After reporting to Hawk, Duke and Lady Jaye slowly walked through the hallway to her office. They needed to discuss a few more details before retiring for the night.

"So, what's the next step?" he asked her as he shut the door behind them. She was perched on the corner of her desk, holding a file in her hand. "Should we be aggressive and see where the tracker takes us next, or do a wait and see?"

She rubbed her head, feeling the beginnings of a headache. "Not sure. I'd like to keep Gadget and Breaker on the tracker, and Gadget said she could cross reference several of the areas Xamot keeps revisiting. Tomorrow will be soon enough to look at the report," she decided.

"Allie," began Duke, pausing. "I've been wanting to tell you something," he told her, taking the file out of her hand and placing it on her desk.

She looked up at him, not sure if she wanted to hear it. He was so close, she realized, closer than he normally got.

He prayed for the strength to get him through this. If he had been misreading her signals, then he would be making a fool out of himself.

"Allie," he began again, taking her hand. "I know you've been through a lot lately and I just wanted to tell you…..you've done a really good job since you've taken on the leadership role here," he finished lamely, chickening out.

Somehow, she knew that wasn't what he meant to say. She was afraid she did know, and she wasn't sure how she felt about it. They had been playing around something lately, especially since their night out. She forced herself to sit still.

He rubbed the back of his head, nervous. "We've been working pretty closely lately. I mean, we've always been close before, as friends, but I was wondering if you…." he might as well go ahead and put it out there, he thought. The worst she could do was say no…or laugh at him. "If you would want to go out with me sometime," he finished in a rush, feeling like a 16 year old.

She smiled. She couldn't help it. "On a date?" she asked, surprised. She had been expecting him to be a little more aggressive, like suggesting they go back to her room. But then again, she reasoned, this was Duke. He was a nice guy, a gentleman.

"Well, yeah," he said, giving her a nervous smile. "I mean, I know it's kind of old fashioned, and we've known each other for years, but…."

"I'd love to," she interrupted quietly.

He walked her back to her room. The base was quiet at this time of night and they didn't meet anyone in the hallways. She smiled to herself as he kept touching her, whether it was to hold her hand, rub her shoulder, or have his hand on her back.

"Aren't you coming in?" she asked, her voice husky, when they reached her door. She figured with the physical contact, it was leading up to this. She couldn't believe she was actually nervous.

He smiled, giving her a quick kiss on the cheek. "Not tonight. However, I would like to take you out somewhere tomorrow."

He noticed her surprised look and chuckled. "While I would like to come in, I have a different plan for us. I want us to explore this new…..relationship….one step at a time." He knew she was used to more aggressive men, men who would have gone into her room and had her on her back already. He wanted to romance her, to actually date her. It hadn't been a line - he felt she deserved that.

"So," he continued, leaning against the wall next to her door. "I thought you might want to see that movie that just came out. We could do dinner beforehand, if you want."

She nodded, smiling. "Why do I feel like I'm back in high school?" she laughed.

He grinned. "I have to admit," he said, "I'm feeling like that, too. I'm looking forward to it, though."

"Me too," she agreed. "It's been a long time since I've been on a real date." She glanced at her watch. "Well, looks like I'd better get in before curfew," she teased. "I'll see you tomorrow then." She leaned over and gave him a soft, quick kiss on the cheek before turning and going into her room, shutting the door firmly behind her.

He stood there for a moment, grinning like an idiot, before he pulled himself together. Whistling, he turned and walked down the hallway, heading for his own room.

Allie leaned up against the door, pressing her fingers to her lips. What was she getting herself into? she wondered, the first niggling doubts besieging her. Conrad had been a good friend for a long time. Was she interested in him because he was the nice guy, or was it because she felt she needed someone?

She had told the truth. She was excited about his plan to date first. For once, she had met a guy who hadn't wanted to jump into bed with her first, then romance her later - if even then. She frowned. Since when had she doubted herself? It was a little strange to have romantic feelings for a good friend, she knew, feeling like one of the characters in Courtney's movies. She had always been attracted to Conrad, but had never thought to act on it. She had never thought him interested before, not to mention she hadn't wanted to mess with their friendship.

Shrugging, she put her doubts to rest for now. She needed rest for her mind as well as body if she was to be in top form tomorrow. Sighing, she got ready for bed, cursing her past that made her doubt her own emotions way too much.