FROM COASTALREADER: I wanted to thank all for showing such patience...a Densi trait...and hope that they still find our story worth the wait. I certainly think so! Life for the two of us took over for a tends to happen and we hope you enjoy our latest chapter as a peace offering. Bamie02 has outdone herself and I'm once again honored to be weaving this tale alongside her. As always, special thanks to justareader07 - you are so appreciated.

Without further ado - on with the chapter and Happy Mother's Day!

Please see my AN at the bottom. Hope you all like this chapter.

Deeks was about to win the game… this last shot would secure his victory. Laura stood on the side, watching intently, amusement on her face. She noticed a uniformed man walking towards them, and she hoped with everything in her that this was the distraction she had been hoping for, knowing it would be a long time before Deeks let her live this loss down.

"This is it, folks. The perfect shot to show everyone that Marty Deeks is, in fact, the champion of the world." He positioned his feet and heard Laura snort. He shifted his eyes to her for a second, a smirk on his face.

"Get ready for the sweet taste of defeat, Laura." He brought the ball up, his hands twirling the ball while he took his stance, his eyes on the goal now. Knees bent, he dribbled the ball for a minute before bringing it back to chest level. Elbows bent, Deeks took a deep breath, and was just about to make the perfect shot when a voice rang out, distracting him long enough for the ball to hit the rim, spin once and fall to the side.

Laura let out a yelp of enthusiastic glee as Deeks turned, glaring at the man standing there.

"Delivery for Marty Deeks?" The man looked around, waiting for someone to step up and sign for the package.

Deeks narrowed his eyes as he looked at the box the man was holding and stepped forward.

"That's me." He took the box and set it on the table before signing off on the delivery. "Thanks." The man nodded and turned, leaving Deeks to stare at the box.

"What the hell is that?" Laura sidled up next to him, amusement in her voice.

"It's a box full of none of your damn business." Laura's eyes widened as she laughed, watching as Deeks looked at it. She could tell that he was worried that whatever the contents were, it would be like opening Pandora's Box.

"Are you going to stand there and stare at it like it has three heads, or actually open it?" Laura tapped her foot for a minute, before letting out a heavy sigh and pulling her phone out and looking down at the box. Deeks looked at her, his head cocked to the side.

"What are you doing?"

"Googling the return address."

Deeks grabbed the phone out of her hand and put it on the table. "Calm down over there Nosy Rosy."

Laura took a step back and watched as Deeks pulled a pocket knife out and cut it open. He pursed his lips together and pulled another box out and set it on the table, a note attached to the top. Pulling the envelope off and opening it, he was greeted with his first note.

Sometimes a box is just a box

Confusion on his face, he opened the next box and was again greeted by a smaller box inside with another note. He could hear Laura chuckling as she watched but he ignored her, opening his second note.

And sometimes it's not

Deeks cleared his throat and made a clicking noise with his mouth as he repeated the box opening, not surprised to see a smaller box and another note.

Patience is a virtue

By this time, Deeks had an idea as to who had sent this and where it was headed. He muttered under his breath, "Yeah, I'm not so sure of that right now," as he pulled his next box out.

"Someone thought I would really appreciate this Russian Nesting Doll bullshit right now. My god, this is crazy." He glanced over at Laura, knowing she was enjoying this. And inside, Deeks was enjoying it, too. He had always been the suitor, and now it seemed like he was the one being wooed. He pulled the next box out, this one smaller (thank God), and read the note.

Layers have been peeled away

Explanations have been given

More apologies to say

Am I forgiven?

He shook this box as he let the words sink in. Was she forgiven? Hearing something else in this box, he pondered the question, but he already knew the answer. What had transpired before the explanation… well, if it had been left at that, then no. But hearing what she'd had to say, seeing the experiences from her point of view, he couldn't fault her.

There was some kind of connection there, something neither of them could deny. Kensi could very well have left things alone, leave him wondering what the hell had happened, and gone on her merry way. The fact that she had asked him to just listen, without wanting or expecting forgiveness, spoke volumes. She had been open and honest about the entire thing, her emotions very real. He believed she had opened herself up more to him then to even the people closest to her. And then getting asked on a second date. Yeah, there could be forgiveness there.

If he was honest with himself, forgiveness had started as soon as he had sat down in that coffee shop, it didn't matter what the explanation was. Sometimes, things were worth fighting for, and forgiving for. Their paths had crossed for a reason, and he knew now they were both on the same page and ready to see where this particular path took them.

His last box was even smaller, but there was no note on top. Opening this one, he let out a relieved sigh when he pulled a piece of paper out by itself, no further boxes left to be open.

Tonight 8:00pm

40 South Locust Avenue, Long Beach, CA

"Hey Deeks, What's in the box?" Laura had been watching from the side, but it seemed like he had reached the last box. When she didn't get an answer, she walked over and looked over his shoulder, seeing the address there.

"Oooo La La. A date! Where at?" Deeks had already pulled his phone out and was Googling the address, surprised and impressed when he saw where the date would be.

"The Sky Room." He looked up at Laura, who was clearly excited about the restaurant choice.

"Hubster took me there for our anniversary. It was phenomenal." Laura had a twinkle in her eye as she spoke. Their anniversary dinner had been more than phenomenal, it had been captivating and romantic and perfect. Kensi had done extremely well taking Deeks to The Sky Room for their date. And Laura knew by the location alone that Kensi was serious about wanting to move things forward with Deeks.

"And dress nice, Deeks. This place is classy, so don't go embarrassing me."

Deeks scoffed at her. "You don't need to worry about me. I clean up nicely, if I do say so myself. It's my date.. she's…." Deeks brought his hand up to his face, tapping his chin for a second. "She's more sassy than classy."

"I bet she knocks your socks off."

"One can only hope." Laura saw the mischief in Deeks' eyes and just laughed. Deeks was still smiling as he looked down at the notes and the boxes spread out on the table. Patience. Patience to open box after box. Patience to peel away layers from a woman who was more complex than a rubix cube. Patience. Prior to meeting Kensi, Deeks would have said he had the patience of a saint. But he hadn't learned the true meaning to that phrase until a feisty brunette burst into his world with a bang - literally.

A thought popped into his head as he was putting the boxes away. Anything worth having is worth waiting for. Deeks smiled. Yeah, he could definitely do the patience thing.

The two senior partners stood outside the door, watching their junior agent shoot the targets. One after the other, it was the same pattern: head, heart, groin, repeat. They watched as Kensi would mutter something to herself while she put up a new target and then repeat the whole spectacle again. Both men were past feeling sorry for the makeshift bad guys and were now trying to figure out who was going to go in and find out what was wrong.

"Flip a coin." Sam glanced at Callen, and saw his partner shake his head.

"Nope, I've already done my good deed. It's your turn."

Sam furrowed his brows, an incredulous look on his face.


"I sent more messages to Deeks about the first date than you did. Ergo, your turn."

"You think because you shot off ONE more message than me, this gets put in my hands?"

"Your hands are much more capable and knowledgeable than mine when it comes to relationships." Callen watched Kensi for another minute before looking at Sam.

"She needs someone who knows what it's like and how to manage the minefields out there. I don't exactly have a great track record for this."

Sam pursed his lips for a second before letting out a heavy sigh.

"Alright." He knew Callen's words held truth in them. If there was anyone within the Office of Special Projects who knew how hard it was to not only have a relationship, but what it takes to make it work, it was him.

Callen patted him on the shoulder before walking away, letting Sam do his thing.

Sam watched for another minute while Kensi emptied another clip. He was willing to stand here all day until she was done - now more than ever he was thankful for the patience his wife and kids had taught him. Soon enough, the room was silent and Kensi leaned over, head down and arms stretched out on the counter supporting her. It looked like the weight of the world was on her shoulders right now. The pause gave Sam his chance, and he opened the door.

"Not really in the mood, Sam." Kensi didn't look up, but she knew Callen and Sam had been watching her and it was only a matter of time before the father of the team came in.

"What are you talking about? I just want to make sure my gun is sighted in." Sam checked his gun and put a target up, pushing the button to move it backwards into position. He could feel Kensi's eyes on him, looking at him suspiciously.

He put the earmuffs on and aimed, watching Kensi out of the corner of his eye until she placed her ear protection back on as well. Not once glancing in her direction, he pulled the trigger and started shooting.

The two took turns with the targets. While one reloaded and put a fresh target up, the other was making their shots. No words or looks were exchanged, but the familiarity of the routine and the presence of Sam helped to calm Kensi's nerves.

Twenty minutes later, both stopped and looked at each other. Sam raised his eyebrows at her and picked up his gun before heading to the armory, knowing Kensi would follow suit to clean her gun.

Once they were seated and the guns taken apart, Kensi fully expected Sam to start talking. His silence during target practice was welcoming, but in here it was unnerving. She didn't have any barriers here if he decided it was time for the fatherly talk, she had nowhere to go in here to hide from it. Sam had a way about him that Kensi knew she'd end up spilling everything to him, and she wasn't sure she wanted to do that. She was a private person by choice. Her past had too many secrets, too many unanswered questions, and too many truths she wasn't ready to admit.

Kensi sighed and glanced at Sam who was ignoring her. She started cleaning the barrel, her mind jumping to the date tonight. In a few hours… Dear God.

"You seem a bit… on edge. Keep jabbing that swab in the barrel like that and you'll be able to take a shot of whiskey out of it."

Kensi didn't say anything, and Sam grinned at the scowl on her face. Whatever was going on in her head was serious. If she wanted to talk, he was here to listen.

"Why aren't you doling out advice, or giving words of wisdom or something? Why are you just sitting there?" She put her gun and supplies down and looked at him.

"I have no idea what you want me to say here, Kensi." He stopped what he was doing and made eye contact, silently pleased when she didn't look away. He knew she'd give, it was only a matter of time.

"You and Callen probably did rock, paper, scissors to see who would figure out what was going on. Callen won, much to your dismay. You got the short end of the stick and ended up here." Kensi sat back and crossed her arms as Sam chuckled.

"Oh Kens. Callen couldn't beat me at rock, paper, scissors if he cheated every time. You should know that by now."

Kensi narrowed her eyes at him as he settled back and stared at her. He had way more training and patience at this kind of thing than she did.

Rolling her eyes slightly, she gave in, just like they both knew she would.

"It's Deeks. And a second chance second date."

"Second chance? What did he do?"

"It was me that did something, not him." Kensi whispered it, breaking the eye contact and looking back at her gun.

Sam just raised his eyebrows in silence, before cocking his head at her and waited for her to look up again. When she finally met his gaze, he smiled reassuringly at her.

"I'm not going to ask what happened, because everyone is entitled to their secrets, but chin up buttercup. Whatever it was, I'm going to assume you did some apologizing, which led to a 'second chance second date' and well… don't hold back, Kens. Life will throw anything and everything at you but if you want him, then go get him. Sometimes it's just that simple."

Kensi smiled a little at him and nodded, before finishing up her cleaning and putting her gun back together while Sam did the same. Sam held the door opened and Kensi chuckled a little as she walked out.

"So that's it? That's all I'm going to get of the infamous 'Sam Hanna Wisdom'?

"Don't want to overwhelm you with my vast knowledge of the world and the inner workings of males." Sam stopped and winked at her, making Kensi laugh. "Some things are meant to be figured out by yourself. You're a smart girl, Kensi. You go after what you want. And if it's a certain shaggy haired surfer who makes lame jokes and has wisely agreed to go on a second date, then look at it like this. You messed up somewhere - everyone does - but you both see the potential of something amazing there and you're doing what you can to fix it. Stop dwelling. Go out, have fun, show him the real you and see what happens."

As they made their way toward the bull pen, Callen slyly looked at them, seeing Sam give a slight nod of his head. Kensi looked a little more in control now, which he was thankful for. Everyone was silent as Kensi packed her bag up and turned her computer off, yelling 'goodnight' as she walked out.

Callen put the paper down and looked over at Sam, the silent question in his eyes and Sam leaned back.

"Our girl is growing up, G." The proud look on Sam's face had Callen chuckling a little, but he was relieved.

"About time."

Deeks pulled up the address ten minutes early. He handed his keys to the Valet and walked inside. He scanned the lobby area, appreciating the beautiful details of the building as well as searching for a certain beautiful woman.

He noted several ladies off to the side, clearly waiting for another member of their party as they stared at Deeks. The women weren't ugly, that's for sure, but there was only one woman he was interested in. Finally, his eyes landed on a brunette who had on a black dress with red lace accents that landed just above the knee, black heels and her hair swept up and to the side. She was staring at a picture of Clark Gable that was hanging on the wall and before he knew what was happening, Deeks was placing his hand on her back.

"You know, there was a time when Elizabeth Taylor, Clark Gable and Cary Grant used to roam these halls. Liz would have had all the men's attention as soon as she walked in the room, but she wouldn't be able to hold a candle to you." His gazed into Kensi's mismatched brown eyes and smiled at her, loving the rush of color that appeared on her cheeks.

"And you would be giving Clark a run for his money. All the ladies would be batting their eyes and maybe one or two would actually swoon."

Deeks laughed when Kensi winked at him. He leaned down, whispering conspiratorially into her ear. "Good thing my girl doesn't swoon. She kicks ass and takes names. And looks damn good doing it."

Kensi chuckled before she picked up on his wording. She leaned back, catching his eye.

"Your girl, huh?" she asked, raising her eyebrows. Deeks smiled at her but didn't answer. He simply held his arm out to her, the spark affecting them both as she looped her arm in his, letting him lead the way to the elevator.

An attendant was waiting, smiling as he held the door open for them to enter. His name was George and he looked to be pushing 80, but you never would have guessed that by his enthusiasm as he gave them a history of the Breakers Hotel and The Sky Room. When they reached the top, both Kensi and Deeks were extremely impressed with the experience and thanked him as they got off the elevator. The attendant smiled at them, "You two have something special. I've seen a lot of couples come and go in my time, and I wish every one of them had your magic." The last word was heard as the door closed and they both just stood there for a minute, processing what the man had said.

Finally, Deeks cleared his throat and took Kensi's hand, squeezing slightly. There was a sparkle in her eyes as they entered The Sky Room, the decor taking them back to another time.

"Marty and Kensi?" The hostess stood in front of them, smiling. Deeks gave Kensi a sideways look as she nodded. "Right this way."

They were led to a corner table next to the windows, allowing the couple a beautiful view of the harbor as the sun set. "Wow, this is gorgeous." Kensi watched the different colors of the sky and the water changing colors as the sun went down while Deeks pulled her chair out for her. "Yes it is."

Kensi blushed, knowing he wasn't talking about the view. This was different tonight. Their first date had been fun, filled with screaming and beer and watching roller derby. Sure, there had been the star gazing afterwards, but by that time they were a little more comfortable with each other.

It was weird… they had already been through so much together, been thrown into circumstances normal people would never dream of, but each time they came out together, their bond getting stronger. She trusted Deeks like she had never trusted anyone. A few days ago, that would have scared the shit out of her, but now… opening up to him had been one of the smartest decisions she's made in a long time.

Deeks could see the wheels turning in her head and had a fairly good idea of what she was thinking. Tonight was about them, being on the same page, in the same book, and moving forward. They both had a rough week, wrought with pain, second guessing and blame. But today was the a chance to start again. To remember what had happened but not to dwell on it. Before Deeks could say anything else, their waiter appeared.

"Good evening." The waiter smiled at them and rattled off the specials. Deeks ordered them both a glass of wine and looked to Kensi for her choice of appetizer who was already scanning the menu. Deeks was wondering how much self control it took to keep a straight face when his beautiful date ordered three. That man deserves a huge tip just for that.

Conversation was light as they decided on dinner and waited for their drinks. After the drinks arrived and dinner had been ordered, the table was filled with mouthwatering aromas, the only thing that was said was 'mmmm this is good.'

They watched as the sun went down on the horizon, appreciating the vibrant oranges and yellows and reds that lit up the sky as the sun said goodnight and the moon took over the vigilant watch, casting its soft glow.

The main course came and went, and Deeks sat back dramatically, patting his stomach.

"I'm not going to eat for a week."

Kensi just raised her eyebrows at him, smirking as she took a sip of wine and set the glass down.

"And here I was thinking about dessert."

A small band had arrived earlier and Deeks had been toying with the idea of getting Kensi to dance with him. Inspiration hit, and he excused himself to the bathroom.

Kensi looked out the window, watching the harbor and the stars as they danced on the water. It had been a perfect evening so far. The food and wine had been perfect, and her date even more so. They had talked and flirted and there had been no mention of her previous actions, which she was both thankful and apprehensive about.

She had never been good at communication, preferring to either skate around answers or outright ignore the questions. But with Deeks… it was simple. And it felt right. Which was new territory for her. But so far, everything was working out.

Kensi was so lost in thought that she didn't see Deeks until he sat back down, taking a drink of his wine and smiled at her. She almost missed the twinkle in his eyes, but before she could comment on it, another voice interrupted.

"Good evening ladies and gentlemen. I hope everyone is having a wonderful dinner and enjoying this beautiful view. The moon is rising, the clouds are clearing, and it couldn't be a more perfect evening for showing a special someone just what they mean to you."

Deeks stood up at that and put his hand out to Kensi, silently asking her to dance with him. She had a question in her eyes, but instead of saying anything, she placed her hand in his and let him lead her to the dance floor. Deeks didn't miss the trust she placed in him by that action. She hadn't said anything, knew that she wanted to, but had simply given herself to him.

As soon as Deeks put one arm around Kensi and held her other hand to his chest, the most amazing rendition of Etta James' song At Last began serenading them. The two of them swayed together, eyes locked, letting the lyrics speak for each other.

At last my love has come along

My lonely days are over and life is like a song, oh yeah

Kensi finally laid her head on his shoulder, the feeling of love and contentment washing over her. They hadn't spoken words, but then again, they didn't need to. The words would come at some point, of course, but right now it was enough just knowing.

You smiled, you smiled oh and then the spell was cast

And here we are in Heaven

For you are mine at last

The last chord played, the simple melody and lyrics still hanging between them Kensi pulled back and looked at him, smiling. They reluctantly pulled apart, Deeks keeping her hand in his as he made their way back to the table.

"You're a pretty good dancer, Deeks."

"I mean… I was voted best dancer at my junior and senior prom."

Kensi narrowed her eyes a little. "You went to prom?" she said incredulously.

"Well. No. But if I had, I would have definitely been given that title." Deeks winked at her, making Kensi shake her head.

"Let me guess. You were on your way, looking dashing in your tux."

"Of course."

"Shh. Anyway, while making your way there, you noticed Godzilla and Mothra fighting. Godzilla was losing and Mothra was threatening the coast so you turned around, knowing you had time to defeat the monster and still have time for at least one dance with the prom queen. But, just your luck, Mothra brought her friends and they were having their own party. You called in backup knowing both you and Godzilla were out numbered, and since Iron Man owed you one, he came in for support . Thanks to you two, LA was safe once again - of course - but you ended up with your tux ruined and the clock had already struck midnight."

Deeks mulled it over for a minute before shrugging. "Close enough." She saw something flash in his eyes, but not like what she had seen before. Before their dance… it had been more anticipation. This held pain. And if she hadn't been watching, she would have missed it. "Godzilla was already too injured to actually fight and Iron Man just helped me clean up. He showed up after I had taken care of everything else."

Kensi let him play it off… for now. She knew that Deeks had his own secrets, and would in time tell her. It wasn't something she was going to push.

When their waiter came back and the couple declined coffee and dessert, he gave them a wide smile.

"Well then, I hope you two have a beautiful evening."

Deeks looked confused as he glanced at Kensi.

"Isn't there… I mean, don't we need to pay?"

The waiter turned and smiled again. "No sir, the check has already been taken care of."

"By whom?" Kensi was just as confused as Deeks.

"I'm sorry, I can't tell you." Kensi pursed her mouth together, knowing who it was.

"Well, thank you so much for an amazing evening. The food and the service were beyond fantastic."

"I am happy to hear you enjoyed it, and I hope to see you two again." He smiled and turned, walking back to the kitchen.

Deeks, still taken aback, left a generous tip and stood up, taking Kensi's hand again. As they neared the front, the hostess went and pushed the elevator button for them.

"I hope you all have a wonderful evening," she said, smiling at them.

"You too. Thank you so much, it was wonderful." The elevator dinged, but it wasn't George who was the attendant. Instead, a younger man stood in his place greeting them.

"Where's George?" Deeks smiled at the younger man, hoping his words weren't rude.

"Oh, he had to get home. He only does this a couple of times a week, but he loves it and won't give it up, no matter how much his wife nags at him." The man smiled, and both Kensi and Deeks chuckled.

When they reached the bottom, the bid their goodbyes to the Scott (who happened to be George's grandson) and walked outside.

Deeks turned Kensi so he could wrap both of his arms around her, drawing her close.

"So. What now?" Kensi sighed, happy to hear that he wasn't ready for the night to end, either.

"Did you drive?" Deeks nodded, remembering he needed to hand over his ticket to the valet.



Deeks pulled back, reaching into his pocket for the ticket. "Here, give me yours and I'll have them get both cars."

Kensi suddenly looked guilty. "My uh, car… yeah, it's not here."

"What do you mean it's not here?"

"ItextedCallenandhadhimpickitup," she softly mumbled as her gaze lowered. Deeks let out a soft chuckle in response.

"Princess, I only heard the first word of that." He pulled back a little, bringing his hand up under her chin and making her look at him.

"I may have had Callen pick it up for me."

"When the hell did you manage to tell him?" He was pleasantly surprised, as this actually eliminated a fake car trouble problem to be alone with her a little longer. Although his luck she would have been able to figure out there wasn't any actual car trouble, and he would have ended up looking like an idiot.

"When you went to the bathroom." Deeks pulled her closer again. "So, I guess this means Bad Ass Blye is at my mercy for a ride home."

"If it's not too much trouble."

"Well, it is an inconvenience, way out of my way-"

"It's two miles away."

"Two miles is a lot." Deeks was smirking at her as his car pulled up. "Good thing I get good gas mileage." He opened the door for her and let her slide in before going around to the drivers side.

He put on some soft music on their way, taking her hand again. He couldn't seem to not touch her. It was confusing and freeing and something he never wanted to get rid of.

"You know, my dad told me once that he and my mother danced to that song when they got married." Deeks glanced over, squeezing her hand in response. He didn't have a lot of back history on her parents, but he knew they had divorced when Kensi was younger and she had lived with her dad until he had died.

"He would hum it all the time, even after they…" Kensi broke off, turning to look out the window for a minute. Once she regained her composure, she looked at Deeks once again. "My mom was tired of him leaving all the time. She wanted him home. One day, she just snapped. She gave him an ultimatum - it was her or the military. He begged her not to make him choose, and that was all the answer she needed. She put the divorce papers on the table, packed me and our stuff in the car and took off. We made it as far as the next city, and when she stopped at the gas station, I took off. I haven't seen or spoken with her since. When I made it home, my dad called her and made sure she knew that I was okay."

Deeks glanced from her to the road, unsure what to say to this, but was saved when Kensi kept talking. "I think they always loved each other, they just didn't know how to make it work. For them love wasn't enough."

Deeks took a minute to gather his thoughts before speaking.

"Love may not always be enough, but when two people want to be together, who won't give up on each other, sometimes all you need is love. Nothing else matters. Yes, there's always more to a relationship to make it work, but when worse comes to worst, love is what gets you through, it's what makes your stay and fight."

They had stopped at a light, and Deeks was looking into Kensi's eyes. He was leaning forward, wanting nothing more than to kiss her when the car behind him honked, causing them both to jump and start laughing. Deeks kept driving, finally pulling up to Kensi's house.

"Well Princess, I got you home safe and sound." He put the car in park, hopped out and ran around to her side to open her door for her.

When they got to her door, Deeks took the opportunity and grabbed Kensi's face, bringing his lips to hers. Surprised by the sudden contact, she let out a sigh of approval, wrapping her arms around his neck and pulled him closer.

The kiss lasted what seemed like forever but still not long enough. Before either of them were ready, they were pulling apart and Deeks put his forehead to hers.

"So um… about dessert…." Deeks laughed at her words, but let her pull her keys out so she could open the door.

"I could go for some dessert." Kensi took his hand, leading him into her apartment. This was definitely the best second date ever.

AN - I hope you guys are still with us on the story. Like CoastalReader said, life in general became incredibly busy for a while. I am nervous about posting this because it's been so long, but I'm excited, too. I hope you all enjoyed it. Please leave a review and let us know that you're still here and want us to keep going. They mean the world! Hopefully it won't be months before the next chapter.

One last thing - justareader07 - you, my friend, are amazing. Thank you for harassing me all the time to get me to finish this chapter. Keep it up!