Author's Note: Honest to hell, I'm not completely sure what this is. It started out as me writing on Thanksgiving, and then became a look into the partnership of Deeks and Kensi. I suppose there are some romantic vibes, but not overtly so. Ignore them if you like and focus on the partnership.
Some creative licenses have been taken in regards to Deeks and Kensi's pasts. They seemed to work with me.
Apologies for the cliches(and the angst), but hopefully I made them work. Please let me know your thoughts, they are always appreciated.
NCIS Special Agent Kensi Blye thinks that maybe there should be a rule – no bad guys on Thanksgiving.
Or any holiday for that matter.
She'd be just fine with crooks and other lowlife jackasses taking President's Day off as well.
But dammit, especially this one.
This one, well, it means something.
Or at least it had once upon a time.
When she'd still had a biological family.
Back then, even when it had just been she and her father, Thanksgiving had been a day full of food, football and way too much laughter.
Back then, it had been Heaven.
These days, she spends it by herself, usually nursing a bottle or two of the hardest alcohol she can find.
She's hardly the only one.
Her family now – her team – is made up of broken pieces of glass that have been fused together to make a sheet glass of glass that looks (and acts) a lot harder than it probably is.
And dammit if they don't all have issues.
Mommy issues, daddy issues, mommy and daddy issues.
On the evening before the holiday, they'd all traded around the familiar question of "so what are you doing tomorrow night?"
Each one of them except maybe Sam had lied.
Callen had claimed that he'd been invited to dinner at some random girl's house.
Deeks had said he'd be spending it with his mom.
She'd claimed she'd be going to see her relatives, the ones who had taken her in after her father's murder.
The ones she hasn't seen in at least five years.
They'd all recognized the lies passing around and yet no one had called anyone out on them.
She figures the reason is simple if not ridiculous.
They've all spent so much time being orphans that being part of a family now is still just a little bit alien.
None of them quite knows how to simply say, "how about we just spend the time together?"
Even in her own head, it feels hopelessly silly and sappy. Out loud, well she's not sure how she could make the words work.
She trusts these people with the only thing that is important to her – her life. And in return, they provide her with something else to treasure (and fear for) – their lives. It's an awesome and at times unbearable responsibility.
And yet it doesn't make finding a way to not spend the holidays alone any easier.
And so here she is, standing in the back of an all night liquor store, slightly tipsy already. Her eyes skid across rows of bottled alcohol, looking for something that will get her to the point where her mind will stop offering up memories (of dad and football games and jellied cranberry and please just stop…) and allow her to slip into a peaceful sleep.
It's just a few seconds after her hands circle a bottle of Jack when she hears, "Let's make this easy, friend, everything you got and no one gets hurt."
Her hand goes to the back of her jeans and silently, she curses.
She'd intentionally chosen to leave her Sig at home, deciding that in her slightly inebriated state, neither car nor gun was safe for her to play with.
Ducking low, she slides forward a few steps, making sure that she's out of sight of the Robber.
It's a young guy, mid twenties with strawberry blonde hair. He'd almost be handsome if the way the anger contorted his features didn't make him look so ugly and aged.
He's pointing his gun at the freaked out cashier and there's something cold in his stance, something that seems to say, "Don't screw with me because I will kill you."
She wishes she could see his eyes (but he's angled away from, not quite with his back to her, but close enough) to see if he's high. His voice though, it's steady and calm, like he's in complete control.
She watches as the Cashier, just a kid himself, quickly hands over the cash. "Please," the kid says when the Robber once again points his gun.
The Robber seems to think about it for a moment and then, his finger constricts on the trigger and he fires. The Cashier cries out and falls backwards, disappearing behind the check-stand.
It takes everything she has not to cry out. Only years of training keep her from doing so and even then, she's quite sure that the insane beating of her heart has to have given her away.
The Robber looks around, his eyes skimming the rows. She ducks lower and inhales sharply.
For a moment, she's sure he's seen her and she's thinking of ways to disarm him if he comes right at her.
But then he's turning and heading for the door.
The moment he's out, she charges forward and jumps over the check-stand to check out the Cashier. She's relieved to see that the bullet hole is in his arm and not his chest. "Are you okay?" she asks.
He nods. "Okay, Hang on," she tells him as she presses her jacket up against his wound. "I'll call for an ambulance."
And she's even about to when her eyes happen to slide outside and she sees the Robber casually walking away from the liquor store, like nothing had happened.
Like he hadn't almost just killed a kid.
It's enough to get her blood pounding and to make the alcohol inside of her rage.
Her good judgment flies out the window and suddenly she's out the door and racing after the guy.
He never sees her coming.
She's on him before he knows what's hit him and then she's slamming his face into the pavement. She thinks about yelling NCIS, but then remember that this isn't a case and she doesn't have her badge on her and if she exposed her identity so easily (and while slightly drunk), Hetty would have the mother of all fits.
And so a citizen's arrest this is.
Only, she figures, most citizens probably don't beat the shit out of the losers that they're trying to arrest.
It takes a moment or two for the Robber to fight back.
Once he does though, his moves are a lot more sober than hers.
Still, she's good.
Better than him even in this state.
They wrestle for control and then finally, she's on top of him, pointing his gun into his face. "You're under arrest," she says.
"By whom?" he growls. "You a cop?"
"Just a concerned citizen," she snaps back.
"Yeah, well you should have minded your own damn business." And then suddenly he's shoving his knee up into her stomach (stupid, she thinks to herself, to expose such a weakness to him). Gasping for air, she tumbles off of him. He's on her almost immediately and she feels his fist crack against her face.
She groans and winces.
He hits her again and she tastes blood.
A third time and she thinks that maybe she's actually seeing stars.
Then she hears the click of his gun and she's knows what's coming next.
She thinks about her team, thinks about her dead father and then for the slightest of moments, thinks about going out like this.
Half-drunk and by the hand of a lowlife thief.
Not a chance in hell.
She spins away just as he fires and the bullet just barely grazes her arm. It hurts, but not terribly.
She doesn't think long about it before it before she's back up on her feet sending a knee to the Robber's face. She puts enough force behind it that it sends him flying. And then charging him and following up with a foot to his gut.
Now he's the one wincing.
She doesn't miss the crowd gathering around (just wonders where the hell they came from – it's Thanksgiving, dammit, these people should all be at home).
One more hard kick to his face and he's done.
She wants to keep going, wants to vent and let all of the fear and frustration of the last week (it's crazy to think that just a couple days ago, she was standing in a room, mere inches away from certain death) out on him, but she hears sirens in the distance.
She sighs and steps back.
She knows that she's bleeding from cuts on her face and arm (the gunshot graze is sending a steady thin stream of bright red blood down her white sleeve), but she has no intention of spending tonight in a hospital room.
So when the cops arrive and after she's pulled one aside and told him who she is and that she's NCIS (he challenges her on this until she mentions Deek and then he suddenly believes her, as if suggesting that no one would willingly admit to working with Deeks unless they had to), she declines medical attention. The cop practically begs her, but she refuses so many times that he finally gives up.
She makes her statement and then promises that she'll come down to the station in the morning for any follow-ups. Reluctantly and admitting that he couldn't stop her if he actually tried, the cop lets her leave.
One last look at the Robber as he's being loaded into an ambulance (whining loudly about police brutality or something silly like that) and she's walking away.
And wondering where to go.
She doesn't know until she gets there and then it's too late to turn back.
So she knocks.
LAPD Detective Marty Deeks hates the holidays.
It's what happens when you grow up with a family full of loudmouths and jackasses.
He knows that he's a bit of both.
He can remember Christmas days that had turned away from the glee of ripping open presents to the horror of watching his parents scream at each other.
And Thanksgivings full of, "Is that really what you want to do with your life, Marty?"
And oh God, the fun of the 4th of July and drunken rants about "throwing your life away to be some stupid idiot cowboy cop with a gun".
His thing had always been survival.
And so like a walking cliché, he'd become the joker.
The loudmouth obnoxious jackass joker who could make everyone laugh.
And boy had they ever all through his school years.
Up until law school anyway.
There they'd expected studious and quiet.
He'd had no idea how to make that happen.
Because in quiet there was time for reflection.
And in reflection, there was time for pain.
He tips a bottle of beer back towards his lips and lets the amber fluid flow into his mouth. It's slightly warm and not terribly good, but he gulps it down greedily.
And then wishes he had something harder around.
But long ago, though, he'd learned what the harder stuff could do to him on a night like this one.
It could make him angry and stupid.
It could make him hurt things (like walls and mirrors and hands and knuckles).
It could bring him to tears.
Which went completely against the purpose of turning himself into the joker.
Bring on the laughter not the tears.
So very Goddamned clichéd.
He reaches out and runs his fingers through Monty's mangy fur. The pup rolls over and exposes his stomach.
"Real tough, buddy," he chuckles. And then obligingly pats the dog's belly.
He thinks about the team's last mission before the holiday.
Hetty and her stupid black book.
The chase for it had almost ended up catastrophically.
Almost ended with the death of his partner.
There are moments in his life that he knows that he will never forget.
The first time he'd heard his parents scream out how much they hated each other. How much the both wished the other one would just die.
The first time his father had told him how very disappointed he was to have Marty as his son.
The first time he'd been betrayed.
He remembers hearing about the death of Jess Trainer – his partner and a woman he'd cared deeply for.
None of those had compared to the moment of seeing Kensi Blye pinned behind laser beams, her face ashy and soaked with sweat (and maybe tears).
Those other moments had all been horrific, but they'd all come together to create the man he is today.
Some days, he hates that man.
Most of the time, though, he's okay with who he is now.
A little screwed up, a little sad, a little arrogant, a little obnoxious and a whole lot funny (no matter what anyone else thinks, dammit).
But underneath all of that, he's pretty sure that he's a good man.
He hopes so anyway. He hopes that everything that life has thrown at him, and everything that he's absorbed and survived, has made him one of the good guys.
That moment in the room with Kensi, however, that hadn't been about making him a better man. That had all been about fear.
He'd let Jess down by not seeing the betrayal around them.
Deep down, when he's reasonable and rational, he understands enough to know that there was no way that he could have seen the betrayal.
No one had until it was too late for her and almost too late for him.
But Kensi, oh Kensi…
He'd let her down by letting her walk away with the Russians.
He tries to be reasonable and rational about that, too, but his mind stubbornly refuses.
It insists (even now) that he should have found a way to make them take him instead of her.
He wants to laugh.
Kensi is no damsel in distress.
Maybe she had needed saving, but normally, she's the one kicking ass and taking names.
She's the last one that he would ever push behind him to keep safe.
And yet he can't help, but wish that he'd found a way to do just that.
He reaches down and rubs at a long cut on his left forearm – a souvenir from the explosion at the stadium.
How they'd both survived that with no more than a few cuts and scrapes and bruises (he has one hell of a black and blue spot on the back of his left shoulder which had taken the brunt of the impact) is still a mystery to him.
A mystery and a miracle.
His mind is about to turn to the nature of miracles (and then maybe to memories of being dragged to Church with his Mother when he was very young) when he hears a hard knock on his front door.
Not quite sure he heard correctly, he doesn't move, just listens.
It comes again.
He puts his beer bottle down and stands up.
He thinks maybe it's Hetty come to drag him to some silly team dinner or something.
He looks down at his clothes – jeans and a white tee.
Okay. Presentable, he supposes.
He opens the door.
"You were totally checking out my ass," Kensi announces once the door is open and he's staring at her bloodied form, wide-eyed and surprised.
He blinks slowly (clearly confused) and it's almost enough to make her laugh.
"What?" he finally stammers, his eyes quickly assessing her injuries. There seems to be a good amount of blood, but very few actual wounds.
Except maybe on her arm.
"When I was going under the laser," she explains. "And my back was to you."
"Uh…" he knows that this is one of those moments when he should call on his well-honed deception skills.
And yet they're failing him now.
He can lie to hardened drug dealers and crazy pimps, but not to his partner.
"That's what I thought," she sighs. And suddenly whatever weird peppy energy had been with her when he'd opened the door is gone and all that's left is an exhausted looking woman in a shirt stained bright red.
"Kensi," he says slowly. "What the hell happened to you?"
She looks down at herself and then shrugs (wincing as she does), "It looks worse than it is. It's just a graze."
"A graze?" he repeats. "Like a gunshot graze?"
"Can we have this conversation inside your apartment?" she asks. And then suddenly pulls back. "Unless you have company…"
"No," he says quickly. And then as if remembering, "I mean, my mom already left…"
Kensi offers him a half smile and so he doesn't continue on with that lie, just steps away from the door and offers her entry.
She's been to his place several times, though never inside.
Usually, she just waits out by the street, impatiently tapping her nails against the steering wheel, knowing that he's going to make them both late.
And knowing that once again, she'll be the one who gets blamed for it.
This evening, though, she's stepping inside his personal sanctuary and it feels a bit like an invasion of his privacy.
With as much time as they all spend being everyone else but themselves, the places they have that allow for the real person to exist are sacred.
For her, it's her apartment and the NCIS OSP headquarters.
For Deeks, his apartment is clearly ground zero for the real man.
The décor is simple and manly, but not so much as to be obnoxious or showy. Here, in the quiet of his own space, he's not trying to impress anyone.
There are books and magazines everywhere. The subjects covered are many, ranging from sports to law. Each bit of reading material has clearly been at least thumbed through, some of the books showing severe signs of dog-earing.
A look over at his kitchen shows a man who enjoys super sugary cereals and the kind of snacks that you can grab and eat on the go.
Her eyes track over to the area in front of the couch where Monty is sitting, watching her, tail wagging.
"You like?" Deeks asks, slightly nervously.
She smiles, "It's nice."
She could tell him that she hadn't expected this, but figures that would lead to bickering and bantering and while she's almost always in the mood for that, tonight, she's just tired.
"You mind?" she asks, pointing to his sofa.
"No, go ahead," he replies and they're both more than a little aware of how weird and awkward this is.
Rather unceremoniously, she drops herself onto his sofa (it's comfortable, the kind you just about sink into and can't quite find a way out of). She reaches down and gives Monty a quick scratch behind his ears. Satisfied, the pup settles down into a ball at her feet.
A moment passes before he quietly asks again, "What happened to you?"
"I stopped a bad guy," she tells him simply.
"Doesn't look like you stopped him," he presses.
"But he shot you."
"Kinda," she replies. "Mostly he missed."
He doesn't miss the stubborn pride in her tone (or the fear lurking just beneath the surface).
"I'm still missing the story," he insists.
She sighs. "I went to the convenience store, I saw a man hold it up, I stopped him. It's pretty cut and dry." Her tone is brisk and impatient.
He's used to impatient with her.
Usually it starts with her snapping out his name in annoyance.
This is different, though.
This seems like the kind of impatience that's meant to change the subject.
He sits down next to her and he's got a first aide kit in his hands.
"Do you even know how to use that?" she asks.
"Sure," he grins. "Just because I'm not McGyver doesn't mean that I don't know how to patch myself up. Of course, I probably don't know how to do it using a piece of scotch tape and pencil shavings."
She rolls her eyes, but he sees the corner of her lip lift into a half-smirk.
"Uh huh, that's what I thought," he teases as he slides her sleeve upwards.
"Pencil shavings would just cause lead poisoning," she jokes back.
"Only if you jammed the shavings into the wound," he retorts. "Which is just ridiculous."
"Sure, that's what's ridiculous about using pencil shavings to treat an injury," she snorts.
"And scotch tape," he reminds her.
"No," she corrects. "I could use scotch tape."
"I bet you could," he replies. "So, uh, why didn't you go to the hospital to have this checked out."
"Didn't want to spend tonight there," she says, her voice almost inaudible and yet loaded with emotion.
He chooses not to push – she seems far too close to the emotional edge for that to be a good idea. At least not yet.
Instead, he resorts to inspecting her arm injury closer. It isn't terribly deep, but it is long. And quite bloody.
And far too damned high up on her arm.
She looks at him and understands.
"I don't like this anymore than you do," he says. "I mean, you can use my bathroom if you'd like and take care of it yourself."
She considers her options for a moment and then shrugs. Reaching across her body, she pulls at the hem of her shirt and lifts it up.
He knows that he could – and probably should – help her get her shirt off, but this already feels like something that shouldn't be happening.
So he leans back and does nothing.
Except lower his eyes.
"You can look now," she says gently. He wonders if he's imagining (or hoping for) the appreciation he hears in her tone.
He looks up, but quickly narrows his eyes to try to focus on her arm.
Not like that works or anything.
She's a beautiful woman.
In his apartment.
On his couch.
In her bra (which is white and simple).
He hopes to hell that someone somewhere is having a good laugh about this.
He leans forward and presses a disinfectant napkin to the wound on her arm.
If it hurts her (and he thinks it must from the way the damn thing is bubbling), she doesn't show it. Instead, she looks down at her arm and watches the chemical reaction. Only when he presses on the wound does she wince a bit.
"You okay?" he asks, releasing the pressure.
"Sure," she says, eyes still on the wound as he continues to clean it.
"So, what really happened tonight?"
"I told you," she says, looking up at him. There's a bit of a flare in her mismatched eyes, but he pushes right past it.
"Okay," he nods. "If that's what you want to go with."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"It's Thanksgiving, Kensi, and you were at a convenience store."
"And you're here – by yourself," she replies pointedly. "Do we really want to go down this path, Deeks?"
"Not if you don't want to," he replies. He reaches into the kit and pulls out a gauze pad. He affixes it over the wound and tapes it down.
"Good," she answers.
"But you came by here for a reason," he continues.
She opens her mouth to reply and then shuts it.
"Now I could guess that you came by for my good looks, my charm and because you've been fantasizing about me…"
He smiles. "But I'm guessing I'd be wrong."
"Yeah, you'd be wrong," she tells him. There's a slight edge to her tone and he knows she's trying to push him away.
He knows it'd be safer if her let her do it.
But something in him – some weird crazy impulse – makes him push ahead.
"So, why then? And don't say because I'm in the area. You'd have had to have walked five miles out of your way to get here."
"Can't you just leave it alone?" she asks and suddenly she sounds very weary. "Please."
It's enough to stop him in his tracks.
He retreats. "Sure."He looks down and sees Monty standing up, watching them both, suddenly seeming very anxious, like he can sense the tension.
"It's okay, boy," he says. "It's okay."
Monty whines, but settles back again, eyes still on them.
Deeks offers her back her shirt and then turns his head as she pulls it back over her head, struggling just a bit.
"Sorry," she mutters.
"It's fine," he replies, though it's clearly not.
He reaches for her face suddenly and she pulls away.
"You just…your face is bruised," he stammers out quickly. "Were you hit, too?"
"Yeah," she admits, a bit sheepishly (though he wonders what at, the admission of being hit or how quickly she'd recoiled from his touch). "He got a few hits in."
"But I'm guessing I should have seen him, right?" He tries to make his tone jovial, suddenly needing the mood in the room to be much lighter.
She smirks and he's thankful.
It's weird how much he's come to enjoy her cockiness.
Even if it drives him crazy sometimes.
"I'll get you an icepack," he says and starts to stand.
This time she's the one grabbing at him. He doesn't pull away, instead lets her take his hand and pull him back towards her.
"No, I'm fine," she insists.
"You're going to swell up," he tells her.
"It's going to swell no matter what," she sighs. "You should see the bruise on my thigh from the explosion."
He thinks about telling her about the one on his shoulder, but chooses not to.
It's one he's glad he has.
"You are insanely stubborn, you know that, right?" he says instead.
"Deeks," she says.
"Sit down and shut up, okay? Just shut up."
He drops back down next to her.
"Was your mother ever here?" she asks.
He considers his answer for a moment and then shakes his head, choosing to tell the truth. "No. She went to see my father." He chuckles. "They hate each other. They really, really hate each other."
She smiles slightly, but says nothing.
"Did you spend any time with your relatives?" he asks.
She reaches down and runs her hands throw Monty's fur. He leans up and licks her and she laughs.
Deeks watches, saying nothing. He's not sure for a moment if she's avoiding the question, but then:
"No, haven't seen them in five years. Doubt they even know where I am."
"Ah. Figure Callen is alone tonight, too?" he asks, joining her in giving Monty a good rub-down.
"Probably," she says. "But sometimes I think he prefers it that way."
And then she does something completely unexpected and leaning up away from the dog, she puts her head on her partner's shoulder.
"This isn't happening," she tells him softly.
"Which part?" he asks.
"I'm not here," she answers and he can hear the soft teasing in her tone.
"So I'm hallucinating. That makes sense."
"Clearly. Too much to drink."
"I have been drinking beer, tonight" he admits. "Coors."
She groans. "Okay, so you had two cases or so."
"I'd be on the ground."
"Not even close," she chuckles. "But we'll go with hallucinating."
"Okay," he replies. "So if I'm hallucinating, can I put an arm around you?"
"It's not that good of a hallucination," she grins.
He laughs and then slides an arm around her anyway.
They sit like that for several minutes – maybe ten, maybe twenty and then:
"Did I thank you?" she asks, taking her head off his shoulder and meeting his blue eyes with her mismatched ones.
"For what happened at the stadium."
"I told you I'd get you back," he says softly.
"Actually, I told you that you would," she reminds him.
She smiles and then drops her head back to his shoulder.
A few minutes later, he realizes that she's fallen asleep.
It's an almost amazing thing for him to see – this crazy vibrant passionate woman suddenly so quiet and peaceful.
Gently, he slides his body into the lying position, pulling her down with him. He winces slightly when his sore shoulder presses against the hard corner of the couch, but quickly adjusts them both so that they're both as comfortable as possible (she more than him likely, but he can deal with that).
He kind of knows that he should get up, cover her up and go sleep in his own room. He kind of knows that this is taking advantage of her in some way or another.
And yet he can't quite bear to have her out of his sight.
He thinks about the last week.
The insanity of Russians and lasers and little black books.
He thinks about Thanksgiving and dinners ruined by anger and fights.
He thinks about going drinking with the team and waking up with the hangover of the century.
He thinks about a moment lying on the cold cement, fire and debris all around him, Kensi leaning against him, them both laughing at the absurdity of almost being blown to pieces.
He watches the rising and falling of his partner's chest as he holds her against him now.
He's not completely sure how he became the man he is today – all he knows is that it's a sum of many parts, most of them broken, a few of them patched by together.
He has no idea how she's become the woman she is today, but he assumes that there's just as many broken (and repaired) parts inside of her.
He figures they work so well together because they get each other.
Even if neither one is quite willing to admit it.
He brushes a tendril of hair away from her closed eyes, smiles wistfully at the already blossoming bruising on her face.
His hand drops down over the couch and he scratches at Monty's ear.
He thinks about the quiet of this moment.
He usually hates the quiet because it brings on the pain.
He wouldn't give up this moment for anything.
He spends a long while just watching her, his mind turning and drifting, going both nowhere and everywhere, delving through his past and thinking about his present. Slowly, but surely the exhaustion of the past week finally overtakes him, and his eyes close.