A/N – Well, this is the end. Hope it was worth the wait. As always, I don't own the characters except my OCs and I don't know much about the inner workings of NCIS. Google will only go so far and sometimes I get conflicting information. Therefore, I cherry picked what worked for me and I made some things up, like how/when new agents are posted to an office. Happy Thanksgiving! I'll be spending mine in Aruba!

A/N2 - Thanks to my guests reviewer (Michelle) who noticed an error in the cities I picked at the end. I waffled back and forth on the ending for some of my characters and had two sets in mind. I went one way and forgot to update the cities.


Chapter 18


Carrington hustled through the families clogging the auditorium, dodging people left and right. He'd heard through the grapevine that Director Vance was going to attend and wondered if he'd be able to get a word with him, let him know his feelings about Deeks being an agent before he got his grubby hands on a badge. He stopped short when he caught sight of the Director, talking with a tiny woman and a tall older man. His jaw almost dropped when he considered that this could be the Henrietta Lange. The woman was legendary, both for her small stature and the many stories of her escapades over the years. He knew she was the Operations Manager at the Office of Special Projects, whose exploits were whispered about at the Academy. He took most of it with a grain of salt, knowing her reputation probably made the stories wilder than reality. Really? How many nuclear weapons were just lying around to be stolen? He changed directions, not wanting to talk to the Director with an audience. He'd just have to bide his time. He disappeared into the back where the graduating class waited. He didn't miss the fact that Deeks's group clustered around him as he approached. He sneered but didn't stop.

Phil watched him scurry away and shook his head. He turned to Deeks, who was trying not to laugh. "It's not all that funny, you know."

"Why not? He doesn't want to come near me, which is fine with me. He can't do a thing now, I've passed all my classes and the ceremony is only a formality."

"Not really. He could still hold up you getting your badge if he finds someone who'll listen to him." Charlie said worriedly as he watched the other agent make his way around the room, officiously instructing people on how to act and where to stand. Deeks wished he could tell them not to worry, and why, but didn't want to let that particular cat out of the bag just yet. He wanted to concentrate on enjoying the ceremony and the last hours with his friends. They'd all stopped at the coffee shop for one last time, as planned, exchanging numbers and information with Claire, who looked like she'd been about to burst into tears. When she'd got him alone and said how much she'd miss him, Deeks had responded that he'd see her again as he expected an invitation for him and Kensi to her wedding. She'd tearfully agreed, pulling him into another hug, stating the same. He'd prevaricated a bit on that, knowing he was going to ask again but that small part of him still wasn't sure if she'd say yes, this time either. They'd left with more hugs all around and headed up to the auditorium.

Sheppard, Henderson, Mac and Cora all made it a point to seek him out and congratulate him in Carrington's hearing, which had only set the other agent off and make him more determined than ever to speak with Vance. As the time approached, the graduates quieted down as it finally sank in that this was it. An admin went over the ceremony one more time, making sure each knew in what order they were to head out in. Phil would go first, with Deeks behind him. After that, it would be alphabetical. This was one of the larger groups to graduate, as attrition was usually higher, and they needed to move smartly. The class had only lost one trainee, which was unusual.

The two friends stood next to each other and didn't say a word. There was really no need. When the lights went down, the admin motioned to them. Over the loud speaker, they heard that the Director of NCIS would be handing out the badges for this particular class. A murmur went over the group as they all knew this was an honor. The Director didn't often come to the Academy, let personally congratulate the new agents and hand them their badges. Out in the audience, Sam and Callen exchanged glances, wondering what was so special about the newbies that had Vance going to all this trouble.

Nell and Eric were almost vibrating with excitement. The two agents frowned at him and Nell piped up. "He doesn't get out much." Eric looked at her in shock and she widened her eyes at him, warning him to get it under control without saying a word. The two still didn't know about Deeks or that Kensi was here. Between Deeks's friends and the L.A. group in the know, they'd made sure the two never caught sight of her. He made a conscious effort for control as Vance took the stage to a round of applause.

"Good afternoon. It's my pleasure to be here and congratulate one of the best classes to pass through this Academy. You should all be proud of them, as are we. We'll start with the two who were at the top of this exceptional class. From what I've heard, it was right down to the wire to see who would come out in first place. That honor goes to our first new agent, Phillip Johnstone." A round of applause shook the building as Phil walked out. He shook the Director's hand and accepted his badge. Looking out into the audience, he quickly found his family and smiled widely at them. Rebecca and Matthew held up a sign they'd made without him knowing. It said 'Congratulations to the best NCIS agent in the world. We love you dad!' He blushed a little but walked off with a silly smile on his face. Sam's jaw had dropped open when he recognized the man. He'd started at the name but expected it to be a coincidence and he was a little more enthusiastic than the rest of his team in their clapping.

"What gives, partner?" Callen whispered.

"I know him, G! He's a retired Seal I worked with more than once. He's good and would be an excellent addition to the team." Sam enthused back.

"Better than Deeks?"

"Hell no, but still, if it has to be someone other than him, it wouldn't be a bad thing for it to be someone at least one of us knows."

"We'll see." Callen felt a little frisson of jealousy and tamped it down. If Sam said the man would be a good fit, he'd give it a try.

They both turned their attention back to the stage where Vance had been handed another name and badge. He sought out the L.A. contingent as he wanted to see the looks on their faces when the next name was announced. "Second in class, by a very small margin, please welcome Special Agent Martin Deeks." He wasn't let down when he saw the comical looks of disbelief and confusion on the faces of the two agents who had been a pain in his butt more than once. Still, they were the best of the best, even if he didn't always agree with their methods. The shock on their faces made it hard for him to maintain a straight face.

Deeks walked out and shook his hand. Sotto voce, Vance said. "I knew you wouldn't let us down, Deeks. Congratulations." They smiled at each other, Deeks took his badge and faced the crowd. When he spotted Granger and Hetty, he smiled. When he saw Nell and Eric, his smile got wider. That dimmed a little when he saw Sam and Callen staring up at the stage, both men with their arms crossed over their chests, identical forbidding looks on their faces. What were they doing here anyway? He knew he had Hetty to thank, or blame. This wasn't exactly how he wanted them to find out. He gulped a little and searched for Kensi. When he found her with the Johnstone's, his smile returned and then turned to shock as she stood up, clapping for all she was worth. He wanted nothing more than to jump down off the stage and rush to her side, asking her when, how and why hadn't she told him. Vance reached out and gently nudged him along. Blushing, he made his way off stage.

He hadn't made it far when he heard Carrington hiss at him. "How dare you embarrass this agency by trying to monopolize the ceremony!" He ignored him, walking on air as he replayed seeing his Kensi stand on her own. Carrington hissed at him again. "You're a disgrace!" This time he didn't let it go. He didn't need to take this anymore.

"Shove it Carrington." He said and turned to walk away.

"Don't you turn your back on me, you sorry excuse for a human being. You're an agent now and I'm your superior. I'll have you up on charges of insubordination! Enjoy that badge Deeks, it won't be yours for long." He fairly gloated as he waltzed away. Deeks watched him go in dismay.

"I heard the whole thing. If he actually dares to try to bring you up on charges, he'll have me to deal with!" He turned to find Mac standing at his side, looking daggers at Carrington's back as he strutted away.

"Thanks Mac."

"Congratulations Marty." She used his first name and smiled at him. Behind her, Lucas, Stefan and Cora joined them to add their congratulations.

"Thanks everyone. I want to tell you how honored I am to have been in your classes. You're all excellent teachers and I appreciate everything you've done, for all of us."

"You're welcome but you all made it easy. I don't think I've ever seen a class become as close as you lot, especially not that quickly." Cora said.

"Don't let Carrington worry you." Sheppard said. "I've been here far longer than him and if I have to, I'll speak to Director Vance himself on your behalf."

"I doubt it will go that far." Deeks said but worried that Vance would end up rethinking the whole 'Deeks as agent' scenario if people started asking for special favors for him.

"We'll see. Go join your friends and we'll see you at the after party." The cafeteria always held a party for the new agents, their friends and family. Deeks nodded and headed towards Phil in the waiting area, who immediately knew something was up.

"What's wrong? You should be walking on air like me, not looking like your best friend just died." He patted himself down. "Nope, still alive." Deeks laughed as expected, but his heart wasn't in it. Phil frowned. "Out with it, what's up?"

"I told Carrington to shove it when he accused me of trying to monopolize the ceremony. I wasn't, I was just in shock."


Finally, a real smile grew on his face. "Phil, Kensi stood up when I was announced. All on her own!"

"Really? That's great news! No wonder you were frozen."

"Yeah, well Carrington didn't let me explain and probably wouldn't care anyway." He filled Phil in on the whole conversation, including Mac's defense of him.

"I wouldn't worry about it. Mac's word is good, especially if it's against his."

"I know, I just don't need the drama. I've been an agent for, what?" He looked at his watch. "10 minutes and I'm already in trouble?"

Phil clapped him on the back. "You're always trying to one up me, aren't you? Come on, let's enjoy the rest of the ceremony." They stood and waited, clapping as each one of their classmates were introduced, congratulated and handed their badge. Eventually, everyone had had their moment and waited to be released. The lights had gone up in the audience and the room was emptying out. The admin had them all sign the appropriate paperwork and it was finally over. Where they were posted would be sent to them by the end of the next week but right now, they were official NCIS agents and it was time to head to the cafeteria to meet up with friends and family. Deeks just hoped Sam and Callen were over their apparent snit.

Inside, the two agents were watching the door intently, waiting for their ex-Liaison to come through it so they could pounce.

"Mr. Callen, Mr. Hanna, I do hope you aren't planning on giving Mr. Deeks any trouble over this?" Hetty asked.

Sam grinned. "Who? Us?"

"Yes, you. Mr. Deeks worked hard at this and has acquitted himself well."

"We know, we just want to mess with him a little." Callen said with a smile. Hetty sighed and shook her head, keeping an eye on the door herself as she sipped a glass of wine.

When Deeks walked through the door with his friends, things didn't go according to the agent's plans as Phil spotted Sam right away and strode over to him. "Sam Hanna! As I live and breathe, what are you doing here?" He knew exactly what, as Deeks had told him ages ago that he knew Sam and that he was an NCIS agent.

"Phil, ah, good to see you! Congratulations on joining NCIS. We're pleased to have you join us."

"Good to know. So, what are you doing here, at this graduation?" He'd always enjoyed making Sam squirm.

"We were asked to come and assess a few of the new agents." Callen replied. He stuck out his hand. "Special Agent Grisha Callen. Sam's partner." Phil took it and did his own assessment, liking what he saw.

He turned to Deeks. "Sam, I think you know my friend, Marty?" Deeks smiled weakly and waved a hand.

"Yeah, we know him." Sam said, staring at Deeks, who stared back. He'd hoped they'd be proud of him, not angry. His heart dropped a little until the big man took pity on him. He clapped him on the back, practically knocking him down. "Congratulations Deeks, you finally did it!"

"Yeah, congratulations Deeks." Callen added.

Relieved, he grinned. "Thanks Sam, Callen."

Kensi wheeled up with a big smile on her face. "Were you surprised?" She asked.

He looked down at her, trying to maintain a straight face when all he wanted to do was lift her up and twirl her around. "I was. About a lot of things. Why didn't you tell me?"

Her smile became a little strained. "Because, I wanted to do this to surprise you." She locked the wheels and pushed herself up. Taking a few faltering steps, she walked into his arms which closed around her tightly as a smile lit up his face.

"God, Kens, I don't know what to say! I'm so happy right now I think I might burst." He hugged her tighter and she started to pant a little when she couldn't breathe. He loosened his hold but didn't let go completely as the rest of the team surrounded them, all talking at once. Phil looked on with a smile and then wandered off to find his family.

Eventually the dual congratulations died down and Callen turned to Deeks. "So, I take this to mean you'll be at the Mission on Monday, ready and able to go?"

Deeks figuratively bit the inside of his cheek, deciding to tease the senior agents a little, and replied seriously. "Who says I'll end up at OSP? I don't know where my assignment will be, I'm still waiting to hear. Could be I'll be an agent afloat."

Callen and Sam immediately rounded on Hetty and Granger, who were both smiling. "Very funny Deeks." Sam said, punching him the shoulder.

"Ow! I don't know if I want to work somewhere my teammates beat up on me."

"And I don't know if there are any one man offices Deeks." Callen chimed in as they all laughed. Kensi eventually sat back down as she was tiring and the two of them then made the rounds of his friends, making sure everyone exchanged numbers and promising to keep in touch. Charlie and Amanda, John and Sofia, were both kind of quiet and he knew they were feeling some pressure. The relationships were still pretty new, and he figured both couples were worried that they wouldn't survive being separated. He stared into space and wondered if he had any more leeway with his bosses to pull some more strings. He'd watched the two couples and knew Charlie and Amanda were the real deal. With John and Sofia, he didn't get the same vibe. He decided he'd mention it and see where it went. The worst that happened was Hetty or Granger said no.

They finally ended up with Phil and his family, the talk turning to the future and it was all Deeks could do not to tell him to stop worrying, that he wouldn't be far from Christine and the kids. Out of the corner of his eye, Phil saw Carrington edging up to Vance, who hadn't had a moment free since he walked in the door, and tensed. Apparently, Vance saw him too and turned to him.

"May I help you Agent…"

"Carrington, sir, Neal Carrington." He wasn't pleased the Director didn't know his name, unaware that the man knew exactly who he was and had a little surprise in store for him.

"What can I do for you Agent Carrington?"

"Sir, if I may, I'd like to request a moment of your time, on a private matter?" Vance had a good idea of what it was but didn't let on. He planned on teaching the teacher a little lesson. He'd delved into the agents past when his issue with Deeks had surfaced and he understood where the man was coming from. Losing any agent was never easy, but when it was a partner and friend, the pain never really went away. However, it didn't make it right for him to assume Deeks wasn't fit to carry a badge for NCIS, especially as the man had put his life on the line for his country over and over.

"Of course, I just want to finish up here and then I'll have a few minutes free. Join me?"

Carrington puffed up and joined him as they slowly made their way towards Deeks's group, Vance stopping to talk and shake hands as he went, Carrington making it a point to importantly add his two cents. Hetty took note and slowly edged her team towards Deeks. She didn't know what he had planned, but Leon could be a sneaky bastard. She watched as he greeted and congratulated the newly minted agents on his way, making it look like it was nothing special when he got to Deeks and Johnstone. He stopped first at Phil, Carrington glued to his side and looking self-satisfied.

"Congratulations again Agent Johnstone, on both becoming an agent and being first in your class." He held out his hand.

"Thank you, Director. Truthfully, it was a group effort. Everyone of us helped the other through training. They're a good group of people and NCIS should be proud to have every one of them onboard." He glared at Carrington who just smirked back, sure he had the upper hand.

"Oh, we are and thank you for your candor." He turned to Deeks and Kensi, catching the look of distaste on Carrington's face. He talked to Kensi first, patting her on the shoulder. "Kensi, it's good to see you looking so well." If Phil's jaw dropped open, it was nothing compared to the expression on Carrington's face.

"Thank you, Director. I'm hoping to be back on duty in the very near future."

"I have no doubt. And congratulations on shocking your partner. I don't think I've ever seen Marty too surprised to speak!" He deliberately used Deeks's first name, something he'd never done before. Hetty and Granger exchanged smirks while the rest of the OSP team also watched with open mouths. Finally turning to Deeks, Vance held out his hand. "Well Marty, it only took you nine years, but welcome aboard! Your team has been…restless…since you left." Restless, combative, antagonistic, the list went on in his head.

"Um, thank you Director. I'm looking forward to working with them again." He avoided Carrington's eyes.

Noting the rest of the team standing behind them, Vance nodded. "Hetty, Owen, glad to see the whole team is here to support Marty." Pretending he hadn't been in on it the whole time.

"I could hardly leave them in L.A., Leon. I would never have heard the end of it. Mr. Deeks is very important to them, to all of us."

"I'm well aware of that. That's why these four is one of the best teams we have." He laid it on thick, watching the eyes practically bug out of Carrington's head off to his left, feeling a deep satisfaction at the sight. "It will be good to have them back together again. Their support is sorely missed." He turned to the man at his side who appeared to have shrunk several inches. "Agent Carrington allow me to introduce you." He turned and began the introductions.

"Henrietta Lange, Operations Manager of the Office of Special Projects." Hetty inclined her head but didn't offer her hand, her face inscrutable.

"Owen Granger, Assistant Director in charge of OSP." Owen also nodded his head, but he didn't hide his disdain quite as well.

"Agents Sam Hanna, Grisha Callen and Kensi Blye, OSP's premier team." Sam and Callen knew something was going on but weren't sure what. They took their cue from their bosses and nodded their heads as well, also not offering their hands. Kensi just pursed her lips.

"Technical Analysts Eric Beale and Nell Jones, OSP's best kept secret weapon." The two analysts blushed a little but neither made a move to offer a hand, aware of the man's actions over the last few months.

Turning to Deeks so that his face was hidden from Carrington, Vance winked, shocking Deeks into silence once again. Twice in one day was pretty much a record for him. The Director inclined his head towards Carrington. "And, of course, you already know Agent Martin Deeks, former LAPD Liaison to OSP and its newest field agent. Marty has pretty much been an acting federal agent for the last nine years, now he's official and we're all damn proud of him."

Deeks took pity on the man as it looked like he was about to expire from a heart attack. "Yes, I've had the pleasure of meeting Agent Carrington and taking a class with him." He held out his hand. "Agent Carrington, it's good to see you."

Carrington took it automatically, surprised that Deeks had offered. In fact, he'd been the only one of the group to do so and he started to think he'd made a huge mistake with his assumptions. Still, the fact that the man whose life he'd made miserable, was behaving like nothing had happened between them, rankled a little bit. His "shove it" echoed in his head and made it worse. He dropped the hand quickly and stepped back without saying anything. Unnoticed amongst the drama going on, Mac, Stefan, Cora and Sheppard had joined the outskirts of the group just as Vance had introduced Deeks and the four shared a look, frowns on their faces, wondering if they'd been used.

Hetty saw them and turned. "Miss. MacDougall, Mr. Sheppard, Mr. Henderson. Good to see you again."

"Hetty, good to see you too." Mac replied as she took the outstretched hand without asking any of the questions that were foremost in her mind. Stefan just smiled and shook her hand as well.

Sheppard wasn't so reticent. "Hetty, do I understand from what Director Vance just said that Deeks has pretty much been an agent for the last several years?" His anger was near the surface and noticeable. Sam and Callen tensed and moved to flank Deeks.

"Yes, but he refused to allow us to assist him in any way or to allow us to waive any classes we felt he shouldn't have to take due to his prior service. He was determined he would pass his classes and become an agent just like any other trainee, with no special treatment from anyone. In fact, no one from his team, other than Miss. Blye, was even aware that he was in the program. He's a stubborn one, our Mr. Deeks." She smiled at them.

Lucas had to smile, knowing just how stubborn the man could be and glad that he it wasn't some kind of ruse. "He is at that and I know he'll be a damn good agent." He turned and offered his hand to Deeks who looked relieved.

"Thanks Agent Sheppard."

"It's Lucas, now that you're an agent."

"Lucas then, as long as you call me Marty." He looked at the four instructors that had had his back. "That goes for all of you. And Mac, you said to ask you again after the program was over, so I expect you to join us for drinks later." He smiled at them. "All of you. Some of us are going to a bar to do some last celebrating before we're broken up to different postings. Hope you can all make it." Everyone nodded, and plans were made. The group broke up as the instructors began to make their way towards others they'd trained, intent on offering their congratulations once again. Carrington, however, appeared frozen.

Vance turned to him. "Well, that's done. I believe you wanted a few minutes for a private conversation Agent Carrington? I appear to be free at the moment."

The man swallowed hard and shook his head. "No, that's quite alright Director. What I wanted to discuss with you has already been resolved." He was still convinced Deeks didn't deserve to be an agent, but he had a finely-honed sense of self preservation. If Deeks was protected as high up as the Director of the agency, he knew this battle was lost. The war, however, was not over. He'd be keeping an eye on this man who'd disrespected him, totally missing the irony concerning his own lack of respect and suspect behavior. He'd pounce the moment he heard anything that could be used against him, even if it meant going over Vance's head, directly to SECNAV. His thoughts might have taken a different tack if he'd known the current SECNAV was aware of Deeks, and how well the oddly formed team performed, and heartily approved. He nodded to the group and headed off, his confidence returning with each step he took further away from the people behind him. Deeks had pulled the wool over all their eyes, and it was up to him to remove it. They watched him go, with very different thoughts in their own heads.

When he was finally swallowed up by the crowds, Callen turned to look at Deeks, taking in Vance, Hetty and Granger as well. "Anyone care to explain what that was all about?" He wasn't stupid, he'd caught the tension in the air and raised an eyebrow at them. Sam crossed his arms over his chest, backing up his partner.

"Nothing you need to be concerned about Agent Callen. It's over and done with." Vance responded, although his thoughts were not as sure as his words, deciding that he would continue to keep an eye on the agent. He also decided he'd be looking into other classes to see if any unexpected drop outs could be attributable to the presumptuous little man.

"Deeks?" Sam asked.

"Nothing to worry about Sam, it's all good."

"Right." Sam eyed Eric and Nell, who both looked guilty. He decided to bide his time and see if he could get it out of Eric, who was easy to bully into telling him things he shouldn't. He may make fun of Deeks, he may tease him about his abilities, but he knew the man made the team better. That he brought skills with him that still surprised the two senior agents at times. No one else was allowed to intrude on that and the other agent had best watch his back if he tried anything that harmed Deeks and, by extension, the team.

Talk turned to their surprise that Deeks had been in the program all this time and managed to keep it from them. They all exchanged stories of training and the things they'd learned, comparing instructors and constantly telling their newest agent how proud they were of him. For all his outward posturing, Deeks wasn't really happy to be the center of this kind of attention and maneuvered the talk around to the excitement of Kensi being so much further along in her recovery than they'd thought. The team was getting closer to being whole again and the relief was palpable.

Eventually, it was time to go. Deeks and Kensi would be joining the rest of the team for dinner at the borrowed home, which had turned out to be a ten room mansion right on the shore. They found the rest of Deeks's crew and took their leave, firming up plans for later that evening. The group from L.A. watched the interactions of the close-knit group and most felt a varying degree of jealousy, hard pressed not to notice that Deeks was the center. He was theirs and had been for years. The thought that they may have been supplanted in his life, was not something they wanted to contemplate.

They all trooped out to the parking lot and there were several moments of pushing and shoving as Sam, Callen and Deeks fought to help Kensi into the van, with much good-natured laughter. When she was finally ensconced in the front seat and the wheelchair was strapped in, Sam hopped into the driver's seat before Deeks could, stating he knew where they were going and Deeks could just sit in the back, where he belonged. Pretending to chafe at the age-old seating arrangements, he really wasn't upset to being relegated to the back. This felt familiar. This felt like home.


Dinner was a relaxed and delicious affair as they sat on the deck of the beautiful house, overlooking the ocean. It was catered by the chef of one of the most prestigious restaurants in the area as the man was apparently a close friend of Hetty's and felt he owed her something. What the something was, was never revealed. When it was over and time for them to leave to meet Deeks's friends, Hetty and Granger declined and watched the younger agents gear up to leave, with varying degrees of fondness. When they were finally gone, and peace settled over them, Hetty quietly got up and left for a moment, leaving Owen to stare out at the moon on the water. She returned shortly with a bottle of scotch and two glasses. Pouring the amber liquid, she handed one to him and settled into a chair next to him.

They were silent for a while, each lost in their own thoughts as they sipped their drinks. Finally, Owen turned to her. "Do you think that's the end of Carrington and his interference?"

"Truthfully? No, I don't. I think we need to keep our eyes and ears open. I know Leon feels the same." Owen nodded. Neither had been fooled by the Director's statement that the affair was over. With the comfortableness of old friends/enemies, the two sat and quietly talked of times past as they watched the moon ride the waves.

They'd decided to take just the van to the bar as it was large enough for all of them. This time Sam let Deeks drive after the ex-detective had thrown his own words back at him about knowing where he was going. They took the secondary seats, with Sam whining loudly about dog hair amidst much laughter. Nell and Eric sat in the back and drank it all in. The family was back together, and their world was finally settling back into its correct orbit.

They were one of the last groups to arrive and were welcomed warmly. The evening went by quickly as everyone tried to make the best of their last time together. Deeks and Kensi pulled their L.A. friends from group to group, introducing them but not making a big deal of them working for NCIS. They fit in well and it seemed like no one wanted to leave. When the bar finally announced last call, more than one person was surprised. The parking lot became a last minute opportunity to say a final goodbye to new friends and reiterate promises to stay in touch. Deeks and his group were the last to leave as it seemed like everyone gravitated back to him and Kensi multiple times. Eventually, they were the last ones waving goodbye and it was time to head back with Eric behind the wheel this time as designated driver.

It was decided that Kensi and Deeks should stay at the borrowed house for the night instead of making the long way home so late. Monty was already being taken care of by the dog sitter so they didn't need to worry about him. They quietly entered, with giggled shushes, only to find Hetty and Granger still up and in the same place on the deck, although the bottle of scotch was now severely depleted. They all joined them, and the celebration continued quietly as Deeks's new badge was passed from hand to hand. The expected teasing about crackerjack and cereal boxes was voiced, followed by sincere words of congratulations. Very early in the morning, one by one they drifted off to bed with quiet goodnights.

Sunday morning, everyone packed their things and did a quick once over of the house, cleaning up this, that putting away, determined to leave it in a good shape as it had been when they'd arrived. Done, they piled into the two rental cars to head home, Kensi and Deeks to the hospital, the rest to Hunter Airfield to catch the 1100 scheduled transport that would fly them back to L.A. Granger drove the SUV containing the agents he had come to think of as his team, as it followed the van up the highway. He surprised them all when he honked a goodbye as he peeled off at his exit, leaving the van to continue its way. A responding beep, beep was heard as the two groups went their separate ways. It was kind of a sad sound but, soon enough, they would all be together again.


Phil stared at the email from NCIS in his inbox. This was it. This was his assignment and he didn't want to open it. What if he was assigned miles from home instead of close like he'd requested? Or worse? Agent afloat where he'd only be able to contact his family at random times, never knowing where in the world he might end up. What had he been thinking? He second guessed his career choice as his hand hovered over the mouse, refusing to obey his commands to open it. He'd only been home for a few days, reacclimating to it, friends and family in and out, congratulating him on his new status and it hadn't really sunk in until he'd opened his email account. He swallowed hard and almost leapt out of his chair when a hand landed on his shoulder.

Looking up, he smiled sickly at his wife. She shook her head and smiled back. "Wherever they assign you, we'll deal with it as a family. Just like we always have." She put her hand over his and maneuvered the cursor over the email and they double clicked together. Reading it, there was silence for a moment before Phil exploded from the chair, grabbed her and swung her around.

"Devens! I got Devens!" He crowed. She laughed, and the kids came running at the noise. Seeing their dad and mom so happy lifted a weight off both their shoulders as they realized their dad was home for good.


Charlie's phone rang, and the caller id said it was Amanda. He took a deep breath, knowing why she was calling. The assignments for their class had come out today and they had promised to let the other know as soon as they got theirs. Their current homes were fairly far apart as he lived in Iowa and she in Oregon, but there was nothing really holding either of them there. NCIS tried to make sure that agents weren't forced too far from home unless they indicated they were open to being posted anywhere. He'd checked the box stating he'd accept any posting, anywhere in the world, as he had no close family left, but that had been before he'd met her.

She still had family, but they were scattered to the winds. Her parents had divorced when she was young, her mom had remarried and started a new family that she'd never really fit in with, so she'd lived with her dad. Sadly, he'd died several years ago. That had led to her checking the same box. The chances they'd end up near each other was pretty slim, if nonexistent. When they'd talked about their future, they'd agreed to try long distance after they got their orders and see where things went. He'd just found out he'd been assigned to the Northwest field office in Silverdale WA.

He nodded his head and answered. "Hey babe. I got Silverdale. What did you get?" He asked without letting her even say hello. There was silence on the other end and his heart sank. Would their relationship survive long distance or were they destined to drift apart?

Finally able to speak, Amanda squeaked out. "I got Kitsap Naval base in Bremerton WA! Charlie, do you know what this means?"

"Of course I do! It means we need to find a place about halfway between."

"You mean, move in together?"

He paused at the hesitation in her voice. "Only if you want to. Maybe, we can both get our own place, but close together, and see where that leads. See where we stand in a year or so?"

"No, no, let's go for it! Let's find someplace we both like. Maybe…maybe we could get a dog?"

"I love dogs! And I…I love you." It was the first time he'd said the words out loud to her, knowing some would think it was too soon, but the truth was he'd known after their first real date. For some reason, now felt right.

"I love you too." She responded softly. They settled in to make plans, neither knowing that Deeks had had a hand in their postings, offering up another promise which Hetty took great pleasure in accepting.


One of the things that had drawn John and Sofia together was their common home state of Florida, although they'd grown up on different coasts. Both still had strong family ties in the area and had requested postings as close to home as possible, although they both knew possible was strongly stressed. They'd come together later than Charlie and Amanda and neither was really sure if the other was 'the one', although both had wanted to see where it went.

John read his email and nodded, pleased with assignment in Mayport FL. It wasn't all that far from home, on the correct coast and he'd be able to visit for the holidays without too much trouble. His phone rang, and he didn't bother to check the caller id before answering.


"John, it's Sofia. Did you get your assignment?"

"Yeah, Pensacola. You?"

"Panama City Beach! I'll be less than an hour from my folks!"

"Congratulations!" There was silence as they both registered that they were happy with their assignments, even though they were posted on opposite sides of the state. He knew this was probably the beginning of the end and felt only a fleeting sadness for something left unfinished. His confidence had grown with the help of his class and of this woman, for which he'd always be grateful. "We'll keep in touch, right?"

"Of course. We're only a few hours from each other and can visit when we have some free time." It felt false to both of them, but neither was overly devastated. They would make an effort but then the length of time between contact would dwindle and they'd each become a fond memory for the other. Deeks had seen this and hadn't pushed on their assignments once he'd been told both wanted to be close to family. He'd used what little influence he had left to make sure that happened, even though he knew it would most likely spell the end of them.

They chatted for a few more minutes and finally hung up with half meant promises, both already onto different things once the connection was broken.


Kensi was discharged from the hospital eight days after Deeks's graduation. The hospital staff had a small party for them, wishing them well and letting them know both would be missed. Kyle was true to his word and gave them his contact information and they reciprocated. They both agreed that they wanted to come back to Savannah in the near future, but it would depend on how things went with Kensi and with work.

They flew home on another private jet, another friend of Hetty's whose plane just happened to be flying important documents from Georgia to L.A., at exactly the right time. The trip home was filled with anticipation and the crew made more of Monty than they did of their two guests. The dog lapped it all up, sitting like a king in one of the leather chairs, patted and made much of, the human guests a secondary thought. Something that amused both of them no end. The limo waiting for them whisked them home from the airport, both surprised when it wasn't Kensi's place or Callen's but instead to their new home.

They sat in the car and stared at the house in shock. The yard was pristine, and the windows shone like diamonds. The door opened, and their team spilled onto the porch, Hetty and Granger sauntering out behind them. They waited while the driver opened the door and then there were hands everywhere helping Kensi step out on her own. The wheelchair was lifted from the trunk but ignored, everyone seeming to know without it being said, that she wanted to walk into her new home on her own. Deeks placed her hand in the crook of his arm, giving her someone to hold onto and they slowly made their way up the front walkway, Sam and Callen hovering protectively in case they were needed.

Inside, everything was as it had been when they left, but was sparkling clean, not a dust mote anywhere. Eric showed off the state of art alarm system he'd installed while they were gone. Sam made suggestions for renovations for the outdated house and offered his do-it-yourself help. Both were overwhelmed as they took it all in. Callen quietly brought the wheelchair in and Kensi sank into it gratefully. The somewhat heavy atmosphere was broken when Monty barked at the French doors to the back yard. Deeks let him out and everyone began to laugh as the dog ran laps around the yard, stopping suddenly here and there to do some serious sniffing and then taking off again. Eventually he ran out of steam and flopped down in a spot of sun, stretched out fully and was instantly asleep.

It was then that Deeks noticed the new grill with the big red bow on it. He stroked it a little and didn't know what to say. Sam clapped him on the shoulder. "That's a house warming gift from G and me. No homeowner should be without one."

Callen strolled up and added. "We brought enough food for an army. What say we break this puppy in?"

"I hope you don't think you're going to cook?" Sam looked askance at his partner.

"Why not? I'm a good cook!"

"Uh huh. The last burgers I ate that you cooked, could have moonlighted as hockey pucks."

"I like them well done! Just because you like yours still mooing…"

"There's well done and then there's well done!"

"I'll have you know that…"

Both men silenced when they were shoved aside by Granger. "Your arguments are of no consequence as I'll be doing the cooking."

All that accomplished was more people in the argument. In the kitchen, he could hear Hetty and Nell arguing the best way to cook corn on the cob. Deeks left them to it and wandered over to Kensi to see how she was doing, finding her watching their team with a funny look on her face.

"What's up Kensalina?"

"I missed this. I didn't realize how much until right this minute." She said quietly.

"The arguments?" He teased.

She reached up and gripped his hand. "No, family."

"Speaking of family." Deeks replied, swallowing hard. "Would you be the start of mine?" His voice was low and his heart beating hard as he pulled her engagement ring from his pocket.


Nurse Susan Jones opened the door to the waiting room and looked at the paper in her hand. "Mr. Roberts? Mark Roberts?" She smiled at the man who stood up and headed her way, noting the bandage on his right hand. "Oh, what happened there?'

Mark looked down at his hand and said quietly. "Dog bite."

"I'm sorry. I hope everything is okay with it?"

"Yeah, clean bill of health." Making an effort, he smiled and added. "Thank you."

"You're welcome. Right this way." She opened one of the first doors and stood aside for him to walk in, but he hesitated. Used to this with new patients, she said softly. "It will be fine, go on in." He squared his shoulders, took a deep breath then stepped inside. She softly closed it behind him as the man behind the desk stood up.

Holding out his hand, the man spoke. "Mr. Roberts? I'm Dr. Zachary Evans. It's good to meet you." Mark took the proffered hand and shook it. "Would you like to take a seat? Anywhere you want is fine." The doctor indicated the various seating options in the room and he stared at the couch. Moving as far away from it as he could, he chose an armchair close to the window. The doctor smiled and sat in the matching one opposite it.

"Now, why don't you fill me in on what brought you here today?"