Hey all - this is a post PERSONAL piece, potentially the first of a couple. It's just another conversation between Kensi and Deeks. For those curious about DEEP, look for an update coming late this weekend. Comments are, of course, always welcomed and appreciated.
The clock on the wall of his private hospital room reads eleven-twenty in the morning. The curtains are drawn over the windows, but that's probably okay considering that it's not a typical bright and sunny Los Angeles day – in fact, it's a downright overcast one. The weather guy on KTLA says it probably won't rain, but it will be cold and windy.
He figures that that's okay, though, because, as much as he loves the sun (and the surf and the beautiful that tends to come with both of those things), Marty Deeks has a quiet and somewhat understated love for the melancholy as well.
Normally, on a day like this, if he didn't have (and that's a curious word to him these days – "have") to be at work, he'd be kicked back into his almost ten-year-old beat-to-hell sofa, reading a book or playing a video game. In short, doing something quiet and mellow.
But no, that's not to be on this chilly Southern California morning.
On this morning, ten days after taking two bullets to the chest just so that he could be used as bait to lure his partner out of hiding, he's still in a hospital bed.
Mostly thanks to his rather fantastic (if he does say so himself and he does, he really, really does) save of said partner.
Speaking of said partner, he looks up as Kensi Blye enters the room, dressed in jeans, and a dark gray hoodie. Her hair is pulled back into a ponytail, but it's slightly askew thanks to her walk from the parking lot to the hospital.
"Hey," she says with a bright smile. If he didn't know her better, didn't know how tightly wound she really was, he might even call it a carefree smile.
"Hey." He watches as she drops herself down into the chair next to his bed, and then adds in an intentionally light tone, "You know you don't have to keep coming to visit me, right? I mean not every day anyway."
She doesn't quite know how to respond to that so for a moment, she simply doesn't. Instead, she reaches for the half-eaten tray of food in front of him. She picks up the empty carton of Jello, and using just her pointer finger inside the empty cup, turns it around on the table a couple of times.
"I ate it already. It was cherry today," he tells her with a smile.
She grunts. "Hate cherry anyway." It's cute and just a little bit petulant. He decides – probably wisely – not to point out either to her.
She had, after all, threatened just a few days earlier to punch him in his bullet hole. Or to shoot him.
Yeah, his partner is a crazy and violent woman.
She's kind of awesome that way, he thinks.
Even if that means that he spends a good amount of time wondering if she's about to do him immense bodily harm because he took a joke a step too far.
"So?" he presses after almost a minute of silence.
"Why are you here?"
"I can leave if you want me to." She starts to rise, but her motions are slow, and he can tell that she really doesn't want to go.
"Kensi. Come on, out with it. What's on your mind?"
"I'm your partner, Deeks," she replies, sitting back down. "I'm just making sure you're okay. That's it. Don't make too much of it."
"Okay, fine, I won't. But here's the thing, right? You know I'm okay. You've been here every day, you've been checking in with the doctors more than I've been."
"Sure," she says softly, uneasily.
He sees her move in the chair just a bit, looking slightly uncomfortable. He doesn't let that stop him. "You know that I'll be released by the end of the week."
"So am I not allowed to see you until then? Because, that's fine –"
"That's not what I said. I'm just…don't get me wrong, Kensi, I appreciate you coming to see me. There's no one else here…"
"Besides Debbie the nurse, you mean?" He knows that she's trying steer them into a different lane, and he knows that it's dangerous to let her do so, but he can't help but play along. Especially if it'll lighten the mood.
"Married," he replies, trying to shrug it off.
"Married," she repeats, and he can see a smile forming.
"With five kids."
"You find that funny?" He's pretending to be hurt, but really, this is exactly the reaction he was hoping for. He's sure she knows he's manipulating her along, but he's just as sure that she allows it because this – their back and forth banter – it's comfortable and safe and what's going on in her head right now is anything but.
"A little bit," she replies, the smile widening.
"You know what? I was wrong about you."
"How's that?" she asks, genuinely curious.
"You do have a sense of humor. A very warped and disturbed one."
"Thank you. I think."
"You're welcome. Maybe." He shifts in the bed, wincing slightly. The doctors say he's doing much better – hence the promise of release at the end of the week – but he still feels like his chest is on fire. Every movement seems to send shockwaves surging through him. "So, lest you think I'm that easily distracted…"
"You are," she smirks. "You are a man."
"Ah, so we're in the man-hating portion of the month."
"I don't hate men," she protests. "I just don't have much use for them."
It's too easy, and he knows that he should just let her get slide, but he can't. Instead, he grins. She immediately realizes what she'd said, and how he'd chosen to take it. To his great amusement, she actually blushes.
"That's not what…you know…I should go."
He holds up his hands in surrender, but can't quite wipe away the smile on his face. "No, don't go. Come on."
"No more jokes like that." She's pouting, just slightly, which tells him that she's amused, and he's in no danger of her actually leaving.
"I promise," he tells her. "But just so you know, you brought that on yourself."
"I said I promised. Now, rewinding, out with it. Why are you here every day? Or more to the point, what's on your mind?"
She briefly considers again stonewalling and asking him what he's talking about, but really, what's the point? They'll just inevitably – after a bit more banter – cycle back around to it again anyway. She sighs. "You were right."
"I like the sound of that," he tells her as he adjusts himself in the bed. He's just about done with lying completely on his back; he's more of a side kind of guy.
"Shut up a second, would you, please?" There's a hint of exasperation in her voice, but it's gentle and not yet irritation. Funny, he thinks, how well he's learned her levels of annoyance.
"Not really a strong suit of mine to be honest," he shrugs.
"I know. God, I know." She shakes her head "Look, this whole thing, what happened a few days ago, I haven't been able to stop thinking about it."
"The whole thing," she says again, a small smile lifting her lips.
"There's that warped sense of humor again."
"There's the interrupting again."
"Technically I wasn't interrupting, but please, go on."
She shoots him what she hopes is an icy glare (but she guesses is probably more like a bemused exasperated gaze) and then pushes on, "I've been running the Mastin case through my head over and over. You and I, we work the case and we protect Joshua and his mother. No problem, right?"
"Right. And then you took care of moving and relocating them. I never saw any of the paperwork. Remember, I'm just a cop, you're the big bad Fed."
She ignores him, lost in her own thoughts. "In order to find his son, Vakar sets up this incredibly intricate plan up where they essentially flush me out to…to do what?" Her voice goes down at the end of the sentence.
"You want to know what they were going to do to you or do you want to know what they wanted from you?" he asks quietly.
She shakes her head, and he can tell that she's trying to be tough and strong (which really, she doesn't have to actually try at), but the tightening of her jaw and the sudden rigid nature of her posture betrays her. Those two things together – plus the knowledge of her that he's gained after almost six months of working with her – tell him that she's scared.
He kind of hates that.
"I know what they wanted from me, and I think I know what they would have…" she stops, as if getting herself – and her voice – under control. Still, there's a bit of tremble he hears when she continues. "I know what they were going to do to me. At least, I have some idea." She lets out a small humorless chuckle, and he wonders if they're both thinking the same horrible thing.
About what terrible men can do to women – especially strong and defiant women – when they want – no, need – to break them.
The thought – the very idea – of someone doing that to her is just about enough to make him want to throw up his half-eaten lunch. Cherry Jello and all.
He watches as she lifts a hand to her lips, and nips lightly – completely without realizing it – at the tip of one of her thumb. It's one of her rather adorable nervous quirks, but he's smart enough not to point it out.
"Okay…" he finally prompts again, not entirely sure he wants to go down this path, but thinking maybe they're too far down it now to just turn back now.
"It's weird," she says, "I mean, I've thought a little bit about what they would do, but mostly, I've wondered what I would do."
"I don't understand."
She looks up at him, and he gets the sense that they're about to share one of those rare moments of absolute honesty between them. She licks her lips and then says, her voice low and just barely audible, "I have…I have no idea where Joshua and his mother are, where they disappeared to, but I wonder if I did know and Vakar had gotten me, I wonder if I would have talked."
"There's no way you could know," he says.
He can immediately tell by the way she looks away from him that that's not the answer that she wanted or needed to hear.
He curses silently, thinking back to just a few days earlier when he'd been verbalizing his irritation at himself for being so easily tracked (he doesn't bother adding onto that conversation – at least not out loud. To himself, his self- condemnation of his sloppiness has only increased. After all, they had used him to try to get to her and that bothers him a whole lot more than he cares to admit). The point is, though, on that day, she had immediately sought to reassure him, to tell him not to be so hard on himself. She had offered him comfort.
Now, as she sits next to his bedside, clearly troubled (though he suspects by much more than just the worry of what she might or might not have said had she been kidnapped) he realizes that he had failed to answer in kind.
"Yeah," she says quietly, and now she's looking down at the ground. It's one of her tells, the one she falls back on when she's nervous, uncomfortable or even ashamed. He wonders which one she's feeling now.
"Wait," he backpedals frantically. "That came out completely wrong."
She looks up at him, and he thinks maybe he sees a spark of hope in her eyes. Or maybe he's imagining it. Either way, eyebrow lifted, she says, "How's that?"
"What I meant to say was, you are a ridiculous badass. What I said earlier about you being Wonder Woman? Well, it wasn't just a well-timed comic book reference, though, I mean it was that, but it was also the truth. If anyone could get the shit beat of them by a pack of scumbag losers, spit out blood, crack a really lame joke and then still refuse to give up the goods, I'd have to believe it'd be you, Kensi."
She's incredibly touched, and for a moment, unable to speak (or even challenge his comment about her making lame jokes). Instead, she focuses her eyes back on the tray of food in front of him. She reaches out and moves the plate around, then picks up the fork and taps it against the tray.
"Kensi?" he asks softly.
"I…uh…thank you." He notices that she's refusing to look up at him.
"Did I…have you upset you?" he asks, confusion and uncertainty in his voice.
"No," she says, almost gruffly. She stands up and turns away from him, like she's doing a quick pace of the room, but he thinks maybe she's choosing to hide her face – maybe even her dark eyes – from him.
He wonders what Kensi Blye looks like when she's crying.
He thinks back to watching her talk to Talbot, seeing her wipe at her eyes, smearing mascara slightly around. She'd been bothered then.
She's clearly bothered now.
Yeah, he doesn't just kind of hate that – he really hates that.
"Then what's going on in your head?"
He sees her shrug her shoulders. She's right next to the window. He's not surprised when he sees her reach out and push the curtains back.
"Nice day," she says softly.
"If you like the gloom."
"Sometimes I do."
He's about to prompt her again, but stops himself. Instead, he decides to wait her out. If she wants to talk to him, she will. If she doesn't, pushing her won't make any difference – she's been keeping a lot of pain (and loss) locked away inside of her for a very long time, and like she'd suggested a few days earlier – maybe the reveals between them should come slowly.
"I've been doing this job awhile," she says after almost five minutes.
"I thought I heard that you started with NCIS about three years ago?"
"I did. There was other work before that."
He can tell that she doesn't plan to elaborate – at least not in-depth.
"Was that where you got shot?"
Even though he can't see her face, he can tell she's smiling.
That's a start, he thinks.
"Point is, Deeks, I've stared down some pretty mean bastards."
"Yes, you have. And probably put them in the ground nine times out of ten."
"Yeah. I've also been grabbed a few times."
"I've been there for two of them."
She doesn't reply to that, but he wonders if she's thinking about the Russians and the lasers or the terrorist and the knife to her throat.
"I'm just saying," she finally finishes, "I've been around the block a time or two."
He sees one of her hands lift towards her face, but he can't tell what she's doing. She might be pushing hair away, or itching a scratch or maybe she's wiping tears. Whatever she's doing, he thinks maybe she doesn't want him to see.
Or maybe he's imagining that.
In any case, his concern for her (ironic really when he considers that he's the one lying in a hospital bed with two partially healed holes in his chest) keeps him from cracking the obvious joke about her "around the block" comment.
Apparently, she notices, because she dryly comments, "What, no witty response? You're losing your touch, Deeks."
"No, it was just too easy. Plus, there was nothing I could say there that wouldn't have gotten me hit."
She turns back to face him, and it occurs to him for the first time that she's not wearing mascara. Still, he's certain there's dampness around her eyes. Before he can even think to comment on it, though, she smiles and he quite literally feels for a moment like he can't breathe.
That she's a beautiful woman is news to no one – especially not himself. That there are moments when she looks something more than stunning, usually when she's just a little bit upset, but trying to push through it – well that is a surprise.
Right now, she's smiling, but he can see so much pained emotion beneath the mask she's thrown on. She might be amused with him, but it's still a cover for whatever she can't stop thinking about.
And yet, even seeing her with conflicting emotions written all across her face, he thinks that maybe she's never looked more amazing.
"They have given me some good drugs," he laughs, realizing that she caught him staring at her. "Some very very good drugs."
For a moment, she looks unconvinced (and perhaps a bit exposed), and her leveled gaze makes him more than a little bit nervous (and a whole lot exposed).
But then, slowly she nods. He exhales – crisis (moderately humorous or otherwise) averted. She drops herself back in the chair next to his bed, and starts playing with his food tray again.
After another long spell of silence, he realizes that she's decided to again close up. Wherever she was going before, she's not going there now.
"Kensi, look, partner, if you want to stay and just watch soap operas with me or talk about who the biggest badass in the DC Universe is, I won't say no, but I don't think that's why you're here sitting next to my bed every day." Then, tilting his head and smiling impishly, he adds, "Unless you're just hear to check out my super manly chest. In which case, no more explanation needed."
"Thanks for that," he laughs.
She smiles, and then lets out a breath. "I'm here every day, Deeks, because I don't think you should be alone," she says, and he thinks that maybe there's more than a little bit of truth (though not the whole of it) in what she's saying. "If it were me in that bed," she continues, "I wouldn't want to be here alone."
It's hard for her to push that out, it feels a bit too much like exposing her soul to him. She's an incredibly self-sufficient woman, but there are times – usually at the end of the night and after the team has scattered off to their own lives (the ones they never talk about and almost never share real details about) when she realizes that beyond work, she has very little that's real or substantial.
And God if that doesn't scare the hell out of her.
So some nights, she goes to bars and has a drink or two.
Some nights, that's enough to push back the loneliness.
Other nights, she accepts the advances of the first non-threatening and somewhat attractive man who hits on her. She gauges him and tries to make sure that she won't need to pistol-whip him by the end of the night. Sometimes, she's able to leave it at just a dance or two and some light conversation.
Sometimes, though, she needs more. Sometimes, she needs nothing less than a physical connection. Anything to not be alone for a few hours.
By the time morning comes, she always feels just a little bit ashamed of the desperate acts of the night before, and she's always more than a little bit thankful for the rising of the sun over the San Fernando Valley.
And to her surprise, her partner – the constantly insufferable Marty Deeks – is a big, big reason for why she looks forward to the start of every workday.
Because when she's around him – and dammit if she doesn't hate to admit this, even to herself – she doesn't feel nearly as lonely.
None of which she can find a way to make him understand. Not that she's completely sure she wants him to anyway.
Just the same, she feels the need to try explain herself, if only a little.
"I'd want…I'd want someone near. If only to be there," she finishes. "I figured maybe you might be the same way." There's a stark vulnerability to her voice, and it cuts him deep.
He leans forward in the bed so that he's as close to her physically as he can manage to get. "I appreciate that," he tells her, and he means it.
He doesn't have much in his life beyond the job – it's why he's a great cop, because he can dedicate every part of himself to it. At the end of the night, though, he still comes home to a dramatically under-furnished apartment and a mangy mostly disinterested dog who sleeps way too much.
He'd been wary during the prior Spring when Hetty had recruited him. It had seemed a bit like the LAPD had just been looking for a way to make him go away, and the government had come to their rescue.
Now, he thinks that maybe becoming the liaison between NCIS and the LAPD (though to be honest, even that's in name only – he's far more NCIS than he is LAPD these days) was the best thing that has ever happened to him.
And this woman – this amazingly beautiful and absurdly screwed up woman with a wacked sense of humor and the balls of a bull – well she's a big reason why.
She nods slowly, and for a moment, silence once again hangs uncomfortably in the air. There feels like there's so much that they need to say – want to say – maybe not exactly to each other, but to someone and really, who better?
And yet neither speaks.
Once it's gotten almost awkward how quiet it is, she says softly, "You probably want to sleep. I should –"
"I'm sorry," he interrupts.
"My sloppiness. They tracked me, they used me and they almost got to you."
"And once again, you saved me. He was about to kill me."
"I don't think so."
"You don't think you saved me?"
"No, I'm certain I saved you. I was downright Christopher Reeves heroic there."
"Might be overselling yourself," she says with a small smirk. It doesn't quite reach her eyes, but he'll take it just the same. He realized a long time ago that he actually kind of adores her cockiness – it's reassuring.
"Perhaps. But what I'm saying is, if he was going to shoot you, he wasn't about to aim to kill."
She considers that for a moment, and it's strange because ever since the day of the attack, she's been wondering what it would have been like if Vakar's men had succeeded in abducting her, but for whatever reason, she had never considered that Vakar had intended to shoot her and still leave her alive long enough to tell him where she'd hidden the Mastins.
She thinks about bleeding out from a gunshot wound all while being asked to tell a lunatic where to find his hidden child.
It's chilling and it scares her all the way down to her core.
She doesn't hide it well at all, and for a moment, she looks like she might suddenly just completely break down.
"We stopped them, though," Deeks says quickly because he suddenly realizes that even though he'd wondered what it'd be like to see Kensi cry, he doesn't actually ever want to see it. "I shot Vakar, and you handled the other two. You and me, Kensi, we're a team, and we took them out. We rocked their worlds and kicked their asses. Like we always do. You and me. Me and you."
That's all it takes; with a smile of gratitude and a slight uncomfortable laugh, she pulls herself back together. A hand sweeps up to push her away from her eyes and flicks away stray moisture as it does.
"So," she says, changing the subject. "Have you and Sam talked yet?"
He groans. "Try a three hour lecture on security protocols and trade craft. All the way down to telling me that I need to change up what I eat and drink because it's too predictable and someone could put poison in my coffee, and know I'd drink it and then I'd be dead. I mean really, come on."
"What about your doughnuts. It's predictable that you eat those."
"Ignoring the obvious crack about my junk food habits, I'll have you know that I know at least a dozen different places around Los Angeles to get them at all hours of the week. Never go to the same one more than twice a month."
"You telling me you find a place that makes the greatest Boston Cream ever, and you'll go to a place with one that's just eh instead just to be safe?"
"I might buy a dozen every two weeks from the good place," she smirks.
"And go through each dozen in a day, which brings us back to the original problem. Which I'm not sure actually what the original problem is – your doughnut obsession or your Twinkie one."
The smirk falls away. "I'm going to find your weakness," she promises. "And then I will never let you forget."
"I wouldn't expect any different," he tells her. "But it's going to take you awhile to figure out what really means something to me."
He realizes that what he'd just said was rather loaded, but if she does, she doesn't let on. Instead, she shoots back, "I'll kidnap your dog."
"Oh! And there's that warped Kensi Blye sense of humor again. For the win."
She grins at him, and he thinks – in a decidedly unsafe and completely platonic kind of way – that whomever the bastard is who eventually gets to wake up every morning to that smile is a lucky one indeed.
"You're staring again," she says, this time verbalizing what they both knew he'd done previously – and is doing again.
"No, I'm just tired," he says, and he's only partially lying. Being stuck in a bed is more exhausting than one might think. It's boring and he's constantly restless. On the other hand, every time he tries to get up and move around, not only does he get icy glares from the nurses, but it also hurts like hell. So lying down it is.
"Okay," she says. "Then I'll let you sleep." She takes half a step towards the door of the room.
"You don't have to go," he says quietly, hoping it doesn't come off as pleading.
"Just ten minutes ago you were telling me I didn't need to be here."
"I'm glad you are."
"You're trying to find out where I got shot aren't you?"
He laughs. "What?"
She looks at him suspiciously, but it's clear that she's at least somewhat amused. "You're not…at all?"
"I'm not saying don't tell me, but that's not why I said that. I genuinely like your company, okay?"
"Okay, but I'm still not telling you."
"You'll tell me."
"You're very confident of that."
"I'm a very confident guy."
"You're something, that's for sure."
"Uh huh. You staying or going, partner?"
She looks at him for a long moment, visibly torn. Then, softly, "I'm going."
"But I'll be back tomorrow. Assuming you have Jello waiting, that is."
"Lime Jello will be here."
"Good, then so will I."
They meet eyes again, for a long moment, and then she turns and heads for the door. She's about through it when he calls out, "You shot yourself didn't you?"
She turns back to face him, lifts an eyebrow and then says, "No."
And with that – and a maddening smirk that seems to suggest that she won this round (he kind of figures that she did, though he's not completely sure how she did) – she turns and leaves.
He sighs and falls back against his pillows, wincing slightly.
He thinks about the conversation they'd just had, and he wonders what it had all been about. She'd clearly been bothered by what almost happened, but as with all things Kensi, it seemed like so much more was lurking beneath the surface.
Doubt? Fear? Guilt?
He's not sure.
He wishes he could have helped more, but then again, he's not completely sure that she wanted him to help. He thinks about a fight with a former girlfriend, and how she'd been so angry at him for always trying to solve all of her problems. She'd yelled that sometimes, she just wanted him to listen.
Maybe that's what this had been.
In which case, maybe he's glad he hadn't solved any of her problems because maybe she hadn't wanted him to?
He shakes his head; yeah, that doesn't really make much sense to him.
But then again, Kensi Blye rarely makes sense to him.
He thinks he likes it that way.