post-ep for 7x14 - 'Come Back'
Big thanks to maybemadmarie and MontyDeeks/kensideeks for reading this over for me!

usual disclaimer - I own nothing


"We'll always make time for noodles," Kensi says softly before pushing up on her toes and pressing a sweet kiss to his lips. "Always."

"Can that time be now?" Deeks mumbles against her mouth, causing her to pull back slightly and roll her eyes good-naturedly. "What? I'm seriously hungry. Which means you must be starving."

She huffs in retort, but can't deny it, she is hungry – they're getting off work over an hour later than normal and the intense shootout at the safe house this afternoon didn't leave a lot of time or opportunity for a snack. Yet, she's torn between wanting to grab some dinner and really wanting to get to her house to load up the SUV with her stuff.

It's just a formality, really, the whole "moving in together" thing. They spend most of their nights together and so many of her belongings are already at his house, but Kensi can't wait to make it official. Since they decided to take this step almost a week ago, she's spent the past few days and nights at her place, boxing up the possessions she can't bear to part with and (much to Deeks's surprise) throwing out or donating the vast majority of everything else. Two, maybe three trips between houses and it will be a done deal.

Just the thought of it is enough to bring that goofy, excited grin back to her face.

When Deeks sees her eyes begin to twinkle again, he knows he's not going to be able to say no to her this time (and he realizes that's not much different from any other time). He sighs in resignation. "How about this? Let's go put what we can in the Audi, then we'll stop to pick up food on our way to my house."

If it's possible, Kensi's smile grows even wider as she nods in agreement. They've been practically living together for so long, he forgets that making it official is not only a big step for them, but especially for her, with having to pack and move her things and getting rid of her place. Deeks squeezes his arms around her waist, hugging her even closer to him. With so much enthusiasm radiating off of her, it's impossible for him to hold back an equally bright smile of his own.

She pulls him down for one more kiss and then she's the one mumbling against his lips, "Our house."

Now he's the one who can't stop grinning like an idiot. Their house. He likes the sound of that. "Our house," he murmurs, resting his forehead against hers. "I can't wait."

. . . .

In the end, the wait for their food is longer than usual and Kensi convinces Deeks that they should pick up the second – and last – load of her stuff while they wait. With her keys turned in to her landlord and one last backwards glance at the place she called home for seven years, she reaches across the center console of the SUV and pats Deeks's denim-clad thigh. Her face is going to hurt if she keeps smiling so much, but she figures it's worth it. "Let's go home."

. . . .

"Our first night officially living together and we're eating takeout on the couch because we can barely see the dining room table and I'm pretty sure there are boxes blocking our way to the kitchen," Deeks teases, as he swallows a forkful of lo mein. He steals a dumpling out of the container Kensi holds and pops it in his mouth. "Maybe tomorrow I'll cook us a real dinner to celebrate."

Kensi shrugs and smiles at him. "This is more us."

"It is," he agrees. "Plus, I doubt we'll be able to see the table or get into the kitchen tomorrow either. Or the day after. I may need to start looking for that maid Jack told me to get."

"Hey!" Kensi huffs with laughter, bumping his knee with hers. "I never would have left you two alone if I knew you'd be trading secrets about me."

"Kens, your…lack of tidiness is not a secret." Deeks chuckles lightly at her narrowing eyes and pursed lips, knowing she can't disagree. He sobers quickly though, as he remembers other snippets of his conversations with her ex. Ironically, he thinks he may have actually learned more about himself today than he did about Kensi. "Honestly though, I'm glad I got to talk with him."

Putting her near-empty takeout carton down on the coffee table, Kensi pulls her feet under her and turns sideways on the couch so that she's facing her boyfriend. She runs a hand through her hair and exhales before meeting his gaze. "Thank you," she says sincerely.

Deeks cocks his head and looks at her curiously, placing his own food carton on the table. "For what?"

"For today." She reaches for his hand, loosely lacing their fingers together and pulling their joined hands to her lap. What isn't she thankful for when it comes to him on any day? "For being supportive and encouraging me to talk to Jack. For trusting me and what you and I have enough that it made the whole situation a little bit easier to deal with…" She trails off and takes a deep breath.

He lifts her hand and presses a soft kiss to the back of it. A silent display of understanding and patience and love.

Kensi's heart flutters at the gesture and wonders how it's possible for her to fall more in love with this man every day. The fleeting moments like this, when he doesn't even realize he's doing anything special, are what mean the most. "For being you."

And because she loves him and is so grateful for his help in getting through the day and because she realizes she hasn't kissed him yet in his house that's now their house, Kensi leans forward and pulls him towards her until their lips meet.

When they break apart, his eyes roam over her face. "Are you doing okay?" He's not sure he even has to ask – she seems like she's doing fine, and not just Kensi "fine," but actually fine – but he wants to make sure.

The easy, genuine smile he gets in return is all the assurance he needs.

"I'm great."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah," Kensi nods. "Seeing Jack today was…unexpected—"

Deeks snorts. "No shit."

She smirks before cotinuing, "—but I think it turned out to be a good thing. I didn't know I still needed more closure until he was standing there in front of us." The chance to talk to Jack in a situation that was somewhat less dire than the cold Afghanistan cave was a blessing in disguise – it was easier to really listen and understand what he had to say, and to say the things that were on her mind. "I think I appreciate more why he left – that he did it for himself, but he did it for me too. We were never gonna make it together after what happened to him in Afghanistan, but if he had given me a choice, I don't know if I could have let him go."

Deeks can't help but wrap his arm around her shoulder, tugging her to him and pressing a soft kiss to her hair. He feels her exhale deeply against him as she shuffles closer and her arms wind around his middle. Despite the number of years it's been, and the strength of what they have together now, he knows it's a sensitive subject and the effect it has on her makes her understandably somber and he wants to be there for her.

Kensi allows herself to get lost in the feel of his strong arms anchoring her to his body and inhales the comforting scent that is uniquely Deeks. Her breath hitches almost imperceptibly at the sudden and overwhelming thought that if Jack had followed through on coming back for her all those years ago, she might have never had this – the very best thing that's ever happened to her.

"Do you remember what I told you after that case with the douchey billionaire?"

"You said my frittatas were the best."

Kensi pokes him in the side and pulls back. "And that this…what we have…is all I've ever wanted. I thought I loved Jack, and that by being with him, I knew what love was. And in a lot of ways, those things were true…at the time." She pauses, waiting for Deeks to look at her. "But, Deeks…I never knew how deeply I was capable of loving someone until I fell in love with you. It's hard to resent Jack for leaving me when I ended up gaining so much more than I lost."

Deeks's eyes never leave hers and she watches as his expression morphs into one of disbelief, wonder, and adoration. It's the same look, the same array of emotions, she always sees whenever he's caught off-guard by something she says or does. It's the look that tells her that he'll never take her for granted.

He's speechless at first, whether it be because the words don't register immediately, or because he's committing them to memory, he doesn't know. Then his eyes blink rapidly, and the corners of his mouth draw up into the soft smile that Kensi seems to bring out in him. He leans forward, and with his lips hovering a mere breath away from hers, he whispers the only words he can think to say. "I love you."

"I love you, too." She closes the minimal space between them and they share a long, slow kiss. As she snuggles back into his side, Kensi rests her head on his chest and asks what she's been wondering most of the night. "What else did you guys talk about?"

"You, mostly. He gave me a couple pieces of advice."

She tilts her head up to look at him, but his eyes are trained on the coffee table. "Advice about me?"

Deeks nods absently, realizing that by revealing all of Jack's advice, he has the chance to follow some of it and confess something to her that he has never admitted to anyone before today.

He knows Kensi is aware, on some level, of what led to her rescue in Afghanistan. They talked about it in vague terms after they returned to LA and she's seen the reports and knows that what happened shook him up. But she doesn't know about the nightmares – ones that are vivid and real and that shake him to his core. They're getting fewer and farther apart, and he doesn't usually wake up screaming from them like he did last month, but with her moving in, it will only be a matter of time before she sees it firsthand.

Closing his eyes, he nuzzles her hair and breathes in the lingering scent of her shampoo. With Jack's words running through his mind, motivating him, he exhales and repeats them out loud for Kensi to hear. "Don't push her away."

"Don't push me away? From what?"

"I, uhh…I have nightmares, sometimes." Deeks says it so quietly, she almost doesn't hear him. "About Afghanistan and the cleric and trying to find you."

Kensi pushes herself up, sitting to face him with surprise written all over her face, and grabs his hands. She knows the mission to save her was hard on him, but he's never let on to just how much it affected him, especially after all the time that has passed. "What…why haven't you ever told me?"

Deeks shrugs. "When we got home, I knew you were dealing with so much more than I was and it wasn't about me…I didn't want you to worry. Then time just kept passing and I stopped having them as often." He takes a deep breath. "I had one last month though…a particularly bad one, and if and when it happens again, I don't want you to see me that way and not know why." He looks at her then, "No more secrets, right?"

She gives him a small smile, her eyes looking suspiciously wet, and nods. "No more secrets. I want to be there for you, Deeks. I always want to be there for you."

"I know, Kens." He squeezes her hands, his mind drifting to the times nightmares have startled him awake less dramatically but with no less fear that he'd lost her for good and what that makes him want to do. He thinks about how seeing her curled up next to him and pulling her into his arms does wonders to calm his racing heart and mind. "You always are."

"I still have them too," Kensi admits a few moments later, staring at their joined hands.

The confession isn't a surprise to him, like his was to her – after everything she went through in Afghanistan, he would find it more shocking if she wasn't having nightmares. "That's normal," he reassures her. "You went through so much."

Kensi nods, but Deeks sees the same flash of defeat in her eyes that he feels, the desperation of wondering if the horrors will ever stop haunting them completely. It makes his heart ache for her, and for both of them, that they've been hiding from each other.

"New rule," he continues, wanting both to address the heavy conversation they've found themselves in and to get back to their milestone evening and the goofy-happy version of his girlfriend that he misses already. "No more secret nightmares. Okay? Wake me up, tell me in the morning, whatever. Just…no more dealing with them alone."

"That goes for you, too."

"Goes for me too," he confirms with a quick nod of his head. "And no breaking this rule like we keep breaking the other rule about not making out at work."

Kensi chuckles, "That's not exactly what the other rule is."

"Eh, close enough." He smiles, feeling lighter than he has all day and happy to see her laughing.

She pecks him on the cheek and stands, gathering their takeout containers before navigating her way through the maze of boxes towards the kitchen. When she reenters the living room, eyeing him coyly, she reaches for his hands and tugs him to his feet.

"Let's go to bed."

"Bed?" He glances at his watch, "it's kind of early."

"Who said anything about sleeping?"

. . . .

The lights are still on downstairs, there's a trail of clothes leading up the steps, and the duvet is crumpled at the foot of the bed, lying half on the floor, but Deeks is finding it impossible to care about any of that chaos as he lies next to a very naked Kensi in their bed, in their bedroom. She's snuggled up to his side, her head pillowed on his chest as she trails her fingers lightly over the planes of his stomach.

For as nervous as he was to take this step, he thinks he's never been as happy as he is right now. Waves of exhaustion from their long, crazy day – and the hour he just spent worshipping every inch of his girlfriend's smoking hot body – are crashing over him, but he'd be content to lie awake here all night, with her, to make this feeling last as long as possible.

"You said Jack gave you a couple pieces of advice," Kensi interrupts his thoughts, remembering what he had said to her earlier. Her voice is heavy and words slurred as sleep begins to claim her. She lets out a long yawn and burrows even closer to him. "What else did he tell you?"

Deeks tightens his arm that's wrapped around her shoulders, holding her slender, sated frame securely against him. "To never let you go."

"Good advice."

"Nothing I didn't already know," he whispers, running his hand up and down the soft skin of her arm. She mumbles something he can't quite make out and he feels his own eyelids growing heavy. Sleep is going to win out tonight, but he isn't worried. Waking up like this tomorrow, knowing that she's here to stay, will feel just as wonderful.

Letting himself drift off, he presses a lingering kiss to the top of her head as her soft snort-snores fill the room. "Welcome home, Kens."