head to one side looking surprised. "Yeah, a coffee would be great", she said hesitantly and smiled. "Thank you."

Tony smiled, nodded and hurried away. Two minutes later he was back with two cups of coffee and put one on Kate's desk. She smiled up at him, almost making him drop his cup when his insides turned into knots.

"Thank you", she said sweetly.

"You're welcome … But … uh … wouldn't you like to take a break? I was going to go up to the rooftop and drink my coffee there, you know, because … the weather is so good today." Now, that was lame! She must think he was a complete moron.

"I think I could use a little break", Kate answered, obviously puzzled by his suggestion. She stood up and walked around the table. "Let's go then."

It was a good thing Gibbs wasn't at his desk right then so they didn't have to explain why they couldn't drink their coffee while working. They reached the stairs and decided to walk instead of taking the elevator. Some minutes later they were standing on the rooftop, looking out over the city. Kate was, at least. Tony was secretly looking at her out of the corner of his eyes. She looked beautiful in the bright sunlight. Her hair reflected the light, shining in a deep chestnut color, and her eyes had turned a light hazel.

"Kate?" Tony finally managed to say.

She turned to face him, waiting for him to speak.

Tony had had some words ready in his head, but they had left him. What was he going to do?

"A beautiful day, isn't it?" he forced past his lips.

"Yes, it is", Kate said, giving him a strange look. "You have any plans for the weekend?" she asked when he didn't continue.

Tony shrugged. "I don't know yet", he muttered. Idiot! Just ask her!

They sipped their coffees in silence for some more minutes, Kate obviously enjoying the warm weather while Tony was almost dying from nervousness.

When she had emptied her cup she looked into Tony's and found that it was also empty, so she nodded towards the door. "Shall we head back down?" she asked. "Gibbs is going to wonder where we are."

Tony desperately tried to say something, but he couldn't. His vocal cords weren't working. So all he could do was nod and follow Kate across the rooftop. At least he remembered what being a gentleman meant and reached for the door to open it for her. Kate smiled at him, her disarming, lovely, oh so sweet smile, and suddenly something inside of Tony clicked into place. What was he doing here?

"Kate, wait", he said, before she stepped over the threshold. He gently placed one hand under her elbow and guided her away from the door.

"What is it?" she asked confusedly. "Is everything alright?"

"I brought you up here for a reason", Tony said, so glad that the power of speech had returned to him. "I need to ask you something and I wanted to have you alone to do it."

"Oh", was all that Kate had to say to that. She looked at Tony expectantly.

He sighed deeply. "Hear me out, okay?" he said. "'cause this is not so easy and I … I don't really know what to say, but I'm going to say it anyway, because I have to say it." He shut his mouth and took a deep breath. He was rambling and he wasn't supposed to ramble. This was important. But why did she have to look at him like this? Her expression was expectant and friendly, not the oh so often seen annoyed look she used to give him. He had no problems dealing with her annoyance – he had a lot of practice in it. But how do you deal with her when she's being so sweet? All he wanted to do then was to take her face in his hands and kiss her senseless, but that, he feared, would be a little inappropriate. So he settled for just asking her.

"Listen … uh … what I wanted to ask you … Kate … and I hope this isn't on too short notice … but I'd like to know … uh … if you'd consider going to dinner with me? Today?"

Kate looked at him, obviously amused and still a little confused, then nodded. "Sure, why not? We haven't had dinner together in quite some time."

"No … uh … I mean, this …" Tony sighed. "No", he then said clearly. "I'm not talking about the dinners we usually have together. What I'm asking … What I want is … I want a date. With you."

He could actually see how she took in this new information. Her facial expression changed from the friendly, smiling one to one of surprise, then mild shock, then hesitation. "A date?" she silently echoed his words. "Why?"

That was not really a question Tony had expected. Why do you usually go on dates?

"Do I really have to answer this?" he asked carefully.

"No", she said quickly, shaking her head. "But I … I … Tony, I don't know."

"What do you not know?" he asked gently. He wasn't going to force her into anything. If she didn't want to then he had to accept. But he needed a clear answer.

"I don't know if going on a date would be such a good idea", Kate said carefully. "I mean, the job … and what are the others going to say? We have rules to …"

"Kate", Tony interrupted her, taking a step closer and locking his gaze with hers. "Kate, if you're going to say no then only do it because you don't want to go out with me. Don't do it because of our job or because of what the others might say. This is none of their business." He smiled at her, desperately trying to hide his insecurity. "Tell me if you really don't understand why I'm asking you out", he demanded then. "Because I need to know if what I'm doing here is completely insane. I've wanted to ask you out for weeks, months, maybe, but I didn't have the guts. But now I have to know, because seeing you every day and always having to hide, it drives me crazy."

Kate suddenly had tears in her eyes. Tony was shocked to see it and wanted to ask if he had said anything wrong, but Kate spoke first: "My answer is yes, Tony", she said. When she smiled at him she did it almost timidly. "I'd really like to go out with you."

"Really?" Tony exclaimed, and he must have sounded absolutely incredulous, because Kate covered her mouth with one hand to hide a smile. He could see the smile in her eyes, though, and quickly took on a stern expression.

"You laughing at me, Agent Todd?" he asked.

"I wouldn't dare", she assured quickly, trying to stop smiling, but she couldn't.

Tony took one more step closer to her and was now standing right in front of her, so close that their bodies were almost touching. The smile was now wiped from Kate's face as she stood there like frozen, watching his lips as he bent forward slightly. It would have been easy to kiss her, then, but Tony didn't do it. Not yet, he told himself. Instead he moved closer to her ear and whispered: "I'm going to pick you up at your place at seven. Dress up." And lightly running his fingers over the back of her hand he drew back and now held the door to the staircase open for her.

It took her a full five seconds to finally move and walk past him. When her back was turned on him, Tony didn't hide his smile anymore. He had definitely made some impression on her. Now he had to concentrate on making this evening one that she would remember for a long, long time.


Kate had been so nervous all day that she feared she wouldn't be able to eat anything at all in the evening. When they had returned from the roof she had hardly been able to sit still behind her desk. All the time she was wondering what had driven Tony to finally ask the question she had been dying to hear from him for months. That was the reason why she had answered his question with another question, not wanting to know why he asked her out, but why he asked her out now. But then he had explained it anyway, saying that he hadn't been able to wait any longer. God, she had wanted to kiss him right then, skip the date and go on to whatever was coming next. After all she had waited long enough!

She had been daydreaming about kissing him for months, at first admonishing herself for it each time, then finally accepting that she just couldn't help it. It had taken her a long time to admit to herself that she had feelings for Tony, intense feelings, and then she had tried to hide it as good as possible. How could she be falling for Tony DiNozzo? She had always liked friendly, responsible men who were acting their age and none of these traits were really describing Tony. Well, friendly, maybe, as long as he wasn't teasing her. Kate had feared that when she would let her feelings show, she would get hurt. Because Tony didn't commit and she'd really need him to be serious with her because she wouldn't be able to stand being dumped by him. That's why when he was in hospital with the plague she lied, telling him that she was infected too, so she could stay with him. If she hadn't lied she would have had to admit that she just couldn't leave him because it would break her heart knowing that he was facing his fate alone.

Each and every single day that had passed since then she had thanked God that he hadn't taken Tony away from her. She knew she had gotten a second chance to tell him what she was feeling, but she had been afraid to open up to him and lay her heart out in front of him. That's why she admired Tony's courage in the first place. He must have been afraid, too, but he had had the courage to walk up to her and ask her out for dinner. What he had said had made her head spin. He had said he couldn't hide his feelings for her anymore. His feelings for her!

Wasn't it natural that Kate had been a nervous wreck ever since she got home? Tonight could be the night!

She was lucky that she had been able to leave the office at five, so she had enough time to get ready for her date. But were one and a half hour really enough? At least she had already decided which dress and shoes she wanted to wear. She had also decided to let her hair down, because she knew Tony liked it like that. When she was standing in front of the mirror combing her hair, she experienced a whole new wave of excitement when she imagined Tony's hands fisting in her hair, pressing his lips onto hers. She almost dropped the brush.


At seven o'clock precisely Tony knocked on Kate's door. He didn't have to wait long before the door opened and revealed the most stunning sight he had ever met. Kate was wearing a green, knee-length neck-holder dress and black high-heels. Her dark hair was playing loosely around her shoulders. She looked amazing! But the moment that was Tony's undoing was when she just smiled at him and her eyes shone brightly. God, how was he supposed to get through dinner and eloquent conversation without ravishing her in the middle of the restaurant?

"Kate, you look gorgeous", he said, trying very hard to keep his voice steady. Then he presented the flower to her that he had been hiding behind his back. One single white lily. He had been thinking very long about which flower to choose. Of course, a rose would have been appropriate, but it was such a cliché. A lily was elegant and beautiful, just like Kate.

When he saw the look in her eyes he knew that he had made the right choice.

"Thank you", she whispered, taking the flower from him. "Please come in. I'll be ready in one minute."

Tony sat down on the couch in the living room while Kate put her flower into a high glass vase before disappearing into the bedroom to get her jacket. Tony drummed his fingers on his knees while waiting for her. He was wearing a dark blue suit and white shirt, but no tie because he found it made him look too conservative.

"Where are you taking me?" Kate asked.

Tony turned around, surprised to see her standing in the door to her bedroom. He hadn't heard her return. Again he took some seconds just to look at her. He wished he could stay at home with her, have her all to himself. But that was not how this kind of thing worked, so he got up from the couch and held out a hand to her. Kate came to him, smiling, and laid her hand on his arm

"I'm not telling you yet", he said, grinning. "But I promise you you're going to like it."

"I'm sure I will", Kate said, giving him a look that almost made him forget all his good intentions. He couldn't resist the urge to lift his hand and touch one of her dark locks that were falling down onto her shoulder. By doing so, his thumb brushed over the side of her neck and he was electrified by the softness of her skin. He could smell her perfume, flowery and spicy at the same time, a scent that he always connected with Kate. He saw her close her eyes when he touched her and he could have sworn he felt her shiver.

"Come on", he said softly and reached for her hand. Together they left the house and walked to Tony's car, where Tony opened the passenger side door for Kate and waited until she had gotten in before he walked around the car. During the drive they kept their conversation light and playful, talking about their friends at work – but not about work itself – and about past holidays.

When they had finally reached their destination Kate looked out of the window, stared for some seconds, then turned to face Tony. "Brunetti's?" she asked, sounding as if she couldn't believe it. "I've wanted to eat here ever since it opened."

"I know", Tony said, smirking. "You told me once."

"But it's almost impossible to get a table here", Kate went on. "How did you …?"

"Hey, I'm not going to tell you all my secrets on the first date", Tony said, smiling at her. "Let's just say I know someone who knows someone who knows someone who still owed me a favor."

Actually, he was the one who now owed somebody else, big, but he didn't mind. He had wanted to do this for Kate and he liked the idea that he had impressed her.

A valet came and opened the door for Kate, before walking around to the driver's side and taking Tony's key. Tony joined Kate and put one hand in the small of her back to lead her to the door of the restaurant. It was one of the places with small round tables and white table cloths that reached down to the floor and long red candles on the tables and waiters who reacted to the tiniest movement of a finger. It was luxurious and the people eating here usually were either rich or famous or both. The women wore expensive dresses and real diamonds and the men drove Mercedes and wore designer suits. But when Tony entered together with Kate he felt that today he was the man who all the others envied. He thought he saw some heads turn in Kate's direction and his hand that was still placed in the small of her back moved slightly to bring her a little bit closer to him. He felt at the same time proud to be with Kate and jealous because of the looks of other men on her.

But when Kate placed one hand on his shoulder and leaned towards him to whisper into his ear he forgot about all the others and only concentrated on her.

"This place is unbelievable", she said. "I think I'm underdressed."

"Are you kidding?" he asked amusedly. "You are by far the most beautiful woman in this place."

No, that was not possible! Was Kate Todd blushing?

One of the waiters showed them to their table and Tony ordered a bottle of red whine before taking the menu from him. While looking at it he stole glances at Kate whenever he thought that she wouldn't notice. Sometimes she did notice, of course, and their eyes met. Candlelight was reflected in her eyes and the sparkle was so intense that it was enough to make Tony's stomach do a backflip. God, this woman is beautiful! And even more so when she's blushing like that.

When they had ordered their meals they clicked glasses, their gazes locked on each other.

"How long have you been planning this?" Kate wanted to know.

"This evening in particular or asking you out in general?"

"Both, I think."

Tony smiled uncomfortably. "I've meant to ask you for some time now", he admitted. "But I wasn't sure if it was the right thing to do. I wasn't sure if you'd approve."


"Of the fact that I have feelings for you that go beyond those one colleague has for another", Tony said boldly.

Kate almost felt her heart stop at hearing Tony talk so openly about his feelings. Without consciously thinking about it she started to smile. "Maybe this is hard for you to believe, but I have been thinking along the same lines", she admitted. "I wasn't sure whether it was a good idea to act on my feelings."

Tony was delighted to hear her say that. So she had feelings for him too, he had not gotten delusional!

"I want to tell you something", he said, looking her in the eyes.

"I'm listening."

"I want you to know that I've really been thinking this through. I'm not playing around. I'm saying this in case that you weren't sure if I was going to change my mind about us again. I won't. You may not have a very high opinion of me when it comes to romantic relationships, but I swear that you can trust me with this."

"I know I can", she said softly. "Don't worry. I do trust you."

When they had cleared this matter away, the atmosphere between them became relaxed and comfortable. They asked each other questions about their youth, a thing they had never done before. Tony even got Kate to promise him that she would show him her yearbook pictures some day.

"Not some day", Tony disagreed. "If you say 'some day' then every time I ask you about it you'll find an excuse. I want to see them the next time I am at your place."

"And when's this 'next time' going to be?" Kate asked innocently.

Tony felt a wave of heat rush through his body when he realized that 'next time' was going to be tonight when he brought her home. But this time he didn't let his nervousness show openly. Instead he just smiled and leaned forward slightly. "So, when you're going to have to look for those yearbooks, there's not a chance that you'll also find your old school uniform?" he asked.

Kate rolled her eyes. "Tony, you are really obsessed with that uniform. Maybe you should go and talk to a psychiatrist about it."

"You know, there are some fantasies that you simply have to live out once to make them disappear. I'm quite sure you could cure me from this one." He raised his eyebrows suggestively and Kate glared at him, but seconds later they were both laughing.

The waiter arrived with their meals and interrupted their banter for some time. But as soon as they were alone again, Kate couldn't help but ask: "If I have to show you my yearbooks, then what do I get in return?"

Tony grinned. "What would you like?"

"Hm …" Kate acted as if she really had to think about it, before saying: "Baby pictures."

"What? No way! Forget it."

"Oh, then I fear you'll never see my high school pictures – or the uniform."

Tony leaned forward slightly, suddenly very alert. "So you do still have the uniform?"

"Maybe", Kate said innocently, fluttering her eye-lashes.

Tony swallowed, leaning back, fighting for composure. "Alright", he finally said. "I'll think about it."

They didn't bring the subject up again. Instead, their conversation settled on family dinners and they had a great time exchanging the most hilarious stories about Christmas and Thanksgiving. In the end Kate had to admit that Tony's family was definitely crazier than hers. His uncle Dorian, who had been kidnapped by aliens three times already, beat her aunt Clara who was a fortune teller and was speaking to the ghosts of dead people.

Time passed so quickly that Kate was surprised to find that they had actually talked through three courses of dinner without losing the thread once.

"This was delicious", Kate sighed when they had finished dessert. "Did I already thank you for the invitation?"

"You don't have to thank me, Kate", Tony said. "I'm just so glad you agreed to come."

Smiling her brightest smile Kate reached over the table with her left hand and placed it on top of Tony's right one. Her light touch was like a bolt of electricity inside his veins. He already felt his heart rate increase and didn't hesitate to take her hand into his and gently squeeze her fingers. Their gazes locked onto each other, but Tony couldn't keep his eyes from wandering down to her lips.

"Kate", he said, his voice barely more than a whisper. "In the next room there's a small bar that belongs to this restaurant. If you'd like we could go there. It offers a little bit more … privacy."

The way he said this last word left no doubt as to what his intentions were and Kate suddenly had a tingling feeling inside her stomach that soon spread out through her entire body. This evening was already so close to the daydreams she had been having for months that she started to doubt if it was really happening. But when Tony's hand left hers and slowly wandered over her wrist and her forearm, Kate had to admit that none of her daydreams had ever made her feel this way.

Unsure about what she was going to say, Tony nervously licked his lips. Kate still looked him in the eyes and then she nodded, placing her other hand over his, making a shiver run down his spine. Yes!

Tony signaled for the waiter to come and asked him to bring the check. He also asked if there was a free table in the bar. The man left, but returned not even one minute later. When Tony had paid the waiter smiled at them. "Follow me, please", he said and waited, until Tony had gentlemanly helped Kate up from her chair, then led them out of the restaurant and through a large glass door into another room. It was only dimly lit. The large bar took up one wall while the other three walls were lined with small booths. The bar was as elegant as the restaurant, but there were fewer people here.

Kate felt Tony gently squeeze her fingers and tried to hold her excitement in check while he slid into one of the booths and pulled her with him. They now sat so close to each other that their legs were touching and their arms brushed against each other when they were moving. When this happened for the third time, Tony wrapped his fingers around hers and stroked the back of her hand with his thumb, before lacing his fingers with hers. He bent closer to whisper into her ear, but right at this moment the barman appeared and asked what they wanted to drink; one minute later he put the drinks in front of them, smiled at them and went back behind the counter.

Tony was still holding Kate's hand, but had to release her now so that they could click glasses. They both sipped their drinks, sitting there in silence and feeling a little bit uncomfortable because they didn't know how to take the next step. Tony couldn't believe it. First kisses had never been a problem for him – actually he was quite good at provoking such situations in the first place. Why was everything different with Kate? But he had to admit, it was not only different, but also better, a lot better than every other date he had ever had. Because no other woman had ever made him feel so good just by looking at him or touching his hand.

When he looked at her, trying to find the right words, he was distracted by a strand of hair that was touching her cheek. He brushed it away, starting at her forehead, then moving his fingertips over her temple before tucking the strand behind her ear. He took some seconds to thread his fingers through her hair, which felt soft and silky and had caught his gaze more than once throughout dinner.

Slowly he dropped his hand down to her shoulder and brushed his thumb over the side of her neck before running his fingers along her collarbone. His eyes followed the movement of his hand so he didn't notice that Kate's gaze was locked on his face. But he did notice when she bit her bottom lip and let out a shaky breath. He smiled at her, loving the effect he was having on her. His hand moved up to the back of her neck and his thumb caressed her warm and soft skin. He leaned towards her, moving closer very slowly. His eyes were fixed on hers, then they wandered down to her lips, then back up to her eyes. When he was so close that his breath stroked her lips like the touch from a soft feather, her eyes fluttered shut.

Then their lips touched, lightly, not yet exploring, only relishing the contact. Kate's hands moved up to Tony's shoulders and she shifted closer, feeling one of his arms wrap around her waist. His mouth gently sucked on her bottom lip, then he let go and his lips brushed smoothly over hers. Kate made a silent sound somewhere between a gasp and a whimper and her arms went around his neck. Tony took that as a very clear invitation and his tongue came out to lick her lips. Without hesitation Kate opened her mouth to him, at the same time trying to get closer to him.

After what had definitely been the best minute in Tony's life he broke out of the kiss and gently touched his lips to her cheek, then buried his face in her soft hair. When Kate had recovered enough to remember how to breathe, she took a shaky breath and started to run a hand through Tony's hair. Her thoughts went back to the time when she had been daydreaming about kissing him. She had imagined that he was a good kisser, but now she had to admit that she'd had no idea. Tony must be the best kisser in the world!

One of his hands started to move over her back and stroked the naked skin between her shoulder blades, sending bolts of electricity through her body.

"Did I already tell you how much I love this dress?" Tony whispered into her ear, bending down to press a kiss to her shoulder.

When he came up to look at her, a strange feeling of longing started to tug at his heart. It actually hurt quite a lot and Tony, who had never experienced such a thing before, wasn't sure what it meant. Looking for answers he turned to his drink and took a big mouthful. Kate watched amusedly as Tony looked at her from the side, almost shyly. When he reached for his drink again, Kate stopped him by placing both hands on his shoulders and grabbing the lapels of his suit jacket. As soon as he faced her, the expression of surprise onto his face changed to a smirk and he met her halfway in a kiss that was a lot less gentle and more passionate than the first one. He was surprised to find that the kiss helped to ease the pain in his chest, even if it didn't make it go away completely. Tony smiled inwardly. If kissing Kate was what it took to make him feel better he would gladly accept his fate.

One of Tony's hands still rested on Kate's back where he enjoyed the feeling of her soft skin under his fingers. But as they continued kissing he wanted to feel more of her, so he dropped his other hand to her hip and let it run along her thigh. The silky fabric of her dress was warm under his touch as his hand slowly wandered down to Kate's knee where it stopped. He slid his fingers under the hem of the skirt and gently traced small circles over her skin with his fingertips. But he made sure that his hand stayed on her knee. After all, they were in a public place and as much as he wanted to feel more of her, he didn't want to embarrass her in any way.

After some time Kate broke the kiss to catch her breath. Tony let her take her time and instead of kissing her lips started to place kisses along her jaw and on the side of her neck. Kate's breath hitched when he kissed the soft skin behind her right ear and Tony started to smile.

He drew back a little to be able to look at her. "How are you feeling?" he whispered.

"What do you think?" she asked, smiling at him. She was very aware of the fact that Tony's hand was still resting on her thigh and that his thumb was tracing nonsense patterns on the fabric of her dress.

"Why did it take us so long to reach this point?" she asked him.

Tony smirked. "Because you used to think of me as an egotistical, chauvinistic skirt-chaser?" he suggested.

Chuckling, Kate ran one hand over his cheek, then she shook her head. "Maybe in the beginning", she admitted. "But that was a long time ago. Now I see past your façade."

"Façade?" Tony repeated.

Kate placed one hand on Tony's knee and took some time to take a sip of her drink. When she turned to face him again, he was looking at her expectantly. "I saw how nervous you were today on the roof", she said softly. "It really took a lot of courage to step past the boundaries of friendship. But you did it. And I could see that you were scared."

"You might have said no", Tony said. "You might have laughed about my idea."

"I would never …"

"I know", Tony gently interrupted her. "But as you said it, I was scared and there were a lot of scenarios playing in my head." He smirked. "One of those, by the way, was you and me making out on the roof.

Kate playfully slapped his arm, but uncomfortably cleared her throat at the same time. "Actually …"

"What?" Tony asked.

"I was very close to doing something really unprofessional up there", Kate admitted, causing Tony to burst out laughing. He took her chin between his thumb and index finger and lifted her face up to his. "Kate Todd was having her mind in the gutter", he said, shaking his head disapprovingly.

"Oh, and you didn't?"

Tony's grin widened as he leaned forward and brought his lips close to her ear. "When you opened the door for me tonight and I saw you in that dress I wanted to ravish you on the spot."

When he looked at her again he saw that she had blushed furiously, and he liked it, so he continued, his voice a low whisper: "I wanted to push you up against a wall and press my lips on yours." One of his hands started to trail over her thigh again, while the other caressed the side of her neck. "I wanted to make you mine." He breathed the words over her lips and felt her shudder. She tried to kiss him, but Tony turned his face away and instead pressed a kiss to her neck. "I wanted to explore every inch of you, taste you." He kissed her shoulder, just above the collarbone, where he could smell her perfume the strongest.

"Tony, please", she whispered, her voice barely under control.

Her plea made goose bumps rise on his arms and Tony was surprised at how much he loved the thought that she wanted him. He cupped her face with both hands and kissed her, leaving no doubt that he wanted her too.

Kate broke the kiss minutes later and ran her index finger along the side of Tony's face. Something in the way she was looking at him had changed, but he wasn't exactly sure what it was. But then she spoke and his heart skipped a beat: "Tony, I want you to take me home." Her voice was a low, seductive whisper and there was no doubt that she was planning on inviting him in tonight.

"Just let me pay first and we'll be gone within the minute", he said, squeezing her hand, trying not to let his excitement show.

Five minutes later they were standing in front of the restaurant waiting for the valet to bring the car. Their fingers were laced and Tony enjoyed tickling her palm with his thumb. When he saw the car approach he leaned toward Kate and pressed a gentle kiss to her temple. This evening had been better than he could have imagined even in his dreams. He still had problems imagining that from now on he was going to be allowed to kiss her every time he wanted to. He didn't even try to imagine what was going to happen when they reached her place. His body was already shaking in anticipation.

But there was also another feeling, one that was new to him. It was composed of happiness, contentment and the strange idea that in his chest something had filled a void he hadn't even known had been there. He was thrilled with excitement at the thought that Kate was taking him home with her, but at the same time he knew that it wouldn't be a problem if she changed her mind and said goodbye to him on her doorstep. They had all the time in the world now, because they finally were together.