A/N: Her it is...special bonus FRIDAY chapter. Hope you enjoy.
Jethro arrived at Kate's apartment with a bouquet of flowers and two minutes to spare. He wiped his sweaty palms on his pant leg and rang her doorbell.
Kate was almost as nervous as Jethro was. She had changed clothes four times and put her hair up twice before deciding at the last minute to wear it down. She was dressed in a cream colored, sleeveless dress with a burgundy jacket. When the doorbell rang she wiped her hands on a towel in the kitchen and checked herself in the hall mirror one last time. She opened the door just before Jethro rang the bell a second time.
"Hi, sorry, I was in the kitchen. Come in."
Jethro stepped through the door and handed her the flowers. "You look fabulous, Kate."
"Thank you. You look pretty good yourself. Thank you for the flowers. Come on in the kitchen while I get a vase."
Jethro looked around as they walked to the kitchen in the back of the apartment. It was small but tastefully furnished; comfortable but not overdone. It looked like just what he imagined Kate would have.
Kate turned from the putting water in the vase and asked, "Would you like a drink or shall we go?"
"I'm ready if you are."
"Yes, let's go ahead."
They went to dinner at a small, family run restaurant Ducky had recommended to Jethro. The food was wonderful and the atmosphere was quiet and elegant but not pretentious. Jethro made a mental note to thank Ducky on Monday.
"This is a wonderful little place. How did you ever find it?"
"Actually, Ducky suggested it. He did a good job didn't he?"
"Yes indeed. How is Ducky? I enjoyed him so much on our case."
"He's fine. His mother is getting on in years and keeps him busy when I'm not."
While Jethro and Kate were enjoying a romantic, adult evening out, Karen was dealing with a suddenly fussy and feverish two year old. When she tried to put Emma to bed the child clung to her and refused to be put down. She was unusually whiney and when Karen held her close she realized Emma was too warm. She gave her the last dose of Children's Tylenol in the house and sat rocking her in her bedroom. Eventually, Emma settled down and fell off to sleep in Karen's arms. Karen debated calling Jethro, not to come home but to stop at the drugstore on his way home. She knew if she called he would cut the date short and she hated for him to do that. She kept checking her watch trying to guage when to call so she didn't interrupt anything but still caught him before he got home. Finally, at ten fifteen she called him.
Jethro and Kate were sitting in her living room enjoying a glass of wine when his phone vibrated in his pocket. While he answered, Kate slipped off to the bathroom.
"Karen, is everything alright?" Jethro was shocked she had called and knew something had to be wrong.
"I'm so sorry to call you Jethro. Emma has a fever and I gave her the last of the Tylenol. I wanted to let you know so you could pick some up on the way home. She's asleep now but I was afraid you'd need it in the night or in the morning and not have any left. I'm sorry."
"Don't be. I'm glad you called. What happened, she was fine when I left?"
"Oh, I don't know. Could be cutting some teeth or a cold coming on. Like I said she's sleeping now so you take your time. I just wanted to catch you before you started home."
"Thank you Karen. I'll see you in half hour or so."
Kate came back in the room as he was putting his phone away.
"Everything alright? Not a case I hope."
"No, Emma has a fever and Karen said I'm out of Tylenol. Wanted to let me know so I can get some on the way home."
"I'm sorry to hear that. I'd love to have you stay Jethro, but I know you want to go home and see to Emma. I completely understand."
Jethro looked at her and in that moment he knew he was well and truly lost. He saw in Kate a woman he could actually love. Someone who understood what it meant to him to be a dad first and everything else second. He knew he had found a woman he would be willing to fall in love with. He took the two steps needed to reach her and took her hands in his. He looked her in the eyes and leaned down and did what he'd wanted to do for a long time. He kissed her. It was a sweet, slow kiss that moved up a notch when she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him back. He let his hands get all tangled in her hair as he deepened the kiss until neither of them had any breath left.
"Whew, that was very nice, Jethro."
"I've wanted to kiss you for a long Kate. You will never know how much it means to me that you understand how I feel about Emma."
"Of course I understand. It's one of the things I like most about you Jethro; you are a dad first and that's the way it should be. I wouldn't understand if you were any other way."
"One of the things you like? Care to name any more?"
"Well, after that kiss I'd have to say I really like your kissing skills. Care to demonstrate again before you leave?"
And he did. He pulled her flush against his solid body and framed her face with his big hands. He kissed her several sweet, light kisses before settling again at her mouth to take her breath away and make her weak in the knees.
When he finally pulled away he soothed her lips with his thumb and kissed her on the forehead.
"I had a really good time tonight Kate. I think we're going to have to do this again very soon."
"The dinner or the kissing?"
"Both. Especially the kissing."
"I agree. Now, go home and see about Emma. Don't forget to stop at the drugstore. Will you call me later and let me know how she is?"
"You sure? Might be late."
"I'll be up. Call me."
He kissed her once more quickly then left before he couldn't tear himself away.
Jethro thought about those kisses all the way home. He remembered to stop for the Tylenol and he was worried about Emma but the memory of how Kate's lips felt against his and how her body felt pressed close to him was enough to keep him smiling. When he got home he heard Emma as soon as he stepped in the house. She was in full cry and didn't sound as if she was going to be stopping any time soon. He took the steps two at a time and turned into her room to find Karen walking the floor holding a very unhappy little girl.
Karen heard him coming and was relieved he was finally home. As much as she had hated to call Jethro she knew Emma wanted her daddy. Sure enough when she turned so Emma could see him the crying lessened enough for Emma to be able to say, "Dada."
"Come here little one. What's the matter with daddy's girl?"
Jethro took Emma in his arms and brushed her unruly hair back from her face and kissed her on the forehead. He noticed she was still warm. She was doing that shuddering cry now as she tried to calm herself. Jethro held her and swayed with her talking to her constantly. Karen was changing the sheet on the bed and getting out clean pajamas.
"She slept until about ten minutes ago but she has been fussy and crying most of the evening. She can have another dose of Tylenol in an hour. Maybe a bath would help, I was about to do that when I heard you come in."
"Thank you Karen. I'm sorry you had to deal with a sick baby."
"Don't worry about it. It's bound to happen eventually. How was your dinner? Have a good time?"
"Dinner was wonderful and we had a very nice time. Now, I want you to go home and enjoy the rest of your weekend."
"I will. I'll call you tomorrow and see how our girl is feeling. Let me know if you need anything. There's juice ready in the fridge if she wants it."
"Thanks. I think maybe a bath will be a good idea. What do you think Em, wanna take a bath?"
Emma looked at him with teary eyes and said, "Bath dada bath."
"I think that's a yes. Come on let's go do that. Night Karen."
"Good night you two. I'll lock up on my way out."
Jethro gave Emma a cool bath and let her play in the water for a few minutes before wrapping her in a big, fluffy towel and taking her to his bed. He dried her off and rubbed some baby lotion all over her before getting her into a diaper and her pajamas. He carefully combed out her hair and dried it almost dry with the towel. He grabbed Lily the tiger and Emma's favorite blanket and headed downstairs. Emma wasn't interested in the juice so he settled the two of them in his recliner and told Emma all about Kate and their dinner together.
"Daddy had dinner with a really nice lady tonight Em. I think you'll like her. Her name is Kate and she's really pretty. She has nice brown eyes and she makes daddy laugh."
Emma studied him as he talked, reaching up to pat him on the cheek and pull at his lip. She was barely awake but she fought to keep her eyes open and watch her daddy talk to her. Every now and then she repeated a word or two.
"Some day soon you can meet Kate and I bet she thinks you're almost as pretty and special as daddy does. But don't worry, daddy will always love you the most. You will always be daddy's number one girl, Emma, no one will ever take your place."
By now Jethro was talking to himself because Emma was sound asleep in his arms. He looked at his watch and decided to wait a few minutes until he was sure she was really sleeping before he called Kate. When he was convinced Emma wouldn't wake up he reached for his phone and hit speed dial five.
"Hey, how is Emma?"
"She's asleep in my lap. She was crying when I got home but I gave her a bath and some lovin' and she's settled in for a while. She's still a little warm but hopefully she'll be good as new tomorrow."
"I'm glad. Listen, Jethro, I had a wonderful time tonight. Dinner was great and I really enjoyed our time together."
"Me too. Wanna do it again sometime?"
"I'd love to. Unfortunately I have to leave on Tuesday with the advance party for the First Lady's trip to Toronto. I'll be gone about ten days I imagine."
"Ten days? That's too long. How about lunch tomorrow?"
"Are you sure? I don't want you to feel pushed, Jethro. And if Emma isn't feeling good it might not be a good time."
"Yes, I'm sure. I don't want to not see you for almost two weeks. Emma will be fine tomorrow and if she's not I'll call you. Besides, it's just lunch. Unless you aren't ready to meet her."
"I'm absolutely ready to meet your daughter. Tell you what, I'll bring lunch. Is one o'clock okay for you?"
"That will be perfect. I'll see you tomorrow, Kate. Night."
"Goodnight, Jethro. And thanks again for a wonderful evening."
Jethro kicked off his shoes and settled back in his chair with Emma firmly in his arms and sound asleep. They stayed that way for four hours until Emma woke up and awakened her daddy by poking him in the eye. Jethro slowly opened his eyes and found his daughter staring right at him with a happy grin on her face.
"Well hello Emma. Are you feeling better?"
"Daddy, Emma hungry."
"Hungry huh? It's the middle of the night you silly girl."
"Toast daddy. Go eat."
Emma was squirming out of his grasp trying to get to the floor. Jethro sat up and let her slide down his legs to the floor. She got up and began pulling on his hand trying to encourage him to head to the kitchen.
"Okay, toast it is even if it's three thirty in the morning."
Jethro followed Emma into the kitchen and helped her sit in her seat at the table. He put his hand on her forehead and found she was no longer feverish.
"Emma, let daddy count your teeth."
Emma dutifully opened her mouth and Jethro gently probed her gums to see if she did indeed have teeth coming in. Sure enough, he felt bumps on the bottom, both sides where her last molars were coming in. As he began to pull his finger out, Emma pretended to bite him and when he exclaimed loudly she laughed and laughed. This was a game they had played many times when Emma had teeth coming in and Jethro would massage her gums. She delighted in making her daddy yell in mock pain.
"You have some new teeth coming in Em. Your last two."
"Listen, after we have this toast you and I are going back to bed. Right?"
"Right, daddy. Back to bed."
After Emma had her toast and small glass of milk, they gathered her tiger and her blanket and headed up the stairs to bed.
"I sleep with daddy."
Emma was tightly wrapped around her father and gave no indication of being willing to sleep in her own bed. That was fine with Jethro; he didn't mind her sleeping with him now and then. He plopped her down on his bed and went in the bathroom to change into some sleeping clothes. By the time he returned Emma was snuggled down under the covers and sleeping soundly. He watched her for a few minutes then turned off the light and joined her in dreamland.
The next morning Emma woke up feeling fine. Jethro fixed them breakfast then the two of them went outside and Jethro did some yard work while Emma played in the sandbox. Every now and then she came over to where he was working and "helped" by getting in the flower bed and moving some dirt around or she picked up sticks and piled them next to her daddy so he could throw them away. Then she'd go back to her sand toys and talk to the toy soldiers she had lined up on the edge of the box. Jethro spent a lot of time watching her and marveling at her happy demeanor. She babbled constantly to her toys and to him and most of the time now he understood her or at least he thought he did. Luckily for her daddy, Emma was always happy to be outside and she didn't mind getting dirty.
Shortly before noon Jethro took Emma inside and gave her a bath. After he got her dressed he sat her on his bed with some books and while he took a shower. This was a routine they had worked out in the last couple of months and it worked very well. Emma never got off the bed or bothered anything within her reach while her daddy was in the shower. Of course he didn't linger in there but still, he was very proud of her for staying put while he was otherwise occupied. Once he was dried off and at least semi-dressed, he opened the bathroom door so he could see her while he shaved or whatever else he needed to do. This was also a time when Emma talked to him a lot and he talked to her about what they were going to do that day or what they were having for lunch or just anything that came to mind. Jethro wanted Emma to have the sound of his voice imprinted in her mind so he talked to her constantly when they were alone.
After he was dressed the two of them went downstairs and Jethro picked up the house a little while he nervously waited for Kate to arrive. Emma was playing in the living room and Jethro was reading the sports page trying not to watch the clock. Emma had a tower of blocks that she kept building and knocking down and as it crashed down for the umpteenth time the door bell rang. Emma looked at her daddy and ran for the front door.