A/N – This is a follow-up to A Thing In Pieces – if you haven't read it, it might give you an idea where this is coming from. This story will be in (at least) two parts and this first part references various scenes from first half of Season 6 up to and including 'Humbug'. I hope you enjoy it!

Disclaimer – I still own nothing

She's still drifting in and out of sleep when she feels the scruffy chin of her partner - her boyfriend - peppering kisses on her shoulder. Keeping her eyes closed, she can't help but smile.

"I thought you were going to let me sleep."

"Sorry," he mumbles against her skin, "I couldn't help it," trailing kisses up her neck, "And I take that back, I'm not sorry."

Kensi lets out a quiet chuckle as she opens her eyes and sees Deeks kneeling on the floor beside the bed, his face only inches from hers. He leans over to place a firm kiss on her lips before standing up and she notices he's dressed in his snowboard gear.

"Are you heading out now?"

"Yep, you sure you don't want to come? It's our last day here."

"Oh, I'm sure. I don't think I'll be able to move for days. I'm so sore from snowboarding all week."

Deeks smirks down at her and she knows instantly that she's going to regret that statement.

"I don't think the snowboarding is the only reason you're sore, Fern. We have been rather…busy."

Hiding her face in the pillow, she lets out a long groan. When she looks back at Deeks, he's still grinning at her like the Cheshire Cat.

"You know, you may be right. Maybe I need to take a break from our other activities too," she teases as Deeks sends a slight glare in her direction.

"Yeah, no, that sounds like a terrible idea."

She laughs as she starts making herself more comfortable and wrapping the comforter around her shoulders, wanting at least another hour of sleep. She looks up at him expectedly and he doesn't waste a second leaning down to press a lingering kiss to her lips.

"Go. I really do need the rest and you can get a few runs in before we need to head back to LA."

With one last peck to her forehead, he heads out of the bedroom and Monty trots in when he opens the door. Deeks stops in the doorway and turns back one last time, laughing quietly to himself at the fact that Monty has curled up at Kensi's feet and they both look like they're already half asleep.

"Don't stay there too long, there's coffee and pancakes in the kitchen with your name on them."

"Mmm," the blankets muffling her voice, "you're the best."

Even though she isn't looking at him, she can just imagine the cocky grin plastered to his face. A few second later, the front door clicks shut and she knows he's gone.

An hour later, Kensi is curled up on the couch, wrapped in a blanket and enjoying the warmth of the fire she started after breakfast. She didn't end up staying in bed for very long after Deeks left, her growling stomach and the promise of those pancakes drawing her out of her cocoon of blankets sooner than she'd planned. Monty, who has been following her around all morning, is snoozing next to her as she gently strokes his head.

She can't help but smile at the serenity of this moment and really, of this whole week. She can't remember the last time she's felt so happy. Gazing contentedly at the flames dancing in the fireplace and glancing down at her sleeping companion, Kensi's mind starts drifting as she recalls various moments the two of them have shared that ultimately led them here.

A few months ago, everything about them was in a state of complete chaos and she had hated being alone with her thoughts of their "thing". But now, she welcomes these memories, reveling in how satisfying it is to no longer be so confused about where things stand with them.

Instead of uncertainty, she lets herself see these memories as a promise of a future.

That day she showed up at Deeks' place to talk about their relationship had been both emotionally draining and freeing. It allowed them to get to a place where they were moving in the same direction, together. The days and weeks that followed had been exactly what they needed as they fell into a relaxed routine with each other. They sparred, they joked, they picked on each other, but underneath it all, there had developed a new level of comfort and emotional intimacy between them.

"I mean as a shipmate. Me, you, split some bills, save some money, maybe get a cooler place."

Kensi had not been expecting those words to come out of his mouth as they walked along the water to investigate Hetty's yacht. In the months following their talk, they hadn't once broached the idea of moving their relationship forward again and there he was, suddenly throwing out a seemingly-serious proposition of them living together.

Sure, they had been spending a lot of time together and Kensi felt like they were closer than they ever had been, but living together? Her mind had started reeling and she was caught so off guard by the comment that her instinctual reaction had been to make jokes.

So she stuck to their safe zone of teasing and he played along, like she hoped he would. But she sensed that he had been testing the waters a bit and that gave her a tiny sliver of hope. Hope that maybe Deeks wasn't feeling so hesitant of them anymore and hope that maybe this thing of theirs would sort itself out sooner rather than later.

"Partners don't keep secrets."

Partners. Damn that word. They always used it when no other word seemed quite right because when it came down to it that was what they were.

She can see now, that it hadn't been the right time to be changing the way they described their relationship, but in that moment in the boatshed, after her painfully unpleasant "chat" with the DOJ woman, Kensi had huffed sadly at Deeks' definition of them. Of course they were partners but they were also more than that, and had been working toward being even more than more than that and she wanted that validation.

She had always hated to let anyone see her vulnerable and she especially hated to let anyone see her cry but when Deeks reached out for her, she had found herself desperate for the comfort that his presence provided.

As she stood there, secure in his embrace, while he muttered words of understanding and support, she recognized that he knew probably better than anyone how detrimental it could be to keep things to herself and to try and pretend things were okay. She realized that maybe it was time to stop keeping so many secrets.

"And just like that, the moment is way gone."
"That's okay, I got more moments."

Kensi had never felt so conflicted about Deeks breaking through the seriousness of a situation with a joke. She saw it for what he meant it to be though, a chance for her to regain some composure – he knew that she preferred to be in control of her emotions and looking back, she is grateful that they didn't push to prolong the conversation.

It was a talk they needed to have and one that Kensi found herself actually wanting to have with him but that had been neither the time nor the place. And even without his confirmation, she knew that he would always be there if and when she needed him.

"Our Kickass Kensalina has a softer, lacy, lady side that no one knows about but me. And I love it."

Kensi was confident that had they not been standing in the Mission, she probably would have given in to her sudden desire to kiss him after that declaration. She may have told him that he sounded creepy after he had rattled off a rather lengthy list of things he knew about her, but in reality, she loved that he knew things about her that even she forgot about. And she loved that he loved that too.

She thinks it was that moment that was a turning point for her. She wanted him to know things about her that no one else was privy to and she wanted to know things about him and she wanted them to learn those things together.

She believed that they weren't quite ready to jump over that invisible line of their relationship yet, but she had known that they were getting closer. And she loved it.

"…I'm bringing Monty and we talked about it and we think you should come."

Her heart had skipped a beat when he first brought up his plans to go to Mammoth over Christmas. Though he hadn't asked her immediately, she sensed that he had brought it up, seemingly out of the blue, for a reason. She laughed internally as he stumbled over his invitation for her to join him (and Monty).

It wasn't the first time he had suggested they go away together for their little holiday break but unlike the previous time, she could tell that Deeks had been nervous. She hadn't believed the nerves to be because he was afraid she wouldn't want to go, but rather, she sensed the nervous anticipation behind his request. She decided almost immediately that he did not intend for the trip to be just "partners" vacationing together.

After she had somewhat shyly agreed to accompany her two favorite boys on this little trip, she had later found herself panicking a bit. Were they actually ready to take that step? As per their M.O, no words to confirm (nor deny) those thoughts had actually been spoken between them and that had frustrated Kensi more than anything. If they were going to do this, they needed to lay it all out there; leave no doubts.

Later, she had made up her mind that if Deeks wasn't going to bring it up, she would. She wanted, no, needed to know before they packed up his truck and headed out on the road for a 5 hour drive. She just had to find the right time.

"I want to be bold, Deeks. But I want to be bold with you."
"Chips on the table?"
"All in."

She had done it. And it had paid off in spades.

When Michelle had invited the team to go ice-skating that afternoon, Kensi still hadn't known when she was going to work up the nerve to talk to Deeks. She had spent the entire night prior to that day thinking about what she wanted to say and how she would make it clear what she wanted - no more metaphors, no more ambiguity.

As he had held her hand and led her around the ice rink, she had been overcome with the need to talk to him right then. She felt as though she would burst if she didn't say what had been on her mind all night and all day. When he steered her to the wall and had taken off skating, she had felt her courage wavering.

Then, as quickly as he had skated away, he was back. He had stood there and stared at her expectantly and those damn butterflies in her heart had threatened to keep her from saying anything at all. She had seen realization dawn on his face that whatever she was about to say was serious and after one last deep breath, she went for it.

When she had nervously reached for his hand and laced their fingers together, she was physically urging him to understand what she wanted. He had seemed a bit dazed and at first, his expression gave nothing away but as soon as he uttered, "So no more games then?" Kensi had felt her heart release the tension that had been building up.

And in the midst of promises of 'tonight, tomorrow, and the day after,' he had cut her off with a firm, eager, and slightly awkward kiss. It had been as though he couldn't stand to not be kissing her anymore, and it was Kensi's turn to be stunned. As Deeks pulled back slightly, she hadn't been able to stop the small gasp that escaped her lips and she had immediately missed his lips on hers. With goofy grins plastered to both of their faces and as if he had read her mind, he leaned in toward her again and she had readily met him halfway.

He had pulled back one last time, with her face still cradled in his hands, and she had seen the amazement and adoration in his eyes, a look that she knew mirrored hers. They hadn't spoken any more words then, it hadn't been necessary. They were all in and in that moment, nothing else needed to be said.

Kensi is broken out of her daydream when Monty's head snaps up at the sound of the door to the cabin being unlocked. The door clicks open and a blast of cold air accompanies Deeks inside. Monty is at his feet in an instant and Deeks reaches down to scratch his head.

"Hey buddy. Where's mommy? You keeping her company?"

She makes no effort to move from her warm sanctuary on the couch and looks at him over the top of the cushions.

"Mommy is right here," she replies with a roll of her eyes, though the soft smile on her face betrays the annoyance she was pretending to convey, "and yes, he is."

Deeks rids himself of his snow-covered gear and makes his way over to the couch, leaning over to press an eager kiss to his girlfriend's lips.

"Hi," he breathes out into the air between them as he breaks off the kiss, "I thought you would still be in bed."

"Mmm," she hums as she steals one more peck, "and I thought you weren't coming back until lunch time."

He lifts up her feet as he plops down onto the couch and rests them in his lap. Gently working his thumbs into the soles of her feet, his eyes meet hers and the smile he sends her gives her butterflies.

"Yeah, that was the plan. Then I decided I wanted to spend the rest of our last day here with you, before we have to go back to ridding the world of bad guys. No one to interrupt us, no frantic phone calls from work, just Kensi and Deeks, Deeks and Kensi."

"And Monty," Kensi chuckles as she pulls her feet from his lap and switches her position on the couch so that she's leaning against his side, arms wrapped around his middle.

"Yeah, and Monty."

Deeks shifts slightly and tucks her head to his chest as he drapes an arm around her waist. As he places a kiss on her forehead and nuzzles his nose in her hair, Kensi lets out a contented sigh.

"This is a nice little set-up you have yourself here," nodding his head toward the roaring fire, "what else have you been up to while I was gone?"

"Eh, not much. I got up and had my breakfast – thank you, by the way," she says with a small squeeze of her arms, "otherwise I've just been sitting here, thinking a little."

"Thinking about how awesome I am?"

"You wish," Kensi scoffs but then her expression softens, "Thinking about us, actually. About how I never imagined we'd be here after the year we had. About how I've never been happier to be wrong."

Deeks smiles as he links his hands together around her midsection and pulls her even closer. Gazing into the fire, he rests his head against hers as they sit in a comfortable silence. It's Kensi who interrupts the quiet a few minutes later.

"Things will be okay when we get home, right? I mean, last time we…" she takes a deep breath to rein in the nerves rushing at her, "…shit kind of hit the fan."

Deeks pulls back and turns her chin so that her eyes are focused on his.

"Kens, hey, things will be great. Better than great. This isn't like last time," his gaze is steady, determination blazing through those cornflower blue eyes that she loves, "'All in' remember? No more games, we're being bold together."

She is surprisingly reassured by the confidence in his words and gives him a warm smile and a silent nod in response before he continues.

"And if things are ever less than great, we'll figure it out."

Kensi moves her head back to his chest and snuggles into his strong embrace, content to stay here until it's time for them to pack up and head home. She knows they are bound to hit some bumps in road - it's practically inevitable given their line of work and the fact that they will have to juggle their personal relationship with their professional partnership. Not to mention that despite a four and a half year friendship, navigating the romance and intimacy that comes with being 'all in' is very different and new for both of them.

Pressing a long kiss to the space above his heart, her response is barely a whisper but she's sure he hears it.

"We always do."