Word Count: 728
Character(s): Kate and Tony
Genre: General/Character Study
Summary: Kate muses on her partner.
Spoilers: Season 2
Disclaimer: Don't own them.
The most frustrating thing about him was that no matter how much he annoyed her, prodded her, and made himself generally repulsive, it was impossible to hate him. He had some ridiculous inherent charm which caught her off-guard when she least expected it. The only way to combat it was to wind herself up before he had a chance to say a word and make his life miserable, persecute his every breath. She called it a pre-emptive strike, but in all honesty, it was defensive mechanism protecting her from much more than his x-rated-innocent antagonism.
She went over a line he had never crossed and she went over it with a regularity which was beginning to scare her.
There was something about his tone, with her and with McGee, something which wouldn't allow her to classify him as a genuine jerk or classify his behaviour as shit-stirring; he was all in fun. Their retaliations were not. Kate didn't know why McGee sometimes pushed back so much harder, why his revenge brought actual malicious aforethought into something which had never been malignant, but she knew why she did. If she hurt him, if she never let him know that sometimes he really was funny, if before he could have a chance to toy with her she could cut him off at the knees, she could prevent the charm from ever coming into play.
He didn't charm her when she was nasty. He either crept away to lick his wounds (and she swallowed the guilt with an attitude that it was better than the alternative) or he dialled up his obnoxiousness until her most vicious attacks were deserved.
You could say they brought out the worst in each other, but Kate had to admit to herself that it was her fault it had gotten so out of hand. She couldn't resist upping the ante, and when she didn't want to play anymore, she rigged the game.
The second most annoying thing about him was that no matter how angry she was with him, he never became less appealing. She could remind herself that his personality grated on her until the cows came home, but it never stopped her eyes following his movements across the room, her gaze constantly straying towards the space he occupied. His personal beauty drew her attention regardless of the latest stupid thing he had done. She justified that it was like being in the room with an art object, on a purely aesthetic level it was nicer to watch him than not to watch him, it was only human nature to be fascinated. It didn't mean she was compromising her principals.
The third most annoying thing was that he was the most aware person she had ever met. He knew she was watching him, knew that she knew he knew, and he allowed her to get away with it. That was another thing; when the situation wasn't serious he would hold over and crow and gloat until she thought her head would explode, but when something was legitimately important or close to the vest, he held peace. He was even supportive. And he didn't want any credit.
They (she and McGee and even Gibbs) continued to razz him when he had let them know he actually cared, when he let it show they'd hit a sore spot. They kicked him when he was down. He took that without retort or condemnation, but he never gave it back. When they were down, he tried to help them up.
Maybe that was the real reason she could never stay angry with him. Day-to-day he could be a nightmare, but there was no one you could trust more to have your back when you really, really needed it. Physically or emotionally. He didn't judge and he didn't ask to be let in any more than you were willing to give him. He was just there, with distraction or support, being far too perceptive for her peace of mind. And he would throw himself into harm's way for any of them with the slightest provocation.
He had to be the great one over the little stuff, but when he did something truly extraordinary he seemed desperate that everyone forget it.
What had she done to deserve his loyalty unto death?
She couldn't understand him, he saw to it she rarely saw a glimpse of who he was, so there was nothing to be done but to repay his faith in her likewise.
He may be in isolation, but she would see to it that he did not die alone.