"I'll make you a deal. No more secrets, okay?" Kate leaned forward, towards the man that caused her so much much pain, but so much happiness. "If your symptoms come back, you tell me," she said firmly but kindly. She smiled slightly, her soft eyes grazing Daniel's face.
Daniel nodded at her, promising.
"Good," Kate said. Taking a deep breath, she added, "But, I'm not expecting this honesty to be one-sided... This probably isn't the best time, or, or the best place to dump this on you, but I... I know that if I don't do this now, I never will. And I need to." She peered at him with an unreadable expression.
Suddenly, looking at Kate from across the table, Daniel was gone. Gone to another time, another place, a place where there was nothing between them- not a desk, not the distance he always pushed for, not the air they breathed. Nothing but a few layers of clothing, and... and the fact that not a bit of it was real. He snapped himself back to reality. It would do him no good to dwell on the hallucinations of the past.
Kate could tell she had lost the good doctor for a moment. "Daniel...?" she probed.
He gave his head a quick shake and smiled back at her. "I'm sorry. I had a moment. Go on," he said.
"Really, I promise. I would tell you. No more secrets, remember?" Daniel laughed pleasantly, exuberant to say that he wasn't even lying; he really was fine, he wasn't slipping away.
Still eyeing him dubiously, Kate sighed. "Right... Well, Daniel, I care about you. And I know I've said it before," she said, waving away the memory, "but I don't think you know quite how... much, I care for you."
Daniel had some idea.
"You mean more to me than anyone in the world. I have never felt this way about another human being- even Donny, and I married the man. I know you like I know the back of my hand. And... I love you," Kate finished, cheeks flaming and breath heavy.
Silently, Daniel stood and walked around his desk. Kate stared up at him in a panic, afraid he was going to simply walk out the door and never look back. Instead, he reached for her hand and pulled her to her feet.
"Kate," he murmured, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. Kate closed her eyes, waiting for the blow. "I want you to know that I am entirely in my right mind at this moment."
Kate's eyes were still shut in distress, so she couldn't see the look on Daniel's face as he gazed at her. She couldn't see the small smile playing on his lips, couldn't tell that he had been waiting for this moment for a long time.
She was blind, senseless... until she wasn't. Until Dr. Daniel J. Pierce, the most brilliant, damaged man she had ever known, was cupping her face in his hands, until her favorite professor, her closest friend, was tracing the outline of her lips with the tip of his tongue. Until she realized that there were truly, absolutely, no more secrets.