Pairing: Kate Todd/Tony DiNozzo
Fic Title: Slices of a Life Worth Living
Why This Must Be Read: I've so very rarely found a story in which Kate comes off sounding like herself and not some love-sick puppy, and this story happens to be one of them. Her relationship with her family (which I don't think I've ever seen before) is handled beautifully, with each member of her family given a distinct personality that makes it easy to see how Kate was shaped into the woman she would become. However, that's not the focus of the story; the slowly-evolving relationship between Kate and Tony is. And it is slowly-evolving, but I think that's one of the most positive aspects of this story; the pacing is just fabulous. The ending feels very bittersweet, considering this story takes place pre-SWAK and Twilight and is so good at maintaining canon that you're left feeling melancholy because you know what's going to happen in just a few short weeks.
I really could go on all day about how much I love this story. I'll go ahead and leave you with an excerpt to whet your appetite and the suggestion that you clear a nice chunk of your day to read this; it is over 11,000 words. :)
Integrating Tony into her life is surprisingly simple. Although honestly, she had never planned on letting him in in the first place. He was arrogant and conceited and misogynistic and sexist and just generally a pain in her ass. But somewhere along the way, inexplicably, and they had become friends. And then, he had become a part of her life. A part of her routine.
Tony gets to work about five minutes before Kate, and always has a cup of black coffee ready when she walks through the door, because she's a bear otherwise. Though she bitches about it, ultimately she lets him drive when they travel, because she's likely to get them lost anyway. He supplies the snacks when they're going long-distance, getting two bags of Doritos instead of one because although she insists she's not hungry, she always steals most of his. She types his reports for him, because it takes him hours to hunt-and-peck his way through them.
Having Tony be a part of her routine scares Kate a little. It's almost as if he's trespassing into something sacred - something incredibly intimate. She's dated men for years without becoming accustomed to their presence intruding upon the familiarity that is always so oddly comforting to her. But with Tony, she doesn't have to work at it. One day, she simply turns around and there he is, in the center of it all, as if he's been there all along. It would take more effort to remove him from her life than it had taken to invite him into it.
And what's really frightening is that it doesn't bother her at all.