I apologize in advance for the lengthy A/N.

First off, I am so amazed at your reception to Home. I never anticipated such positive reactions! You guys are awesome.

So this story was written back in August around the time I watched the Season 5 box set. I actually thought I had more work to do on this so I've ignored it since the summer but when I opened the file tonight, I was pleasantly surprised to notice that all I had to do was tweak a few things. It takes place after Deep Trouble Part 2, but at the time, it obviously hadn't aired so there aren't really any specifics mentioned from Part 2 (so there is no mention of the Kensi-Talia fight, nor them apparently becoming friends). References various episodes from Season 5 and the deleted scene from Spoils of War.

I debated posting this at all since we're 5 months past the Season 6 premiere but I'm hoping that by publishing this, it will kick start motivation and ideas for a sequel or second chapter based on Season 6 events. Enjoy!

Disclaimer – I own nothing; Shane Brennan and the good people at CBS do.

Kensi, in a pair of yoga pants and "her" LAPD t-shirt, sits on her couch, tucking her feet underneath her, physically and mentally exhausted from a long few days at work. They had finally found the sub that Callen and Sam were trapped on and were able to rescue them. She is wiped and just wants to sleep for days. As they left the boatshed, Deeks had asked if she wanted to grab dinner, but she waved him off saying she just wanted some time alone. She has had a lot on her mind the past few weeks, mostly about him, and she didn't think she could yet handle the conversation that was inevitable. And truth be told, she could hear the slight hesitation in his invitation; as though he wasn't even sure he wanted to have one of their partner nights either, so she figured she'd do them both a favor and decline. She knows that they need to talk, but not tonight. Not before she has things straightened out in her head.

The TV is on, the sounds of some Top Model rerun filling her living room, but she isn't paying attention to it. Her leftover pizza and much needed beer are sitting untouched on her coffee table. As hungry as she is, she just can't stop replaying pieces of the last year in her mind - pieces of their "thing". She isn't even sure where their thing stands anymore and that's the worst part. After dancing around it for years, and finally realizing that she wants it, wants him, he's pulled away and she can't stop herself from trying to figure out how they got where they are when things had seemed so promising last fall.

God, she is so confused. Damn him for doing this to her, for completely flipping her heart around and around. It's not entirely his fault of course, and she knows that, but her heart had been perfectly protected before he slowly started knocking down her walls four years ago. She still hasn't figured out how he did it; how he worked his way so intricately into her life that she can hardly remember what her life was like before him and she doesn't want to even begin to imagine what her future would be like without him.

So, she stares off into space and resigns to letting her mind wander, hoping beyond hope that she'll come out of it with a plan for how she is supposed be in love with a Deeks who doesn't seem to know what he wants anymore.

"How's that for communication?"

If she's being honest with herself, that kiss was the best thing Deeks could have said or done that day. She had been jealous of Monica, there was no doubt about that, but she had been so furious that he called her out that she acted as if she had no idea what he was talking about and resorted to yelling at him about having poor communication skills. When his lips crashed into hers, cutting off the rest of her rant, Kensi had been speechless. Instead of wanting to run, she had felt her heart soar with the emotion he poured into the kiss. She hadn't realized just how badly she wanted him until that moment. But it had been so unexpected that she couldn't find the words or actions to respond the way she should have.

So, she did exactly what she hadn't wanted to do, she went into agent-mode, and she left.

And then she almost lost him.

"I just kept thinking about your smile, your laugh. Everything. It's the only thing that got me through."

God, how she wishes Callen and Sam hadn't walked into the bullpen at that moment. There was so much she had wanted to say to Deeks then. She had wanted to apologize for having to leave him in that auto body shop, for not being there in the hospital, and most of all, she had wanted to promise to help him deal with the aftermath of his time at the hands of Sidorov and his goons.

But after drinks with the team that night, Deeks had gone home and shut everyone out; shut her out. She called him every day, tried to stop by, and had even left one of his treasured cronuts outside his door. He had ignored all of it. And it had hurt. It had hurt more than she could have imagined. She started simply going through the motions of her daily life, finding that it became impossible to even feign happiness while her partner and best friend was suffering in solitude.

"It's a love story"

When he finally let her in - accepting a night of Korean take-out, beer, and a movie (and a stale cronut) – Kensi had felt hope for the first time in months. And when he made himself comfortable, sinking into the back of the couch and drifting off to sleep (something she knew he hadn't been doing much of), she couldn't help but stare at him and ready herself to protect him from the nightmares she was sure he battled every time he closed his eyes.

His mumblings of a "love story" would have terrified her years ago and frankly, she was surprised when all she felt was a tugging at her heart that could only be described as longing. A longing for a love that she'd spent the last nine years convinced she would never have. A longing for a love that she was finally realizing was right in front of her.

Kensi didn't get much sleep that night, but he did, and that's all that mattered.

"Damn it, Deeks, you asked me out on a date without actually asking me out on a date"
"I don't want to be here with you right now. I want to be at my place right now. With you."

She wasn't sure how they'd ended up at that fancy restaurant though it hadn't taken her long to figure out why he had brought her there under the guise of grabbing "tacos or something"? Considering they had all but ignored the kiss that happened all those months ago, Kensi hadn't been expecting any of this. And just like with that kiss, his interruption of her continued rants about his communication had left her speechless. They are rarely so straightforward with each other about their thing and it had taken her a minute to comprehend what he had said.

As she sat across the table from Deeks, knowing she had been unable to hide the look of shock on her face, Kensi studied him. His expression had been a mix of hope, relief, love, and a little fear. In that moment, she remembers hating that he looked like he was waiting for her to shut down and run away again.

So she had done the only thing she could think of, realizing that sometimes actions actually do speak louder than words. She left, again. But as she had gotten up from the table, she didn't allow her gaze to waver from his. As she walked out without another glance in his direction, her heart had been pounding, hoping that he had seen her unspoken acceptance of his offer in her eyes.

The butterflies in her stomach had gone into overdrive as she watched him emerge from the restaurant and make his way toward her.

She didn't want to run anymore, at least not without him by her side.

"What are you doing to me Deeks?"
"Falling in love with you…

The drive to his apartment had been quiet, both of them seemingly afraid to disrupt the momentum that stemmed from his confession back at the restaurant. As they exited the car and walked toward his door, Deeks had hesitantly reached for her hand, intertwining his fingers with hers and giving her hand a squeeze. He had paused outside the door and she had been afraid that he was second guessing what was inevitably going to happen once they were inside. Kensi risked a glance at him then and realized he was giving her an out; a chance to call this off. But she was so tired of playing their game and instead, gave an imperceptible nod as he opened the door. Once inside, she had continued her silent movements and headed straight for his bedroom before she could second guess herself.

As Deeks had hovered over her on the bed, she had started to crack. Her mind had started reeling with thoughts of how this would change them, change their partnership. The conviction and desire in his voice when he had said that he didn't care what might happen gave her the strength that she needed.

As she leaned up to kiss him, something she had wanted to do so many times in these last few months, he breathed his second unexpected confession of the night into the air between them. It was in that moment that she just knew. It had hit her like a ton of bricks; she was falling in love with him too.

"You have to promise me something too though"
"Be patient with me?"

That night had been one of the single best nights of her life. The day that followed had basically been one huge mess. It was her fault really; she had grossly overreacted to his hesitation at the motel that morning. God, why had she punched him? She hated herself the second it happened but she couldn't face him then. She was wound so tight and all she had been able to focus on was the realization that her biggest fear was coming true – they couldn't have the best of both worlds; couldn't have an effective partnership with their emotions so invested in their personal relationship.

Seeing Deeks later in the shooting range, she had tried to explain why they weren't going to work; that their frozen lake was just too vast; the ice too thin. She saw the heartbroken, reluctant understanding in his eyes and knew the same emotions were mirrored in her own expression.

As persistent as ever, Deeks hadn't been ready to give up on them yet and she had allowed it to give her hope. With the case winding down, she had promised him that they would make it work, that they would talk about it. He had promised to be patient with her.

What had transpired later that night while she was waiting for him in the bullpen would prove to be the ultimate test in patience. Sitting on the military transport, somewhere over the Pacific, she couldn't help but hope that he would wait for her. She knew that it wasn't fair to want that from him, considering she hadn't known how long she would be gone, but in her heart, she had known that he would.

"I got you. We're going home."

Five months. Kensi had spent five months in country, on what she now knows was a bogus mission. Five months away from her home, her team, and her Deeks, all to save the last man she had let into her heart; the one responsible for the last nine years of emptiness and first-dates only. Despite all that, she had needed answers and it had almost cost her her life. She eventually realized that it had cost Deeks something too, though she still isn't sure what exactly happened that led to her rescue.

All she knew was that when she saw him after Jack walked away, it made her heart ache. She had dreamed of their reunion and that was far from how she'd been picturing it happening. She felt so broken; she hadn't even been able to look him in the eye. But still, she hadn't been able to stop herself from collapsing into him and breaking down, giving him just a tiny glimpse into how much she was hurting and knowing that he needed her as much as she needed him in that moment.

She had known things weren't going to be easy when they got back to LA, but she had faith because he was her home, her safe place.

"So, about our thing…"
"Yeah. I don't know what to do with that…"

Weeks passed and they had quickly found their stride as partners again. Their thing had been on hold; both of them too haunted by what had happened in Afghanistan to want to talk about matters of the heart. Until Agent Angelo showed up. That morning, there had seemed to be a vague agreement that they were finally ready to talk and Kensi had felt optimistic for the first time since she had to leave for Afghanistan. What she hadn't counted on was how rattled Deeks would be by Angelo and his ramblings about three hearts and raccoons.

Getting ready to leave the mission that night, she had still wanted to talk, but Deeks had effectively ended the conversation before it even got started. She hadn't been able to hide the look of sadness in her eyes and she saw the confusion and pain in his eyes when he had returned her father's knife. Seeing an opportunity, she silently took the box from its perch on top of some lockers, placed it on his desk, and cut the tape along the top with her knife, leaving it open in front of him. She had offered him a slight smile then, and walked away without looking back.

Once in her car, she had let herself cry – something Kensi Blye rarely does. She cried for her, cried for him, and cried for them. She cried because she was finally ready – so ready – to jump but now she had no one to jump with. She knew it wasn't over; she wasn't convinced they would ever be over. He was it for her, she knew that now; and she would wait for him.

"You're beautiful!"

Damn DEA agent. Ultimately, meeting Talia is what started her downward spiral to tonight's festivities of sitting at home, alone, wallowing in self-pity wondering where her happily ever after was. The last thing Kensi had expected to deal with this past week was a woman who clearly had eyes for her partner. A woman who obviously felt comfortable enough to hug him in greeting even though they'd only worked one case together.

Deep down, she knew that nothing had happened and that Deeks' devotion to her was steadfast. But a jealous Kensi is an irrational Kensi and she couldn't just let it go. So when she stated the obvious, that Talia was beautiful, she hadn't been ready for Deeks' immediate and unfaltering retort, 'you're beautiful!' She froze for a second before slugging him in the shoulder (again) when all she had really wanted to do was wrap her arms around his waist and bury herself in his chest.

Her antics in the boatshed had just been to remind Deeks that she was what he had waiting for him once he got his head on straight. She only wished he was ready to take that step, again but for good this time. The stress over the past week had pushed her to her breaking point and while she typically leaned on him at times like this, she wasn't sure how to do that when he was ultimately the reason her heart was hurting so much.

Coming out of her trance, Kensi realizes she's been sitting there for over two hours. She grabs a piece of her now cold pizza and hurries to eat a couple of pieces so that she can go curl up in bed, wishing Deeks was there with her. Despite everything that had happened in the past year, one thing remained clear to her - he was what she wanted. He was what she needed.