Disclaimer: Characters do not belong to me
Summary: they have a secret ritual. TATE
Spoilers: Theoretically set in pre-series 3 universe; that is to say that Kate is alive and well.
Notes: My second NCIS fic. I hope you enjoy. Feedback is always greatly appreciated.
They have a secret ritual, Kate and Tony. It's never spoken about out loud and it's nothing that they specifically arranged. It's just a ritual that they have fallen into and neither has any intention of giving up.
The first time it happens is after a particularly difficult case that drags on for nearly a week non-stop. A petty officer and his young son are found dead, having been tortured and hanged. It's an image that Kate can't quite rid herself of and an act that she cannot even begin to comprehend.
The killer is eventually apprehended, but his explanation leaves the team cold and wanting.
The frustrating thing about this job, Kate muses, is that often there are no satisfactory answers. She knows that she will not sleep easily tonight, despite her exhaustion, and she craves company.
So when Tony informs her that he is going to get food from the local Chinese place, she invites herself along.
She is quiet throughout most of the meal, but then, unusually, so is he.
It's nine o'clock before they finish, and yet they still both sit there, unwilling to return home. She senses that he, too, does not wish to be alone at this moment.
"I'm gonna go get a movie," she tells him. It's an unspoken invitation to prolong the evening.
"I've got a 50inch plasma screen TV, Bang and Olufsen, brand new," Tony informs her proudly, leaning back in his chair.
She takes this for what it is; acceptance of her invitation.
At Blockbuster she chooses a classic chick flick, Pretty Woman. She knows that Tony will roll his eyes at her choice, but she doesn't care; she has no intention of seeing one of his all boys together, fighting, killing, chasing films.
It is the first time she has seen his apartment, and when she enters she is surprised that it exceeds that of her imagination.
She is invited to sit on his couch – black, leather – and he offers her a glass of wine – Chardonnay – which she accepts.
He neither comments nor rolls his eyes at her choice of film; in fact, the title seems to barely register to him as he puts the DVD in the player. And then he joins her on the couch, sits back, arms outstretched on the back of the couch, and she is surprised that she doesn't find the invasion of her space as irritating as she usually would.
She feels herself begin to relax as the movie draws on and the somnolent affect of the wine starts to make itself known.
Slowly, her eyes close, her head drops to an angle which she knows will cause her pain in the morning, but she is unable to move.
And then, she is asleep.
Surprisingly, she has no nightmares.
The second time, a couple of months later, is also precipitated by a horrific case, one in which a brilliant young marine was pushed in front of a train and a member of their team is targeted because of their subsequent inquiries.
"Chinese?" Tony asks as the case, and the paperwork, draws to a close.
"I'm gonna go get a movie," she says as they sit there after the meal, hunger satisfied for now.
"I've got a 50inch plasma screen TV, Bang and Olufsen," he replies.
Her choice of movie this time is Hitch.
His choice of wine is pinot grigio.
Neither comments on the others' choice.
She falls asleep within thirty minutes; her head resting gently on his arm.
Again, she suffers no nightmares.
The third time, barely a month later, is again as a result of a trying case. This time he doesn't even bother to note that he is going for food.
"You coming?" he asks.
"I'm gonna get a movie," she comments after she's finished eating.
"I've got a 50inch plasma screen TV, Bang and Olufsen," he replies.
"You may have mentioned that before," she notes with a wry smile.
"I like to impress," he grins.
She chooses When Harry Met Sally.
He offers her chianti.
She sits almost imperceptibly nearer to him and he only has to shift slightly for her head to fall on his shoulder.
There's no real reason for the fourth time. It's a Friday night and it's not been a particularly bad week. But he's obviously not got a date tonight and she's tired of sitting in alone.
"I'm going for Chinese," he tells her.
"I'm gonna go get a movie," she starts.
"Well, you'll be needing a good TV to watch that on," he replies.
"50inch, Bang and Olufsen?" she enquires with an amused smile.
He points a finger at her, "you got it, babe," he responds.
"Babe?" she threatens, but there's a teasing note in her voice.
"I've just talked my way into watching another chick flick, haven't I?" he sighs.
"Maybe even a chick flick marathon. Ever seen the BBC miniseries of Pride and Prejudice? It's nearly six hours long," she smiles sweetly.
He makes no response except for a long, loud groan as he hits his head on the table.
She shows no mercy and follows through on her threat; it'll be good for him, she muses.
After two hours of surprisingly few objections, she looks at him and notes, with amusement, that it almost seems as if he's interested in the film. That, or the fact that he has realised that it would be futile to try and get out of it.
She shifts her position in order to get more comfortable and subconsciously moves slightly nearer towards him.
It's nearly an hour later before she realises that his hand has been on her shoulder the entire time, slowly drawing patterns at random.
She doesn't fall asleep.
Several weeks later, she realises that Friday nights have become a ritual of theirs. Neither of them discuss it; nor make plans in advance. But she finds herself increasingly looking forward to it and she doesn't know why.
One Friday he has a date and she is irritated by the fact that this bothers her.
She invites Abby for Chinese and afterwards they go back to Kate's to watch a movie. But somehow it's not the same.
The following week, they revert to their usual ritual. But she doesn't respond to his teasing and she sits further away from him than her normal distance and she knows that he's trying to figure out why.
Hell, even she's trying to figure out why.
But their dynamic, even at work, is out of kilter and she doesn't know what to do about it.
And then, on Tuesday, she's involved in a case that particularly affects her, even nearly kills her and she almost dreads the thought of returning home to think over it again and again.
"Chinese?" he asks.
And she nods.
At the end of their meal they sit in silence and she senses that he is waiting for her cue line. "I should have done things differently today," she says instead.
He is quiet for a while. "You couldn't have known Jenna was gonna react that way. Everything pointed to the fact that she wasn't the guy we were looking for."
She sighs. "Gibbs knew. I should've…"
"Should've what? Been clairvoyant? We were looking for a guy, not a really hot chick with a great rack."
This gets her to roll her eyes. "Tony, do you ever think of women in terms of more than their appearance?"
"How hot are these women?" he asks. "'Cause, the really hot ones, most times it's probably best not to look beneath the surface."
They argue their way to blockbuster before arguing over the relative merits of various movies in terms of the attractiveness of the actors in them.
And by the time that she's nearly fallen asleep, her head on his shoulder in its usual position, she's almost forgotten about her day.
And when he pulls her in closer and kisses her on the head, all other thoughts fade away until she eventually falls into a peaceful sleep.
Three Fridays pass and their ritual is interrupted by work. She is surprised at how much she misses it; misses their time spent together. And by now she's started to figure out why. And the only question is: should she do anything about it?
She is more than acutely aware of his presence next to her as they sit together the following Friday. Her arm, defiant of its owner, finds itself against him and she feels his every movement. She feels the heat of his leg next to hers, the light touch of his fingers on her shoulder. Her body is attracted like a magnet to his; somehow they draw closer to each other without even consciously making any movement.
She is aware of his every breath and it makes it difficult to concentrate on the movie.
She stays awake throughout, almost rigid in place, until the end when she starts to make a move to leave.
She stands up, makes some mumbling comments about how she has to leave.
"Stay," he says.
"I've got to go," she replies, but her voice betrays her in its lack of conviction. She turns to face the door but oddly makes no move towards it.
He stands behind her and places his hand on her waist, gently turning her back around.
"Stay," he says again, this time in a lower, more intimate voice.
He moves closer towards her and she stays in place, her eyes dropping to his lips even as she tries to hold her resolve. Her eyes move back up to meet his and she can read the question in them.
"Stay," he says one last time, before she almost imperceptibly nods. He moves in closer, until his face is mere millimetres from hers, and she must have moved towards him because she's no longer wondering what it would be like to kiss Tony DiNozzo.
It is a brief kiss, but one of promise of things yet to come.
And then she kisses him again.
They have a secret ritual, Kate and Tony. It's never spoken about out loud and it's nothing that they specifically arranged. But as this ritual develops into something more, she knows that she will never willingly give it up.