My Kensi didn't come back from Afghanistan.
I mean, don't misunderstand, a woman named Kensi Marie Blye arrived safely back in the United States ... but she wasn't my Kensi.
No. The woman who came back wasn't the one who had left. I guess I knew it the moment I first saw her as I led the Cleric across that valley floor to exchange him for my partner's and Jack Simon's lives. She walked right by me without even looking in my direction ... I chalked it up to the trauma and stress of whatever had happened to her up in those caves.
But when I watched her saying 'good-bye' to Jack and she watched him walk out of her life once more ... I saw the way her eyes never left him as he stopped to talk to me. After we spoke and I stepped around him to head to my partner, her eyes were fixed on his back ... she even sidestepped when I inadvertently obstructed her view of him. Again, I suspected what had happened to her, but I fought down the thoughts about what might have actually transpired between her and her former fiance' when they were held together for so long.
The flight back to the States was long and we all slept for most of it, all except for me. I couldn't take my eyes off of her. I watched her sleep for hours ... she seemed so peaceful and she must have been dreaming because she smiled several times.
I made the mistake of thinking she was dreaming about me. When the rough landing at Dover Air Force Base didn't rouse her, I gently shook her arm. When she called out a man's name that wasn't mine ... I felt my world begin to crumble.
Granger whisked her away to the D.C. offices so every agency with abbreviations for titles could de-brief her ... Hetty ordered us all back to LA. I fought it, but Callen and Sam drug me back ... I haven't quite forgiven them for that. Three days later, Nell told me that Kensi was back home. I went by her place to check on her but I chickened out on her doorstep and just left her a quick text message ... didn't get a response to that.
The first day she came back to work, Hetty separated us ... sending me out with Nell while Kensi stayed up in operations with Eric. Hetty said it was to evaluate her and let her re-acclimate to home, and I guess she was right. Things just kind of trucked along from there but she still kept me at arm's length ... telling me she still needed some time alone to sort things out. I understood and let her be, telling her I would be patient and wait for her to let me back in.
It was late one night and everyone else had already left for the day. I had forgotten to turn in a file for Nell so I ran into Operations to leave it on Eric's desk. She was standing right in front of the big screen plasma, staring at several pictures of one particular person. In some of them, he was by himself ... but in others, there was a beautiful brunette with mismatched eyes with her arms wrapped around him. I watched as tears streamed down Kensi's face as she looked at all the pictures of her and Jack ... I don't think she ever knew I was even in the room.
Weeks later when Hetty sent us all on our yearly sabbaticals so we could get some rest and come back recharged for a new year of fighting the bad guys, I asked Kensi if she wanted to go away on that trip to Hawaii with me like we had planned the night before she left on her secret mission. She dropped her head to the floor and said that, since she had been gone for so long, her mother had asked her to spend some time with her over the summer. I probably faked the best smile of my life that day but I told her to have fun and to stay safe ... she told me that she would.
I went home that day and put two round trip tickets to Hawaii for sale on the internet ... there was no reason for me to go anywhere at that point.
Imagine my surprise when I ran into Kensi's mom, Julia at the beach and Kensi wasn't with her. In fact, Julia said that she had barely spoke to Kensi since she came back and no, she hadn't made any plans to spend any time with her daughter that summer.
It was there in front of me ... but I just couldn't accept it.
When Nell showed up one day with Eric on one of our surfing outings, she picked up on my sour mood and did a little 'off-the-books' snooping. There were tears in her eyes when she told me that Kensi had flown out of LAX, had a short lay-over in New York, and had landed in Paris where she was staying at one of those fancy French hotels that I can't pronounce.
And for the past two weeks ... Jack Simon had stayed with her.
The rest of that summer just plain out sucked.
When the vacations ended and we all piled back into the Mission, Kensi seemed happier than I had seen her in a long time. She laughed and joked with the team, cracked horrendous jokes, and ate too many doughnuts ... but she still kept me at arm's length and Hetty eventually teamed me up with Sam and put Kensi with Callen.
Sam and I slowly found our groove and we actually worked pretty well together ... but it wasn't the same. I wanted my Kensi back ... I wanted to be partners with the best woman I had ever met ... I wanted so many things that just weren't going to happen, not now.
A few months had passed when, as usual, I came in late to the bullpen and the rest of the team was already there. I caught a couple of gasps of 'congratulations' and "it's beautiful' before I rounded the corner and found a small gaggle of co-workers gathered around Kensi's desk.
She was radiant as she showed off the small diamond ring on her left hand.
That's when I knew that my Kensi had never left those dark caves in the hills and mountains of Afghanistan ... that I had lost her forever ... she wasn't coming back. At least, she wasn't coming back to me.
I don't remember most of the days after that but it was just a few weeks before I was called in to Lieutenant Bates' office. I thought I was in trouble, again, but he said he actually had good news this time. Seems I aced the officer's qualification course and was being promoted from Detective to Lieutenant. The news was tempered slightly when he said that my new position wouldn't correspond with keeping the Liason position with NCIS. He knew how much I loved working there, so he gave me a few days to think it over.
I called Hetty before I even got out of the parking lot, telling her the news about my promotion and my choices. She asked me to meet her at the same bar I met with her during the Jess Traynor case and by the time she got there, I had already killed two Jack and Cokes. She didn't speak as she sat down beside me and ordered one of the same. We sat there for a few minutes sipping our drinks, then she slid a file folder over in front of me. When I opened it, I found an updated application to join NCIS, all my important information already typed in. I flipped to the last page which held the only blank box ... the one for my signature to join the NCIS family once and for all.
Hetty didn't speak when I closed the folder and slid the unsigned paperwork back over to her. She let out a long sigh and spoke of unintended consequences of her decisions and choices before she wished me well and left me sitting alone on a hard bar stool in a smelly bar.
The team gathered around me to say good-bye and Nell's tears caused my own to fall. Sam hugged me so hard, I heard something pop. Callen whispered in my ear that there would always be a spot on his team for me if I ever changed my mind. Eric talked of keeping up with the surf report and catching me on the waves. Nell cried into my shoulder until she couldn't anymore. Hetty wrapped her arms around my waist and said that the team wouldn't be the same without me.
Kensi just watched until everyone else was done, she hadn't moved or said a thing the entire time. When I hefted the box that held all my personal crap, she finally stepped forward. I stared at her outstretched hand like it was covered in open sores ... after all we had been through ... a simple handshake was all this new Kensi was going to give me. I didn't smile as I finally shook her hand and she just gave me a quick "Take care of yourself, Deeks".
No "I'm going to miss you" or "Sorry things didn't work out between us" or ... well ... anything. She spun on her heel and flew up to operations ... and that's was the last time I saw her.
My new position put me back in Vice and I spent a lot of time undercover, which helped me forget ... most of it anyway. I saw Eric from time to time on Saturdays and Sundays when the waves were kicking out in the Pacific. There were times when Nell was with him and she was quickly becoming a regular with our outings. She was as careful as a mouse not to mention my former partner's name ... and for the most part, I was grateful for that. Sam and Callen hit me up for a beer/pizza/game night every so often and I realized just how much I missed working with these people ... but I also knew there was no going back for me.
Then came the moment that led me to where I am at this very moment. I'm sitting on the beach watching the sun set, my feet hurt because I walked all the way here without putting on my shoes, and I'm finally going to say good-bye to my Kensi.
She never came back to me.
I was patient and gave her the space she needed to clear her head and figure out how she wanted to handle things ... or our 'Thing' to be more precise. When we had first arrived back from Afghanistan, a small part of me was afraid she would run. I wish I had listened to that part of my brain because it was right.
The Kensi that came back ran ... but I wasn't the man she ran to.
Now, I'm sitting on the warm sand and there are tears on my cheeks. The card had been in the stack of mail on my doorstep and it was the last thing I ever thought I would see. It had my name and address on it in Nell's distinctive handwriting, and I wondered how hard it was for her to actually fill it out and mail it to me.
I cut it open with my pocket knife and a beautiful white invitation fell out into my lap. There were silver bells on the front and a small piece of gossamer tissue paper separated the two halfs. The words were hand written in sweeping caligraphy in silver ink. I got through the first part before I found myself walking barefoot the six blocks to the beach.
The Friends and Family of
Kensi Marie Blye
Cordially Invite You to Attend Her Forthcoming Marriage to
Jackson Daniel Simon
on the Twenty-Third Day of April ...
That's as far as I got before my feet were carrying me out my door.
I'm sitting on the sand, tears in my eyes ... and telling my Kensi good-bye.
My Kensi never left Afghanistan.
My Kensi died somewhere up in the caves where they held her for weeks.
My Kensi would never have broken my heart and left me all alone like this.
My Kensi was gone and the woman who had come back with us was marrying another man some time in April.
And I have no idea how I'm going to survive my life without her ...