Chapter Five: "The easiest way to steal a man's wallet is to tell him you're going to steal his watch. You take his attention and direct it where you want it to go." – Leigh Bardogo, "Six of Crows"

"Director Fitzgerald, I'm surprised to find you here," Mosley said as she walked into Ops. Eric and Nell were sitting at their work stations. Genevieve was behind the work table, sitting on a high stool. "I thought you said you'd be happy working out of the boat shed. And where did you get that chair?"

"Good morning," Genevieve said, looking up from her laptop. "Eric remembered there were stools in your storage area and was nice enough to bring it up here. The collaboration table here is great but a bit tall for me even wearing these." Genevieve stuck out her Christian Louboutin Prive pumps. "Then again, most things are very tall for me."

"If you need office space here, I'm sure we can find someplace more appropriate."

"Just visiting. The boat shed is great but Eli is downstairs using your firing range and doesn't approve of a free-range me," Genevieve explained. "He decided he was unhappy with the weapons he has at the rental house. The Marshal Service agreed and provided a more significant weapon if he could show he was capable of handling it."

"And being former Mossad," Eric said putting video from the firing range on the big screen, "Marshal Ben-Aharon looks comfortable with the weapon."

"What weapon is it if you don't mind me asking?" Hetty wondered as she entered the room.

"M4A1," Genevieve replied. "Eli is downstairs with that video set up Eric also kindly provided, proving to the Marshal Service that he isn't going to shoot his foot or something equally embarrassing to the both the Marshal Service and to himself."

"M4A1, that's military grade," Mosley noted.

"Eli has security concerns about the house the Director rented," Nell said.

"I should have had you stay at the main house and kept Eli in the guest house. That's our usual set-up," Genevieve said with a sigh. "He's walking around all night showing me all the possible points of entry and possible defense scenarios," Genevieve shook her head. "Meanwhile, I'm trying to binge watch 'Sacred Games' on Netflix and not hear about the unacceptable distance between my bed and the safe room."

"Where are you staying?" Mosley asked.

"It is January in New York. Cold, slushy, dark all the time. Out here, I wanted to rent a place on the beach. Eli decides that's not safe and instead we're two blocks back, on a hill with one means of egress to a house that has a better video security system than the MGM in Las Vegas," Genevieve said, shaking her head. "I'm thinking of flying his wife and his daughter in for the weekend just so I can do some work without being CC'd on another memo being sent concerning the security flaws of the windows in the bathroom."

"You sound like an old married couple," Hetty said.

"I've been paired up with Eli longer than I've been married to my husband, so you may have a point," Genevieve said. "Eric, I just sent you the video from Agent Blye's after action report."

"What video?" Mosley asked.

"Unlike the party celebrating the hanging of the better known paintings at the Downtown Arts Exhibit day before yesterday, Milo's painting was hung by a crew sometime last night. Agent Blye sent an e-mail late last night – actually at 3AM this morning – of the event."

"Miss Blye sent me a text saying Milo insisted on attending his painting's mounting since he was not deemed worth of having his art included with the Pollack, Klmit and Kahlo. The party was wonderful, by the way, Director Fitzgerald," Hetty said. "Thank you again for the invitation. Even Mr. Callen enjoyed the food if not the actual hanging of the paintings"

Genevieve smiled. "I was thrilled you got the last Jackson Pollack LoJack'd. David Geffen sold it for $200 million plus in 2015. I can't imagine how much it would cost now. How did you tag the paintings?"

"The way I do most things," Hetty said with a smile. "Walk in as if I belong there, do what I plan to do and leave."

"It seems to be her way to go through life," Mosley said.

"We're ready to go, Director," Eric said as the video started.

Kensi's voice came over the video first. "Darling, I want to memorialize this moment. I'm so proud and Daddy will be too!"

In the video, workmen were unwrapping the painting from its protective cover.

There was sniffling in the background. Deeks could be heard whispering, "beautiful."

As the painting was set along the wall where it was going to be hung, Kensi called "Smile, fellas," to the workmen.

One workman turned his head to Kensi and did as she asked. The other gave Kensi a quick look and wave but immediately looked back at the task at hand.

"Eric, will you please run facial recognition on the workmen?" Genevieve asked.

"I don't know if I have enough for the man closer to Kensi."

"Try Mr. Beale," Hetty told him. "And cross-check it against the employees of the gallery, galleries and museums nearby. Several of the men mounting the art at the party were associated with museums lending the exhibit the featured paintings."

"That makes sense. Nobody wants a rookie carpenter with a nail gun making a $200 million mistake," Mosley said. There was noise in the video background. "What is that noise?"

"No idea," Nell said. Pulling up the video's metadata, she said, "Kensi filmed this after 1AM. I can't imagine there are too many other people in the gallery."

"According to her after-action report sent with the video, Agent Blye and Lt. Deeks were able to plant the extra security cameras throughout the gallery since they were there with just the two workmen and a security officer who Kensi brought an extra meal and pushed it as leftovers from their dinner at Broken Spanish," Genevieve said.

"Nice distraction for about $50 worth of lamb carnitas and some flan," Hetty noted.

"I was able to run a video loop of the gallery while the security guard was eating so Kensi and Deeks planted cameras in the gallery's exhibit areas, offices and work spaces," Eric said.

"The worker who smiled at Kensi's camera is Jeremy Irwin. He's worked for the Getty for the last 15-years as a master carpenter," Nell said. "He has a worked at every major art event in the city for the last decade."

"Milo is moving up in the world," Genevieve joked.

"Lives in Westwood. Has a wife who is a cardiac-care nurse at the UCLA Medical Center, daughter in college also at UCLA studying to be a dentist, son with an application in at LAPD who is studying criminal justice at Cal State Fullerton."

"Financials?" Mosley asked.

"Money looks tight but nothing out of the ordinary," Nell said. "The Irwins are sending a lot of money to the colleges, especially UCLA, but their mortgage is almost paid off and both kids will be out of school in a few years. 401K's look OK. There have been no big bank deposits in the last five years and no outrageous purchases outside a semi-pricey cruse to Hawaii and Tahiti for their 25th wedding anniversary."

"With the state of the modern marriage, any union lasting 25-years deserves a pricey second honeymoon," Hetty noted.

"The other workman?" Genevieve asked.

"Still looking,"

"What is that noise?" Mosley asked. "Something has to be going on."

It was as if Kensi on the video feed heard Mosley. "Oh baby, are you crying?" Kensi whirled the camera around to a weeping Deeks. "Milo, baby, is this your dream come true?"

"To be here with you, with Wedding Day Rain as it finds its rightful home with its fellow paintings," Deeks broke into a full wail as he started to openly weep. "Look at Wedding Day Rain!" Deeks had Kensi turn the camera back to the painting.

"What is he doing?" Mosley asked.

"He's in full Milo mode," Genevieve said laughing. "He was so out of his mind working as Milo in New York that rooms emptied when he was around. It made it very easy to plant cameras, look at files since he was clearing out whatever space he was entering."

"By making himself the frivolous center of attention, he becomes someone no one pays any mind," Hetty said. "Well done, Lieutenant."

A high-pitched wail from Deeks had the second workman look right at Kensi's camera. "Got him," Eric said as he paused the video. He restarted the facial recognition search.

"Well done, indeed," Genevieve said.

Eli walked into Ops with a large weapon case. "I am cleared to use the weapon," he told Genevieve.

"Like not being cleared would have stopped you," Genevieve said more to herself. "How many targets do we owe NCIS?"

"The Marshal Service is sending two boxes to the office's drop location," Eli said. "Thank you for the use of your firing range, Director Mosley, Ms. Lange."

"Hetty," she corrected automatically. "We can store the weapon in our armory."

"I'll keep it here, thank you."

On the video, Willow comforted the weeping Milo promising fame and fortune once his work was properly showcased.

"The shy workman is Victor Vylasek. Came to America as a child. His father Oleg worked as a carpenter-handyman-jack of all trades for the Russian Consulate in San Francisco, his mother Anna was the personal chef for the consulate general. The Vylaseks split when Victor was a teenager. His father got custody as his mother returned to the old country. Father and son moved to Los Angeles in 2000. Both became citizens over a decade ago. Oleg worked construction jobs, becoming a union carpenter. Victor graduated high school and started working in construction as well."

"Did they work for anyone in particular?" Mosley asked.

"Fenton Construction. Both of them worked mainly for Fenton," Eric said. "Both men are master carpenters."

"Fenton?" Genevieve asked.

"They are one of the biggest construction outfits in Los Angeles. They've worked on everything from LA Live and the Wilshire Grand to the Aon Center, shopping malls and apartment complexes 50-miles in every direction," Nell said.

"Father works for the Russian Consulate and then some huge construction projects. That's interesting," Hetty noted.

"Great way to know what's going on in Los Angeles in business, in private and in public, have your own people building where it happens," Nell told the group.

"Mr. Beale, I'm going to need a list of all buildings Oleg and Victor Vylasek worked on right away."

"Oleg Vylasek is in the Simi Valley Nursing and Rehabilitation Home. He suffered a fall on a job and broke his hip and several vertebrae. He's been there for nearly a year," Eric told Hetty.

"That has to be expensive," Nell said

"Those type of facilities usually are," Genevieve said.

"The union is currently playing for the rehab and the stay at the facility since he was on a job. There is also a lawsuit filed about unsafe work conditions," Eric told the group. "But there are night nurses who sit with Oleg Vylasek. The union isn't pay for that and there is no money yet from any lawsuit."

"That has to be expensive as well," Nell said.

"And if the younger Mr. Vylasek is paying for his father's care, who is paying the younger Mr. Vylasek?" Hetty wondered.

"There has to be some decent pay hanging even Milo's painting at 1AM but there can't be enough jobs like that every month to pay for private nursing care," Genevieve said. "Have there been any big cash infusions?"

"No," Eric said. "No cash out either."

"Where are the night nurses coming from?" Mosley asked.

"Small agency called Med Sestra in West Hollywood," Eric answered.

"Medsestra is Russian for nurse," Hetty said.

"Based on their billing practices, they don't take a lot of clients with Medicaid, Medicare or any other government aid," Nell said.

"The staff probably has more than its fair share of undocumented home health aides or nurses looking for off the books money," Mosley said. "Is Jeremy Irwin's wife an employee?"

"Based on the hours she works at UCLA," Eric said, "I can't imagine she has the time. But I'll check."

"I think Victor is an early suspect for Vanin's man inside the gallery," Mosley said. "Vanin's financial footprint makes it logical he's an all-cash employer."

On the screen, Deeks's Milo was kissing first Ingram then Vylasek on both cheeks, grateful they were part of making his dreams come true. He then gave Kensi's Willow a passionate kiss, explaining to the men how his muse is his dream come true.

"A man of many dreams," Nell joked.

Kensi walked into Ops, dressed in her own clothes. "Willow got a call from the Josefina de Ricardo yesterday. After she told me the time the painting was being hung, Willow was told Milo is no longer allowed to speak to Josefina and must refrain from touching the walls or anything hanging on the walls. Including his own painting."

"Bet she calls today about kissing the workmen," Eric said with a smile.

"The full Milo," Genevieve said laughing. "Give him a week and they'll evacuate the place as soon as he enters the building."

"Where is Mr. Deeks?" Hetty asked.

"He got a call from LAPD this morning. Matt and Talia had a big score last night on an undercover operation they're working. Deeks is just going over the paper work before LAPD arrests everyone involved in whatever those two were working. Then he's going to take Milo over to the gallery and spend the afternoon staring at his art work and likely crying."

"The full Milo," Nell said laughing.

"It's been a fun week," Kensi said. "No offense Nell."

"None taken," Nell said sincerely.

Eric's computer beeped. "Sam just sent me a text. He is meeting with Dmitri Vanin at 11AM."

"Is Mr. Brown there?" Hetty asked.

"Byron Brown started working for Elite Cellarage yesterday." Genevieve said. "Already oversaw the transfer of nearly half-a-million of wine from their vaults to a private residence in Malibu yesterday. I should have his security clearance returned by the end of today but we're keeping that out of any database until the case is over."

"Then we're in business," Mosley said.

The security and hidden cameras showed Sam's office from a number of angles. Sam sat in a black leather chair behind a large white marble desk. Byron Brown was sitting in one of the two guest chairs across from him. Both men were wearing expensive suits - Sam's black with a bright dress white shirt, Byron's charcoal grey with a pale blue dress shirt. Neither man wore a tie.

There was a matching marble table for six in the corner of the room with a light grey mini-kitchen. Expensive glassware was stored in a cabinet above a 24-bottle wine refrigerator. The walls were painted a deep burgundy with expensive framed photos of vineyards on the walls.

The glass wall behind Sam's desk included a sliding door to a small patio area with a table and chairs as well as another cabinet with both glassware and a wine refrigerator.

"I'd certainly store wine there, if I owned any," Kensi said in Ops to nobody in particular.

"If you're going to ask people to store hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of wine, Miss Blye, you are going to have to present a certain image."

"Walking into the head sommelier's office are the glass storage units for some of the clients who are looking to flash their wealth and taste," Genevieve said. "Behind the little patio area is a much larger warehouse where the assortment of tax evaders, alimony cheats and general weasels have their stash."

"What happens to them?" Eric asked. "You can't let them get away with…."

"Have you met the Director?" Commander Rehme asked as he popped up on the big screen. "Her Department of Justice roots run deep. Especially the justice part."

"Good to see you Commander, the office is connected to Agent Hanna's office."

"Yes ma'am. I also have Agent Gibbs on with an audio feed in case our Vanin breaks into Russian."

A young woman appeared on the screen entering Sam's office. "Mr. Duncan, a Mr. Vanin is here to see you. He's a few minutes early for his 11AM."

"Is she with us?" Mosley asked.

"Claire Miller, FBI. Forensic accountant from the Bozeman, Montana office. Zero chance Vanin would have her on his radar," Genevieve said. "She's putting together the financials the IRS and family court cases for after we close down this place."

On screen, Vanin walked in wearing a gray sports coat with a white shirt and black slacks.

Sam jumped up and walked around his desk. Offering his hand, he introduced himself. "Mr. Vanin, I'm Charles Duncan, it is a pleasure to meet you."

"You too," Vanin said.

"Can you turn that up please?" Genevieve asked, troubled by something.

"I am in the process of contacting all of our clients," Sam said. "Say hello, offer whatever services the client may need. I want to assure everyone that I am here to help facilitate every aspect of their wine ownership experience. Buying, selling, arranging wine tastings – we want to do it all for our clientele."

Byron coughed.

"Of course, my apologies Byron," Sam said. "Mr. Vanin, this is Byron Brown, Elite Cellarage's new head of security. I've known Mr. Brown for years during his time as a top-flight security professional. Just thrilled to have him on board."

"Mr. Vanin, good to meet you. Please know that Mr. Duncan and I are here to service your every need."

"That is good to hear because I find myself in need of some assistance. Mr. Brown, if you don't mind, I would prefer to meet with Mr. Duncan privately," Vanin said with only a trace of an accent.

"Is there something wrong with the audio?" Eli asked.

"Beat me to it," Genevieve said.

"What's wrong?" Eric asked.

"We've got hours of tape on Vanin and he sounds like an educated Boris Badenov," Eli answered.

"Who?" Nell asked.

"I'm so old," Genevieve commented. "Rocky and Bullwinkle? 'Moose and Squirrel'?"

"Yeah, nothing," Nell said, shaking her head.

"Nothing for me either," Kensi said.

"While the Director being older than most of the staff is always endlessly entertaining here in our office, why isn't he speaking like Drago from 'Rocky IV'?" Rehme asked.

"That one I know," Kensi said.

"Me too," Nell agreed.

On the big screen Byron walked out of the office and Sam offered Vanin a seat. Sam walked over to the kitchen area and returned to his desk carrying a tray with a bottle of Pellegrino water and two glasses. After opening the bottle, Sam did an elaborate pour and offered his guest a glass. "I'm not one for coffee in the morning. Ruins the palate for the day."

"Spoken as a man who sleeps well at night and doesn't need a boost to start his day," Vanin said as he took a sip of the water before placing it down on the small table between the guest chairs. He took his phone from his jacket pocket and set it next to his glass.

A hiss came across the speakers in Ops. "Switching over now ma'am," Commander Rehme said. Sound was returned to the office.

"Spoken as a man who treats his body to the finer things in life," Sam answered.

"He has a signal jammer of some sort on that phone to mess with any modern-day listening devices," Genevieve told the staff in Ops.

"So the office is hard wired with equipment used in the 1970's," Rehme said. "There is an honest to God microphone built into that table next to Vanin."

Vanin leaned forward in his chair. "I find myself in a situation where I am in need of some funding."

"If this is about your fees here, I'm sure we can work out a schedule where payments could be skipped for a few months. You have been a loyal patron…"

Vanin shook his head and his right hand. "No, sadly I find myself needing to liquidate a large portion of my collection. I was wondering if you knew of any possible buyers. What my collection lacks in size it more than makes up in quality."

"Of course. We have a long 'wish list' provided by some of our members just for times like this," Sam turned to the laptop on his desk. Pulling up Vanin's collection, Sam smiled. "I think I should be able to move whatever part of your collection you are willing to sell by close of business tomorrow."

Vanin pulled an envelope from the inner breast pocket of his jacket. Opening it, he handed the first of three sheets of paper to Sam. "These are the wines I'd like moved. I'm only looking for top dollar for any of them. My financial need is not such that I'm willing to accept below market value."

"You should not," Sam said. "I would not be doing my best for you as a client if I did not secure a proper price for your wine."

"I'd like these bottles shipped to Russia. My sister and her husband are coming on up an anniversary and I'd like them to enjoy a case."

"You are a generous brother, Mr. Vanin. I'll have these packaged and prepared for shipping tomorrow morning. I see you have Diplomatic ID's with your sister's address."

"Yes, that should expedite the transport of the wine."


"Finally, I'd like to take a few bottles home for myself. Many do not believe Russian wine is worthwhile but I find the sparkling wines of Abrau-Dyruso to be quite delightful."

"Agreed. And the Alma Valley Merlot is an underrated gem," Sam offered.

"You do know your wines, Mr. Duncan," Vanin said with a smile. "This is an account where the proceeds from the sales can be deposited."

"Sam took a look at the paper. "Cayman National Bank. I've been here just a few days already executed several transactions with the bank. This should be done rather quickly Mr. Vanin."

"Excellent. And the Cellarage's take?" Vanin asked.

"After taking over the management, I found the ten-percent surcharge to be confiscatory for clients like yourself. Two-percent is more appropriate for a collection your size."

"Mr. Duncan, this may be the easiest sale I've ever had. Now about the sales, would I be able to get a list of buyers in case I wanted to rebuild my collection. Offer a better price than what they spent on the wine?"

"Here Mr. Vanin, I'm going to disappoint. I'm afraid just as I won't be telling my clients that you are the seller to guarantee your privacy, I am doing the same for the buyers."

"Of course. Just thought I'd ask." If Vanin was either surprised or disappointed, he did not show it.

"If there comes a time when you'd like to acquire some of the same wines or similar wines, you can provide me a list and I'd be happy to make inquiries about a possible resale. Or help you start replenishing your collection when your financial situation improves," Sam said.

"All I could ask for."

"Let me call down to have the wine you're leaving with brought to your vehicle. Mr. Brown, the gentleman who was just here, is currently doing a little bit of everything as he becomes familiar with our procedures. If you bring your car to the loading dock, Mr. Brown will be waiting for you."

Vanin stood and picked up his phone. As Sam stood, the two men shook hands. "Mr. Duncan, thank you for making this much easier than I thought it would be."

"While I love wine Mr. Vanin, I do understand that business decisions sometimes must be made. The quote may be the best things in life are free but I think you and I sadly know better."

"I look forward to doing business with you in the future Mr. Duncan."

Sam walked Vanin to the door.

"Can we switch to the loading dock area?" Genevieve asked. "And I need someone to tell Mr. Brown that Vanin Is coming his way."

"Switching now," Rehme said.

"Sam is calling with the wines Vanin wants back. Byron knows he coming," Nell said.

"Ma'am, I've taken Vanin's portion of the conversation with Agent Hanna and am running it through our tapes where we didn't think Vanin was speaking."

"Any matches must be sent to Agent Gibbs," Eli stated.

"Not if he's using his accent-less voice in English," Genevieve argued. "We can listen to him without a translation just as we listened here."

"Send them to Agent Gibbs anyway, Commander," Eli said.

"If we find anything, we'll send copies to you Director and to Agent Gibbs," Rehme said.

Kensi's phone chirped. "It's Deeks. LAPD is making arrests. He's on his way to the gallery."

Genevieve asked, "Would the two of you be able to review transcripts of any conversations Vanin had with his new voice?"

"Sure. I mean I shouldn't answer for Deeks but if they're making arrests tonight, it is all over except for the paperwork for Matt and Talia. I'm supposed to have a fitting for whatever gown you ordered for the Exhibit opening. I'm supposed to pick it up tomorrow. Deeks's suit too."

"Fine, Miss Blye," Hetty said. "We can do the fittings here and review whatever materials Commander Rehme finds tonight."

"Vanin just arrived at the loading dock door."

On the screen, Byron walked out with a large wine carrier. He placed the carrier next to Vanin's SUV backdoor. Opening the carrier, he showed Vanin the wine bottles inside.

"How would you like this secured in your vehicle, sir?" Byron asked.

"If you could put in on the floor in the back seat. The last thing I need is some silly young person texting and rear-ending me."

"Very smart. Driving here has always been an adventure."

"Mr. Duncan said you just started with the Elite. Where did you work before here?"

"I worked in private security after retiring from the Army Rangers. Spent too much time away from my family and thought private security would be a way to be home and be a good husband and father."

"Honorable choice."

"It was until there was a threat made to my family a while back and I made a desperate decision. It was the right one – I saved my family – but it cost me my career. Mr. Duncan knew me before he left for Paris. I was fortunate he was looking for a security chief."

"How long were you unemployed?" Vanin asked.

"Over a year. My wife works as a school administrator at our children's private school so we were able to keep them in school with only one income. Our retirement funds took a hit but I think getting back in the game means things are going to turn around for us," Byron said as he secured the wine in the SUV. "As long as I can provide a good life for my wife and children, give them the best lives I can, I'm going to be fine."

"Again, an honorable choice."

"Mr. Vanin, if you need anyone for weekend or night bodyguard duties, please feel free to give me a call here. Mr. Duncan knows I need to take on some side work."

"I will keep you in mind," Vanin said.

Byron handed Vanin his business card as he closed the SUV door. "Anything you need, I can do and what I can't do, I can learn."

"Good to know," Vanin walked to the driver's side of the SUV. "Would you be able to get me a list of the people who bought my wine? Mr. Duncan said no and I understand if you cannot as well but I might like to reacquire some of my collection and while I do not mind your firm taking a fee, I might be able to offer more the buyer in a direct sale."

"I'll see what I can do," Byron said.

"You will, of course, be rewarded for your work. And I am happy to keep this between you and me."

"Mr. Duncan works fast. I may have that list to you in a day or so."

"I think this could work out well for both of us, Mr. Brown."

"Byron. My Dad was Mr. Brown."

Vanin drove off with his wine.

"Why would want the names of the people buy the wine?" Eric asked.

"He's going to steal it back," Commander Rehme said from his office.

"And probably take a bottle or two of each buyers' best stock. Crafty bastard," Eli said. "My apologies to those I've offended."

"You've been working this case a long time Marshal Ben-Aharon, your feelings are understandable," Hetty said.

"I have Agent Hanna and Mr. Brown on video conference call from their conference room," Commander Rehme said.

"Put them on please," Genevieve asked. Once Sam and Byron appeared on the screen, Genevieve said, "Gentlemen, excellent work."

"How do you want this handled?" Sam asked.

"Tomorrow morning, Sam, call Vanin and tell him you're about to wire the proceeds from the sales to his account. Commander Rehme is working with Chad Walsh for the prices of those wine. We'll give you a 5-10% bump."

"Go for 10%, my friend Mr. Duncan is smooth," Byron said.

"Noted," Genevieve replied. "Mr. Brown, you should get a call from Vanin at some point. We'll give you a name or two. You can say those were the transfers you were directly involved with so there is no computer record of the info you sharing."

"That way he's not overly suspicious," Hetty noted.

"I would seem like a man looking for a few extra dollars but not risking my new job and the future of my family," Byron said. "I like it."

"Ma'am," Commander Rehme interrupted. "Something's off."

"Today has been off," Eli mumbled.

"Vanin's sister lives near Tuapse but the address he gave Agent Hanna was in Sochi," the Commander said.

"Sochi isn't too far from Tuapse," Eli said. Genevieve shot him a surprised look. "I know my Russian geography."

"Our systems here have the addresses about 80 miles apart," the Commander advised.

"Recheck the intelligence on the sister and the brother-in-law. I don't like this," Genevieve said.

"I don't like any of this," Eli said. "Bad intel on his sister, he's suddenly sounding like a California beach boy. This doesn't compute."

"Sam, Byron. Handle Vanin with care. We're not as buttoned up as we'd like to be here. Kensi, the same with you and Deeks. I don't have all my 'I's dotted and 't's crossed."

"And that's not how we work," Eli mumbled.

Deeks opened the door to the undercover loft. "Milo has entered the building," he announced before slamming the apartment door behind him.

"Crying Milo was a hit up in Ops today," Kensi said as she greeted him. Giving him a quick peck on the cheek, she asked, "How did things go with Matt and Talia?"

"I had both Matthew and Talia arrested and booked with the others. That got the targets talking to the DA's office a lot faster than we hoped. I got Matthew and Talia quietly released about an hour ago. They'll be doing paperwork and after action reports for the next week. I'm free to Milo without any office concerns from LAPD."

"Did you hear from Genevieve?"

"Commander Rehme actually. He admitted he was a little concerned about some surprises today."

"I'll fill you in but yeah, they were all a little on edge when Vanin showed up without an accent and their intel on his background was wrong."

Deeks plopped down on the uncomfortable couch. "That's not their style. Something is wrong."

"The Marshal, Eli, Nell told me he brought in military grade weapons for this one."

"Getting Genevieve hurt would not be a good career move for him."

"Seemed like more than that," Kensi said. "Enough work talk except to say I missed you today."

"We were together until almost three in the morning," Deeks said.

Kensi sat next to him, starting to snuggle and finding Deeks was more than welcome to her advances. "Want to find someplace ridiculously expensive to eat on Postmates?" Kensi asked. "I have Willow's credit card."

"Or we could get Roscoe's. I'm feeling more Deeks than Milo tonight. And wouldn't mind some time with Kensi and not Willow," Deeks said with a smile.

"Food first, fun later?" Kensi suggested.

"And how to tell Kensi from Willow," Deeks teased as he picked up Willow's phone from modern-style coffee table and hit the Postmates app.

Annoying author's notes: Real life (actually work life) went to DefCon five for about two plus weeks. 15-hour days at work seven days a week for those two plus weeks left little time for anything but sleeping. The regular Sunday posting schedule should resume.

Thank you for your patience and concern. It was all work related.