Niko made a mad rush to Kate's, gritting his teeth and cursing in Serbian the entire way. He nearly passed the house and came to a screeching halt in front of the apartment he sought. He took a deep breath and slowly made it to the door, pulling together a straight face. He knocked, and the matriarch of the McCreary clan answered.
"Why Niko! It's so nice to see you boy-o. I hear you're taking Katelyn out this evening, is this true?"
Niko smiled, and returned a hug. "Yes , it's true. Where is she?"
"Upstairs." She pointed over her shoulder with her thumb. "I'm so happy you've managed to pull her out of her self-absorbed world. Maybe I'll get the grandchildren I deserve now." She muttered as she walked into the living room.
"You wish mother." Kate said as she came down the stair case. "It's only a date Ma, I'm not marrying anyone."
At the sight of the youngest McCreary, Niko's jaw dropped. She was wearing a light blue evening dress that barely reached her knees, her hair falling over her shoulders instead of pulled back tight in its usual bun. He also noted the subtle traces of eyeliner and a light blue eye shadow that matched her dress.
"Kate…" he said, leaning in the kiss her cheek as she reached the bottom of the stairs. "You look beautiful."
Blushing, Kate smiled. "Thank you Niko." She said. "Goodnight Ma, call if you need anything." She called into the other room as Niko held the door for her.
While he wasn't accustomed to entertaining female company that were deserving, Niko acted the part of gentleman and not only opened the car door for Kate, but had adjusted the seat and made sure the radio station was set to Vibe, her favorite, before arriving.
As he pulled away from the curb, Kate glanced in his direction with a grin on her lips. "I have to say, I'm very impressed."
"Oh? By what?" Niko asked innocently.
"You know what." She said, slapping his arm playfully with the back of her hand. "This is very sweet of you. It's a very welcome change."
"Well you are most welcome." He took her hand and gently kissed the back of it, looking over to gauge her reaction. For once, just accepted his advance and didn't make a move to pull away.
"Before I forget…" he said reaching into the backseat, "these are for you." He said, handing her a bouquet of white roses.
"Niko…you really shouldn't have." She said smiling.
"You deserve the best and I aim to please."
As he drove and silence sunk in momentarily his mind returned to the e-mail Natasha had sent him. He was unaware of the look of frustration that had etched itself on his face as Kate cleared her throat.
"What's wrong?" She asked softly.
Niko shook his head and continued to focus on the road. "If you'd really like to know, I will tell you after dinner." He said, pulling into the parking lot of Drusilla's.
Niko had arranged a dinner consisting of candlelight and expensive exported wine, as well as filet mignon and tiramisu. Afterward, he kept his word and took Kate for a walk through Middle Park to tell her about his sister. As they passed the pond he slowed and leaned over the rail, staring into the dark water as dusk set in.
"Kate, I have told you a lot about my life. There are things you have learned on your own and I want to remind you that those things are in my past. After Roman's death I knew I had to change my way of life, that everyone else I care about…and love…" He stole a quick glance to see her reaction, enough to see her raise an eyebrow, before continuing. "would be hurt or killed if I didn't stop my chase of money and revenge. I did get my revenge, and I do have enough money to keep myself steady for a while." He stopped and ran a hand over his face.
Kate placed a hand on his shoulder, silently encouraging him to go on.
"You are the only person in this goddamn city to know my secrets. I have confide everything in you, all but one thing."
There was a slight fear in her eyes as turned to face her.
"I…"He took a deep breath. "I have a sister, a younger sister, and she has made the stupid decision to join me here."
Kate released air she had been holding in her lungs for what seemed like forever.
"Thank God Niko, I thought you were going to say you had went back to your old ways." She said in relief. "So you have a sister, why is that such a big secret?"
"Because I never wanted to involve her. According to Natasha, Mother is helping her pay for a ticket here. I don't have much time to prepare, she says she will be here tomorrow morning."
"Oh Niko." Kate wrapped her arms around him, pulling him into a hug. "I'll help you however I can. Have you a place for her to stay?"
"I have a couch. The places I have obtained are all studio apartments."
"Well, is she staying for good or just visiting?"
"I don't know." He admitted. "But knowing her it is permanent."
He broke away from Kate's embrace and sunk onto a park bench.
"I'm sure there are better places to live in case she decides to stay. You could get a house, something nice, with a yard. Somewhere that will make you happy."
Niko smiled at her. "I do not wish to have a house if all it's for is myself and my grown sister."
"Who says you'll always be alone?" She took a seat next to him. "Niko, I've only let you this close to me because I see something in you. I've never been on an official date with anyone, that's saying a lot about to night. I'm not saying I've been trying to save you, but I have been attempting to guide you along the right path. We've both lived fucked up lives, now is our turn to save our future."
Niko looked at her, perplexed by her confession.
"I've wanted to tell you for a long time Niko, but I was serious when I said I didn't date anyone from my brother's gangster group of friends. You are not a gangster. I know what you want to do with your life and crime isn't it."
"Are you…are you saying you want to try a normal life…with me?"
Unexpectantly, Kate leaned in and kissed him. She broke off after a few moments and blushed.
"So…I take it tonight was a success?" Niko said with a laugh.
"Very much so."
"What does that make us?" He asked carefully.
"Well…I suppose we're together." She said. "As long as you keep that promise and stay honest."
"Whatever it takes." He said, kissing her gently. "Now, let's go home. I must get ready for tomorrow."
Niko took Kate's hand and led her to his car. For the first time in many years he felt optimistic, truly happy that his life may be on track to as normal as it would ever be.