A/N: I rarely put my head canons into fiction format, but wasn't able to stop myself this time. Hopefully by the end of this season we'll actually have some backstory on Marty Deeks, so I had to write this before everything in my head is proved to be false. This is purely speculation and in no way is going to actually happen on the show. Please take note of dates, as I like to skip around a bit. There is some Deeks/Kensi in this story, but the main focus is on everyone's favorite detective. Thanks to aprylynn and closetdensishipper for yelling at me.

As usual, I own nothing related to NCIS Los Angeles or CBS or anything cool, really. I do own my car, but it's pretty old and I'd actually like to get a new one.

[sub rosa: latin, meaning under the rose; an emblem of secrecy]

November 8, 2006

He stepped into the small, confined space and pulled a pack of wet wipes out of his suit pocket. It wasn't like he was a germophobe, but really - pay phones were disgusting. Wiping down the receiver and numbers, he tossed the wipe on top of the phone and punched in a phone number that he now had memorized. This would make the third week in a row that he had dialed it, always from a different disgusting payphone. Making a face, he cradled the ear piece in between his shoulder and ear and waited for the usual monotone voice to answer.

"Los Angeles Police Department Operator, how may I direct your call?"

"Detective Roger Bates, please," he answered.

"One moment." He fiddled with the cord while he waited, then made a a gagging noise when he realized he didn't wipe it down before touching it.

The connection opened up and a cranky voice sounded through the phone. "Bates."

"I'd like to report some suspicious activities," he said, the same as always.

A muffled scratch rattled in his ear as Bates disappeared for a moment. He tapped his foot impatiently and turned his body further inward towards the phone. There were more muffled scratches, then Bates returned. "What is it this time, kid?"

He rolled his eyes at the kid comment, seeing as how he barely even got to act like a kid when he actually was one. "Blue building on North Highland. Next Tuesday, possible drop off for weapons and drugs from Mexico."

"You got an address?"

"You want me to do all of the work for you?"

Bates bristled. "What kind of drugs?"

He ran a hand through his unkempt hair. "Marijuana. Focus on the weapons."

Bates chuckled. "Sounds like you are trying to do my job."

"Touché." He looked around nervously, suddenly feeling as if he was being watched. "Anyway. Nice chat. Gotta go."

"Good talk. See you in a few minutes."

"What?" He froze, gripping the phone tighter. Groaning, he turned around in the phone booth and was met with glares from two uniformed LAPD officers. "Well, shit."

Marty Deeks didn't intimidate easily. Most of his days were spent with people that were on the wrong side of the law, by choice. He could have decided to be a prosecutor instead of a public defender, but he thought his calling in law was to help people that others might consider to be a lost cause. Not all of his clients wanted to help themselves unfortunately, but he tried to defend even the worst of criminals to the best of his abilities.

Despite his strong constitution, Detective Bates' stare was making him feel a little hairy. The interrogation room at LAPD Headquarters wasn't helping matters, either. It had been a long time since he'd been brought in for questioning here. Past memories of these types of rooms weren't very happy.

Marty was really trying not to look squirrelly, but that damn Bates was giving him the silent treatment. Should he put his hands on the table, or his now empty pockets? That was insulting to him, by the way, being patted down like a criminal. At least he had his concealed carry permit for his ankle-holstered Glock in his wallet. That could have been ugly.

He finally broke the uncomfortable silence. "Why am I here, again?"

Bates closed the small file in front of him. "For questioning."

"Yeah, that's what I thought, but you aren't actually asking me any questions. Do you have telepathic interrogation powers? If so, that's awesome, just let me know when you're done."

The smallest smile crossed Bates' face before he replaced it with a stern expression. "You're a bit of a smartass."

Marty shrugged. "Better than being a dumbass."

Bates sighed. "Enough of the banter."

"But banter is my middle name."

"Okay, I'm finally starting to believe you actually are a public defender," Bates said, annoyed. "At first I didn't believe my eyes, because you look like a USC beach bum. But you talk out of your ass like a lawyer, so I guess you're legit."

Marty narrowed his eyes briefly but let the insult slide off of his back. He knew he was getting under the detective's skin, which was his intention all along. "I was thinking of growing a beard actually, you think that might help-"

"Where are you getting your information about the shipments from Mexico?" Bates interrupted.

"See, you could have just started with that. But instead you wanted to try some voodoo mind trick shit to try to intimidate me." Marty crossed his hands on the table in front of him.

"Answer the question."

"I have no idea what you're talking about," he answered coolly.

"You know exactly what I'm talking about."

"Do I?" Very subtly, he glanced up at the cameras mounted in the corners of the room, and the mirrored glass behind Detective Bates. "You might as well be speaking Portuguese right now."

Bates leaned back in his metal chair and stared Marty down again, tapping a single finger on the wooden table between them. The two had a mental standoff for a few minutes until the detective finally relented. "Fine. Let's take a walk."

Marty nearly ended up with a face full of hot coffee as Bates sputtered in disbelief. "Your client."

"Yes, sir." Marty took a sip of his own coffee, even though it tasted like shit. He must have gotten spoiled from his usual morning cappuccino, because the day old swill from the Gang and Narcotics Division coffeemaker tasted more like human butthole than java. They didn't take much of a walk per se, but at least he wasn't being recorded as they talked in Bates' cubicle.

"I guess attorney client privilege is more of a concept than a truth to you, then?"

Marty shook his head. "Privilege only applies to information knowingly shared between a lawyer and his client. Everything I've told you has been overheard during phone conversations in my presence, and is therefore not protected."

"So this client of yours," Bates said, placing his coffee cup on his desk. "He just talks cartel-"

"I've never mentioned the word cartel."

"You didn't have to," he counters back. "But fine. He just discusses these things in front of you?"

"Yes. For some reason he and his amigos don't think that I can speak Spanish." Marty took another painful sip of coffee. "Pero yo soy de Los Angeles, por supuesto que hablo español."

Bates nodded in understanding and opened the file he was fiddling with in the interrogation room. It seemed to be more of a way for him to gather his thoughts than him actually reading the information in front of him. Whatever works for him, Marty thought.

"Does this client have a name?"

"Everybody has a name. Or two, or three."

"How about just a last name?" Bates asked with a scowl.

Marty felt uncomfortable all of a sudden, but went along. "Serrano. He's a nobody in the grand scheme of things. His only purpose is his familiarity with the city and it's people, and in exchange for that awareness he gets an early peek at the merchandise."

"Why are you doing this, Mr. Deeks?" Bates raised his eyes to meet try to meet Marty's, but the young lawyer was avoiding them.

He stared into his coffee cup. "Sometimes you just have to do the right thing."

"Is that what you do? Justify breaking the rules because it's for the greater good?"

"I can walk right now," Marty threatened quietly. "Tell my client and his buddies that I saw some cops following them, make sure they watch their back so you can never catch them."

"Nah." Bates shook his head. "I don't think you'd do that. You're one of the good guys. But you would take things into your own hands though, wouldn't you?"

Bates was right, on all counts. It seemed that Bates already knew him better than he would like. Before he could protest further, a manila file folder is plopped in front of him. "Martin Deeks, formerly Martin Brandel. Juvenile records are sealed but this wasn't too hard to find. You got into a lot of trouble as a kid - shoplifting, fights, even shooting your own father-"

"That was self-defense," Marty interrupted through gritted teeth.

"I can read," Bates snarked back. "But you cleaned up, went to college, law school. Paid in full. Now you defend people. You volunteer for extra cases, especially those involving kids. It'a a pretty impressive turn-around."

"What's the point of this history lesson?"

"I wanted to check your credibility, see how trustworthy you are as an informant."

Marty wrung his hands together. "I'm not your informant."

"If that helps you sleep at night, son." Bates finished off his coffee and placed his cup, an old ceramic mug with a faded Fort Huachuca emblem on it, behind his phone. "Enough chit chat, Deeks. I trust your intel, and for some unknown reason I think I might actually trust you, too."

"Is that supposed to be reassuring?"

"You can take it as a compliment if you want," Bates said dryly. "Anything you have to share, you speak only to me and I will personally guarantee that no one knows where it came from. I'll arrange for paperwork explaining why you were brought in for questioning today, you'll sign a sworn statement denying any knowledge or involvement. We'll set up a more secure way to share information. And we'll protect you if you need it. If you're not up for it, you can walk away and I'll forget I ever saw you."

A twinge of unexplainable guilt pained his chest, because no matter how strongly he felt that this was something he needed to do, he still couldn't fight the feeling that it was wrong. Surely Detective Bates had to feel the same way, but he was guided by the same convictions that he was - justice. Soft yet firm, Marty gave his answer. "I'm in."

Bates nodded and and eyed him carefully. "This isn't personal for you, is it?"

Marty shook his head slowly and sighed. "No."

March 23, 2015

The ride home from work that night was quiet. Too quiet, really, because it meant that both Deeks and Kensi were so lost in thought that they didn't even remember to argue over the radio station. The silence mostly continued through a hamburger drive-thru, their filing into Deeks' apartment, walking Monty, and cleaning the coffee pot.

He had a lot on his mind. A lot of questions with no answers. A lot of fears with no comfort. And he was frustrated, the same way he always felt when he started losing control of a situation. But up until a few hours ago, he didn't even realize there was a situation.

Hetty wanted to know if there was anything that LAPD Internal Affairs could use against him. But didn't they all have secrets? Wasn't that the price they paid for getting the job done - sacrificing a little bit of their soul every time they broke the rules for the greater good? There were plenty of incidents that he still harbored guilt for. The mission to Afghanistan. His first undercover assignment as Max Gentry. His last case as a lawyer. God could probably spin a roulette wheel of his life and chances are he would land on something that could be questioned.

"You wanna talk?" Kensi broke the silence finally, apparently unable to hold back anymore. Her face said it all - she was worried and helpless and angry and that was a horrible combination for her.

"I kinda just want a shower," he said with a shrug.

"Okay." She nodded. "How about some company?"

Deeks smiled for the first time in a couple of hours. "Always."

The water was too hot, just how he liked it and how she hated it but if she had an issue with it that night, she didn't voice it. She scrubbed his back and he washed her hair, letting a lot of their tension wash away with the suds. He kissed her slow and deep as the water pelted their faces and made it hard to breathe, but it was worth it. Everything was worth it when he was with her, he was discovering.

She pulled away and rested her hands on his chest, and he knew what was coming next. "Why did you lie?"

"Was it a bad enough lie to be obvious?" It was a very deliberate decision, but not because he wanted to betray Hetty's or Kensi's trust. He wasn't confident in what IA would or wouldn't find in their investigation, and he needed everyone else to remain on the lookout until he found out.

"You're a professional liar, Deeks, and that was your worst performance to date."

He cringed slightly at the very true statement. Was that his legacy? A professional liar, never to be trusted. Yet somehow this woman, and their whole team, trusted him with their lives. "I need her to remain suspicious, to search even harder than before. Hetty's span far outreaches LAPD's. If there is something to be found, she'll find it first."

Kensi frowned, but her reaction was what he expected. They've all made mistakes, whether they like to admit it or not. She won't ask him for specific incidents right now, because there isn't enough time in the day to possibly recount everything. He feels bad hiding things from her. Really though, they're probably better off not knowing every dirty detail about each other.

Pushing her shoulders back, she straightened her face and lightly scratched his chest and abs with her nails until her hands rested on his hips. "They won't find anything."

Her confidence in him gave him life. He kissed her, harder and with more urgency this time, letting himself get swept away. It almost worked, but a tiny nagging voice remained in his head.

Maybe not. But that doesn't mean it's not there.