Chapter 8

AN: Thank you all, so much, for your faithful reading and replying to this story. I am so sorry I won't be able to reply to you all personally, I let real life get in the way. At any rate, please know that ALL your reviews and comments are read and appreciated. Thanks again, JackiLeigh

Tony pulled out his ringing phone and checked the caller ID. He hesitated, putting down his slice of pizza and muting his TV. He put the phone to his ear.

"Hello, Agent Todd." Tony replied.

Kate paused, for just a second. She had not really expected such formality. They were not, after all, in the office.

"Tony, I …." Kate started.

"DiNozzo, Agent Todd…Agent DiNozzo." Tony snapped.

"We aren't at work." Kate said, puzzled and irritated by the attitude.

"All we have, Agent Todd, is work." Tony replied. "We weren't friends before all this. Why would we start now?"

Kate sighed, Tony did have a point.

"Why did you call, Agent Todd?" Tony asked.

"I just wanted to…." Kate faltered, suddenly at a loss for words, even though, before she had placed the call, she had it all planned out in her head.

"We don't…chat, Agent Todd. What do you want?" Tony asked, again.

Kate commented to herself on the coldness of the conversation. Tony heard her.

"It's not cold, Agent Todd. I'm speaking with a co-worker. All we discuss is work." Tony replied. "And since this is after working hours, I have to wonder why she is calling me."

Kate didn't know what to say.

"Goodbye, Agent Todd." Tony said, about to hang up.

"I'm sorry, Tony." Kate replied. "That's what I called to say. I'm sorry. I just…I had you figured out. I had you all figured out. I had you pigeon-holed as a frat boy, and I rejected all information to the contrary. I was…I was ashamed of myself for being wrong, when I figured out the truth. I was ashamed I had done you such a disservice. And now that I…I've seen the type of person you are, I…I just…." Kate sighed. "I am a profiler. And I thought a good one. But a good profiler doesn't let her personal feelings bias her judgment. And I did…I did and I am very, very sorry for that, Agent DiNozzo, that's just…that's all I wanted to say." Kate replied. "Goodbye." Kate hung up the phone not letting Tony reply.

Tony held the phone to his ear for just a few seconds longer, after Kate hung up. He had been astounded by her admission. He couldn't help but smile as he hung up the phone.

Kate was hesitant about what Tony would say to her the next morning at work. Would he bring up the phone call? It had nothing, at all, to do with work, so chances were…. But still, she wondered…would he accept her apology? Would he take what she had said as an excuse? She didn't know. And she felt like she needed to know where she stood with him.

Tony, as it turned out, had not brought up the subject. He not mentioned the fact she had called him. He had actually not said much to her this morning.

"Agent Todd…" Tony called her over to his desk.

Kate got up and stood in front of him. She was actually nervous, unsure of what Tony would say to her.

"I know it was hard for you to say what you did to me, hard to admit you were wrong." Tony stated. "I get that. I don't need your friendship, Agent Todd. But I do need you to understand that I would prefer a friendly work atmosphere." Tony paused. "I've been in enough situations where I was 'surrounding by co-workers just doing a job.' I don't like that atmosphere. I don't like that type of arrangement. But, having said that, Agent Todd, we cannot go back to the way things were. We can't go back to the joking, friendly, jovial atmosphere because human nature, being what it is…we all would fall back into old habits. And I can't allow that to happen. I deserve your respect, I've earned it. But I haven't demanded it before. I haven't acted as though I should have it. That is all on me. But now that I do have it, I want to keep it. I want…I need you to trust my judgment. And I need to be a person you feel like you can trust."

Kate nodded. "I understand. And I meant every word I said. I see the type of person you are and I think I can appreciate it now. I needed the wake-up call. And Gibbs is right. I shouldn't have had to have been slapped in the face with it. But I had to be, and that just…it adds to the regrets I have regarding you."

Tony was floored by her honesty. He didn't say anything for a moment. Then he nodded. "I'm glad we've reached an understanding, Agent Todd."

"Me, too." Gibbs said, rounding the corner into the bullpen. "Marine in Shenandoah State Park…grab your gear."