Author's Note: Just a little late night scramble/writing exercise in dialogue - DEEP will still be updated by the end of this weekend as promised. Been trying to find the dramatic story in the recent three ep junkfood gag, and well here's my go at it. Contains spoilers for Disorder, Overwatch and well the junkfood gag as a whole. Much appreciation to my Twitter mates who keep me entertained while writing this.
And yes, for those wondering, I am a Kensi/Deeks shipper. This piece, however, is a friendship/partnership one.
He's worried about her.
She hates that.
All of the stupid and repetitive jokes lately about her suddenly over the top junk food habits, well she had naively presumed them to be just that – gentle partner to partner teasing. She should have known better.
She should have known that he had seen right through her.
In a way, that annoying habit of being able to see directly through to her soul is a Marty Deeks special.
It's almost two months after Christmas when he finally asks as they walk back to their car after interviewing a material witness in the murder of a Marine who had apparently been dealing coke on the side, "So, you going to tell me what's been bothering you lately?"
She turns her head slightly and lifts an eyebrow, "What are you talking about?"
"Uh huh. Bullshit."
"Deeks, I have no idea what you're on about. Like usual," she replies, trying to come off as innocent and confused as possible.
"Okay," he nods, and for the briefest of moments, she actually thinks that he's going to let it go.
They get into her car, her driving as usual. He waits until their in motion, and then he turns to her and says, "This has to do with him doesn't it?"
"Excuse me? Him?"
"Yeah, him. You know who I'm talking about."
"Deeks, I honestly –"
She tightens her hands on the steering wheel, her knuckles turning white as her nails dig into the molded circular leather.
"Aha," he says.
"Your hands." He indicates towards her clenched hands. She immediately forces herself to let up on the steering wheel, keeping just a couple of fingers attached to it as she turns the car towards the 405 onramp.
"I don't want to talk about this."
"At all or just with me?"
"This isn't one of those partner things, Deeks."
"No. We're work partners. We work together. We have to trust each other to have each other's back. I do. You do. That doesn't mean we need to tell each other every time someone broke our hearts or any other stupid crap like that."
He nods slowly. "I agree."
"But if that so-called stupid crap is causing one of us to lose our minds, then maybe the other partner should do something about it, right?"
"How have I lost my mind?"
"The junk food."
"You're kidding me, right?"
"No. I'm starting to get seriously worried that you're going to pass out from sugar shock one of these days."
"I'm not denying that, but I notice that you're not denying that you've got a problem."
"Uh, yes, I am. I've always had a sweet tooth," she replies defensively. She has to admit, she's a wee bit insulted by this line of questioning.
"Agreed, you have. After all, I did find the Twinkie wrappers in our car before way way before I knew about a Jack," he says, his voice taking on a gentle teasing note. It's almost like he knows that if he's going to get anywhere with this, he can't push too hard too fast.
"I'm just saying, it's gotten worse."
"It has not gotten worse."
"You know, just saying that it hasn't gotten worse doesn't make it true, right?"
"Deeks," she growls.
He laughs. Then, seeing her nearly murderous expression, he waves his hand. "Sorry, I just…well there are times when you're threatening my life – and admittedly, you do it often – where I think it's kind of funny."
"Uh, yeah in that not completely funny, but I have a really warped sense of humor kind of way, you know?" He's starting to feel a whole lot less certain about his game plan here.
It'd all seemed so simple in his head; annoy her into talking about what's clearly been gnawing away at her since Christmas Eve.
And yet now, as he stares back into his partners' mismatched dark eyes, he's beginning to wonder just what the hell he was thinking. Kensi Blye isn't the kind of woman who sheds tears easily. She's tough as nails, and tends to have no time for shows of weakness.
He'd argue with her that vulnerability every now and again isn't the same as being weak, but he figures he'd be wasting his breath.
So for now, he sticks with the plan.
For better or for worse.
"Interesting," she replies.
"Good, we both know each other's names."
She smiles widely, in almost predatory fashion, and replies, "Oh, that's not the name I'm calling you right now."
"You're annoyed with me. That's okay, I understand."
Her smile fades away to be quickly replaced by an icy glare. It's enough to destroy the strength and resolve of even the toughest of men.
Most of the time anyway.
The plan, he reminds himself, the plan.
"So Jack," he says again.
"I don't want to talk about him," she answers, deliberately stopping after each word just to ensure that she gets her point across.
She does. He slams past it.
"Too bad. Something's upsetting you and it has to do with him."
"You don't know that."
"You're not denying it anymore then you denied your sugar addiction."
"Deeks, shut up."
"That was mature."
"I'm very close to doing something that's a whole lot less mature than telling you to shut up," she warns.
"You're going to kiss me?"
"You're an idiot," she sighs.
"Maybe, but admit it, you kinda like me just the same."
"No, I don't."
"Yes, you do."
"Get out of my car."
He looks around, and notices that she's parked her car in the back lot of the Mission. "Oh. Right."
"Get out. Before I shoot you."
"Must you always talk so sweet to me?"
"I will shoot you."
"I believe you, but that's not going to stop me from asking you about Jack."
"You looked him up, didn't you?"
She says nothing, but he sees the way her jaw tightens.
"You saw something you didn't want to?"
This time, she doesn't reply at all. She just gets out of the car and violently slams the door. She's across the parking lot before he even gets his seatbelt off. He sees her enter the Mission, her dark hair flying furiously behind her.
"Oh, boy," he mutters to himself, rather wishing that he'd been wrong about Jack.
This Jack guy, well, he'd hurt her badly. And for a woman who has been shot, stabbed and beaten during her time as a Federal agent, that's saying something.
By the time he gets inside, he sees that Kensi has already seated herself behind her desk, eyes locked on her computer. He's relatively pleased to see that Callen and Sam haven't reported back from their interview assignment just yet.
He drops himself into his own seat, and pulls out his laptop. He stares at his screen for a moment, and then, without lifting his eyes, says, "Look, I don't mean to upset you –"
"You're not upsetting me," she says quickly.
"Hey, guys," Callen says as he and Sam approach from the hallway. He takes one look at the glares being shot back and forth across the bullpen, and then adds, "Everything okay here?"
"Great," Deeks tells him, echoing Kensi's previous statement.
"Couldn't be better," Kensi adds.
"Okay," Callen responds, clearly not believing either of them. "How did the interview go?"
"Fine," Kensi says.
"No problem," Deeks chimes in, at the same time as her.
"Okay, how about one at a time," Sam suggests.
"Maybe we should put them in separate corners," Callen muses.
"The interview went fine," Kensi breaks in. "Dalton doesn't know anything. He's just a grieving friend who had no idea what Jerry was up to."
"Seems to be the theme of things," Callen sighs.
"No luck on your side either?" Deeks asks.
Sam shakes his head. "None. Jerry was a great friend who would never have been involved in anything shady. In fact, he saved kittens on the weekends."
"Seriously?" Deeks asks.
"Seriously," Callen nods. "So, what's up with you two?"
Deeks considers answering honestly, but then decides that this is between the two of them. He looks across at Kensi, meets her eyes, and then shrugs. "We stopped for snacks, I bought some ho-hos and she ate them all."
She smirks, but Deeks can tell by her eyes that she hasn't forgotten their previous conversation.
Well good because he hasn't either, and as far as he's concerned, it's far from over.
"Uh huh," Callen says. "Well absent any new information, I think we're at a standstill for the night." He looks down at his watch. "It's still early. You guys want to go out and get some drinks?"
"I'm in," Deeks says quickly.
"Me, too," Sam replies.
"Kensi?" Deeks presses.
"What the hell," she sighs.
"I'll get the others," Callen says, and then steps away.
After he's gone, Sam turns to face Deeks and Kensi. "Whatever it is bugging you two, and don't bother saying there's nothing, deal with it."
And with that, he turns and walks away.
"You heard him," Deeks starts.
"I did," she nods.
"You really going to do this?"
"It's my business, Deeks. My life, my past, my business."
"And you're my partner, and I care about you."
"I wasn't done."
"Then I take back my thank you."
He laughs. "You can't."
She smiles. "Yes, I can."
"No, you can't, and I'm just saying," he tells her, "I know you're not okay."
"I am." Her tone takes on a serious almost pleading edge.
"You're not, and it's not just the junk food even if that's a big part of it. It's the aggressive serial dating –"
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"How many dates did you go on last week."
"Does it matter?"
"Four. Are you saying I'm –"
"No. Wherever you were going with that, I'd never say that. What you want to do in your love life is your -"
"Great, I'm glad we agree. Now can we drop this?"
"But, it makes me wonder what you're looking for."
"A man who knows when to shut up."
She stands up, and grabs her car keys. "Any chance you're not driving with me?"
"Probably not. You picked me up this morning."
"Right. Any chance you'll actually not annoy me?"
"I wouldn't bet on it."
She rolls her eyes and walks away from him, over towards where Hetty is.
"Is she all right?" Sam asks from behind him, causing him to jump almost a foot in the air in surprise.
"Must you do that?"
"You drink way too much coffee."
"True, but that doesn't justify sneaking up on a guy."
"Kensi, Deeks, focus, is she all right?"
"Yeah," Deeks nods. "We're just having one of our days."
"That's all this is?"
"The last eight weeks?"
"You've noticed, too?"
"G and I have worked with her for a long while now. She's family. Of course we've noticed."
"Then why haven't you said anything?"
"Because we all have our demons. We all have things we hide. You, too, Deeks."
"I'm an open book, Sam."
"Really? Why'd you drop out of law school?"
"Chicks like guys with guns more than they like guys who talk a lot."
Sam smiles tightly, letting Deeks know that he doesn't buy it for a moment.
"My point is, whatever is bothering her –"
"I think she sought out Jack."
"You do?" Callen asks, coming down the stairs.
"Yeah. And I think she found him."
"And?" Callen presses.
"I don't know. Haven't gotten that far yet."
Callen turns his head slightly, and glances over towards Hetty's office, where Kensi is standing, chatting idly with their diminutive office manager.
"Interesting," Callen notes.
"That's all you've got to say?"
Callen shrugs. "Sam's right; we all have our secrets."
"That's not good enough. You've seen how's she been. Whatever she found, it upset her, and she's been in some kind of funk. The excessive junk food, the dating, the running up the top of vans?"
"She's always been a junk food addict," Sam counters. "First time I met her she was polishing off a Hershey bar, and she's always had a weakness for doughnuts."
"And she's always been the lunatic of the group," Callen adds.
"Okay, I accept all of that, but that's not really my point. It's not just the junk food, it's that it seems like it's become comfort food, you know?"
"I think you're stretching things a bit here, Deeks," Callen suggests.
"Maybe, but what about the dating?"
"She's always been a serial dater. And usually an unsuccessful one."
"That usually suggests someone is choosing the wrong kind of guy, right? And what you call her being a lunatic, there's taking chances and there's –"
"Deeks, let me give you a suggestion," Sam says. "Stop looking at the symptoms. You're probably right, and she is upset over whatever she found. And maybe they're causing her normal vices to stand out a bit more. Focus on the root."
"Let us know if you need anything," Callen says.
"You driving with me?" Sam asks Callen.
"Yeah. The others will join us over at the bar in about a half hour."
Sam nods, starting towards the exit, Callen next to him. Deeks can hear them arguing about the Laker game from the previous evening.
"You ready?" Kensi asks as she comes back over to him.
They're almost to the bar before Deeks turns to look at her and says softly, "We are going to talk about this."
"Isn't that what you want to hear?"
"Yes or no, Deeks? Because I can save myself a lot of time and trouble if we just skip this conversation completely, but if you're not going to let me, then let's just get it over with, okay?"
"Great. Ask your question."
"Did you find Jack?"
"Was he all right?"
"Was he…still…like he was?"
"You mean a head case with PTSD?" there's a hint of bitterness in her voice.
"Not that I could tell, but it's not like I was watching him for a long time."
"Did you speak to him?"
"Kensi, what did you find?"
She says nothing, just stares ahead at the street, the oncoming lights from the opposite direction occasionally illuminating her face.
"He's married," she finally answers, almost inaudibly.
"He has two children. A boy and a girl. And a beautiful wife."
"No, it's not, but there's nothing I can do about it. I wasn't enough for him. I didn't take care of him. I didn't protect him. He found someone who could and would."
"I'm sorry," he says again.
"Stop saying that."
"There's nothing to be sorry about."
"You're hurt. I'm sorry for that."
She parks the car and then turns her head and looks at him, dark eyes wide and confused. "Why?"
"Why don't you understand this whole partnership thing?" he asks. "I mean it's not like I'm the first partner you've ever had."
"No, I've had many partners. And not just with NCIS. Before that in my other…jobs. But none of them were like you."
"Justified," she shoots back.
"Maybe, but you have to admit, you can't imagine not having me here to brighten up your days."
"I don't know that I'd call it brightening."
"Kensi, come on, partner, truth time."
"Fine, I'd miss you if you weren't around."
"See, now was that so hard?"
"Like pulling teeth with a string."
"You totally did that to yourself, didn't you?"
"That's a yes."
"Shut up, Deeks."
He laughs. "You say that far too much, you know that?"
"You talk far too much, you know that?"
"And on the talking note, I think you should have talked to Jack."
She sombers up, realizing that they're returning to this conversation. "Why?"
"Because you're clearly unresolved about him, and until you aren't, you're never going to be able to move on, which means four losers a week."
"There's nothing to say to him. My issues aren't his. He's moved on. I owe him –"
"You don't owe him anything."
"After how I couldn't help him, I owe him the chance to have a good life." Her voice catches when she says this, and the second half of the sentence comes out pretty much whispered.
"I don't get you," he says, shaking his head. "How could you think that you let him down? How could you think –"
"I want a drink."
"So now this conversation is over?"
"You know I'm going to bring up again, right?"
"Any chance you won't?"
"Then can you at least wait a few days?"
"Sure, I can do that."
"As long as you're okay."
"Then do me a favor?"
"If you're ask me to stop eating doughnuts, I'm going to kick you in the –"
"No, no," he says quickly. "And thank you by the way for that painfully violent visual. No, my request was for you to tone down the crazy just a notch."
"You know, the jumping in front of cars and running on top of vans part."
"That's just me, Deeks. Has nothing to do with Jack."
He shakes his head and walks towards the bar with her. Just before they head inside, he reaches out and touches her arm.
"What?" she asks.
"He's an idiot."
"You don't have to say that."
"No, I don't, but he is. And if you ever try to hold this over me, I'll deny it, but you are one hell of a woman, and he's an idiot to have left you and he's an idiot to think anyone could be…" he shrugs. "You know."
"Yeah." And with that, she steps forward and wraps her arms around her partner, hugging him to her.
For a moment, he's caught completely off-guard. Kensi has always been a person who likes to touch a lot – it's not unusual for her to grab his arm or touch his shoulder as she's walking by, but this is completely different.
"What's this for?"
"Don't make too much of it," she says softly, her breath soft on his neck.
"Thank you." He feels her arms tighten around him.
"I meant it," he tells her.
"I know." She gives one last squeeze, and then pulls away from him. "That didn't happen," she tells him.
He smirks. "Oh, yes it did. You just jumped me. My hot, beautiful, wonderful bod."
"Maybe, but who are they going to believe?"
"Me. Always me."
"Yeah, probably." He opens the door to the bar. "You're buying tonight?"
"Didn't I buy last time?"
"Yes, but I was the comforting and understanding partner. That makes the drink buying your responsibility."
His only response is a wide grin.
They step inside and immediately catch the attention of Sam and Callen, who are standing next to the bar, getting pitchers of beer. Both men look over, Callen's eyes sweeping across Kensi, and Sam looking at Deeks for confirmation that everything is all right.
"You think we should screaming at each other, freak them out?" Deeks asks.
She shrugs. "Nah, I kinda like you right now."
"I'm going to remember you said that."
"I'll deny it."
"Doesn't matter. My brain is like a lockbox."
She rolls her eyes, gives him a quick jab to the side with her elbow, and then walks away from her, over towards Callen and Sam. She slides an arm over each of them, immediately calming both of them.
Deeks watches from a few steps away, smiling slightly.
He's pretty sure that the issue is far from resolved, but at least now that he knows what's bothering her, now maybe he can help her deal with it.
Sam is right; they all have their demons and he's in no hurry to explain to anyone why he chose to drop out of law school. He knows that eventually, he'll have to face that, and he's pretty sure that he'll have to do it in front of the team – in front of her. But that's for another day.
For this day, it feels important to him that she's all right.
He crosses over to the others, picks up a mug of beer, takes a hefty swig and then says, "What the hell kind of beer is this?"
"It's imported," Callen replies.
"Way out of his league," Kensi puts in. "He's used to beer that tastes like piss water."
"Nice," he laugh, and then takes another swig. His eyes meet Kensi's and she grins at him, looking like she doesn't have a care in the world.
He doesn't buy it for a minute, but it's good to see just the same.
Because even though he's still not completely sure that he knows why it matters so much to him, he knows that the grin on her face, the loud echoing laugh, well both of those thing mean that for now at least, she's all right.
Which, he supposes, is good enough for tonight.