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She missed him. It had been a month since she’d seen him other than via a screen. One month; four weeks; 31 days; 744 hours; 44640 minutes or 2678400 seconds. It didn’t matter how you put it, it was driving her mad. She just needed to touch him, to be near him. But that would have to wait, finding Vance and stopping Hakim had to come first.

She lost track of time but, finally, Vance was back with his daughter and Hakim was in custody. After a long day, including being locked in a nuclear power plant that was about to go critical, Ellie was done. She had sent Nick home earlier after reminding Gibbs that Nick would be more productive after a good meal and a full night of sleep in his own bed. But now, she was still feeling off. When he was in Afghanistan with Senator Phillips, it was because he was on the other side of the world but now it was because he wasn’t there with her.

She showered and changed at the Navy Yard, thankful she still kept a change of clothes in her locker. She made the decision to go and see him, after making a stop at the grocery store of course. She would pick up all of his favourites and cook him a decent meal. He deserved it after everything he’d had to put up with this last month. She remembered what it was like in Afghanistan, and what that first home cooked meal was like once back home.

She made it to his place in record time, earning her a few harried looks from other customers as she rushed around. It wasn’t until she knocked on his door that it occurred to her that he might not be alone. Why didn’t she think of that earlier? All she could do was cross her fingers and hope that she wasn’t about to make a complete idiot of herself.

He was taking forever and Ellie had just made the decision to leave the groceries there and go when the door opened and Nick looked surprised to see her, “Ellie. What are you doing here?”
Seeing him brought her nerves back full force, “I brought you some groceries. You’re probably busy. I’ll just go.”
She turned to leave when she felt him take her hand, an electric pulse ran up her arm and her skin tingled where he was touching her. She suspected he felt it too judging by the look on his face. “Come in. Please.”
Ellie paused, studying his face, before she nodded and picked up the bags he hadn’t noticed.
“Damn Ellie. Did you buy half the store.”
Ellie blushed and looked down at her feet, "I was thinking of cooking you dinner but it occurred to me that you might have made plans.”
“My only plan was to shower and eat. I haven’t thought much past that. I was just about to jump in the shower when you knocked, that’s why it took me so long to answer.”
Ellie perked up at that, relieved that he wouldn’t be rushing out to meet up with anyone. “Well then. You go have that shower while I sort this lot out.”

She was part way through straightening up the kitchen when her phone rang, checking the ID revealed the caller to be Nick’s sister, Lucia. She had tried to call Nick’s phone but, since he was in the shower, he hadn’t answered and she was a bit panicked. It took a couple of minutes to calm her down and reassure Lucia that Nick was safe and was currently enjoying his first decent shower in over a month. Knowing that Lucia wouldn’t fully calm down until she had spoken to Nick, Ellie kept her on the phone. Some time later, Ellie heard the shower turn off but gave Nick enough time to shave.

After five minutes, she excused herself from Lucia and muted the phone before knocking on the bathroom door. Nick opened the door wrapped in one towel while using another to dry his face and hair, leaving Ellie stunned and more than a little bit breathless, his hand on her arm brought her attention back and looking up to see Nick trying, and failing, to hide a smile
“Lucia called my phone. She tried you on yours but panicked when you didn’t answer. You should talk to her.”
Nick smiled softly at her before taking her phone, “Thanks Ellie.”
Ellie took a second to take another look at Nick, making sure he saw exactly where her eyes went. She used her finger to get a bit of shaving foam that he had missed on his chin and grazing his lower lip with her thumb before turning back to the kitchen to make a start on dinner. Two could tease.

It didn’t take long before Nick emerged from his bedroom dressed only in a pair of basketball shorts but carrying a t-shirt, it’s like he was trying to kill her. He took a minute to watch her before walking over to her, putting her phone on the counter before coming to a stop behind her, his arms slipping around her waist and his chin dropping onto her shoulder.
“Every time I think you couldn’t be any more amazing, you go and prove me wrong. Lucia told me what you did for her and Amanda while I was gone.”
Ellie shrugged the shoulder that he wasn’t leaning on. The heat radiating from his bare chest was making her head spin, “They’re family.”
Nick felt his heart stutter at that. She spoke as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. He squeezed her gently and kissed her cheek before letting go and putting his shirt on. “Whatever the reason, thank you Ellie.”
Ellie smiled to herself. She could easily get used to this, “You’re welcome Nick.”

They worked together to get dinner cooked, eaten and the kitchen cleaned up. Like with the job, they worked seamlessly together, as if they’d been doing it for years. Yet Ellie still didn’t want to leave. The thought of walking out that door was giving her some pretty intense anxiety. As if Nick could sense that, he dragged her to the couch and put a movie on. She didn’t remember much past the opening credits.

The next time her eyes opened, it was morning and she was now laying on the couch covered with a blanket and she could hear Nick in the kitchen. She loved the feeling that she got at the thought of them both waking up in the same house but it filled her with sadness to know that she would leave and they’d still only be friends.

She got up from the couch and walked into the kitchen to find a still-sleepy Nick in just a pair of shorts with bed hair like she’d never seen, even from her brothers. She knew she couldn’t keep denying what had become a massive part of her, she had fallen in love with her partner. But before she talked to Nick, there were some other conversations she needed to have first. With her mind made up, she walked into the kitchen, yawning so she wouldn’t startle him. She stopped next to him, put an arm around his waist and her head on his arm. “Morning Nick.”
“Well good morning sleepyhead. So glad you could finally join the land of the living.”
Ellie gave him a less than polite look before stealing his coffee from him. As always, the banter was fun and easy between them. This was the part of their relationship that she liked the best. That no matter the situation, they could always find the fun. This solidified her decision and although she had a feeling it wasn’t going to be easy she hoped it would be worth it.