Title – I figured you always knew

Author: Ceindreadh
Genre: hurt/comfort, angst, post ep
Characters: Deeks, Hetty

Rating: T
Summary: post ep to Personal, he'd figured she'd always known, but was afraid that she hadn't, and would treat him differently when she found out.

Warnings: none

Spoilers: Up to and including S2 ep 17, Personal
Disclaimer. I don't own the NCIS LA characters, I'm only borrowing them, no copyright infringement is intended.

"I figured you always knew"

That wasn't entirely true, thought Deeks as he lay there watching Hetty. He'd hoped she knew, hoped that she'd known all along and had still felt him worthy to be part of her team.

A part of him had always been afraid that she *hadn't* known, that somehow the research in that detailed file that she'd shown him almost a year ago had managed to overlook that stain on his record.

When she'd shown him his file, Deeks had only checked it briefly; enough to know that Miss Hetty Lange certainly did her homework. He had deliberately avoided going through it too thoroughly, hoping that she'd known about his father, knowing that if she *hadn't*, he'd have been obligated to tell her what had happened so many years ago. After all, she would have deserved to know what sort of person she was letting loose among her team. At that point, he'd managed to convince himself that if Hetty knew about his past, she'd have retracted the offer of the liaison position, and he wanted that place, wanted it badly.

He'd seen how the team worked together, how they'd had each other's backs, hardly needing to say a word yet still functioning like a well-oiled machine.

It had been a long time since Deeks had worked with such a close knit bunch – even if he had been on the opposite side of the table to them. Undercover work was by nature a solitary occupation for the most part.

But these guys, even when they were undercover, they were never really alone. Like family almost, well, the real type of family, like the Waltons maybe, and not the dysfunctional mess he'd grown up in.

So Deeks had kept his mouth shut, hoping that Hetty already knew and was still willing to take a chance on him, but praying that if she didn't already know, then maybe by the time she'd find out, maybe just maybe he'd have proven himself enough for her to let him put his past behind him.

'Gordon John Brandel', Deeks never thought he'd have to utter those words again in his life. The only reason he'd even left the guy's name as his next of kin had been an L.A.P.D requirement that *somebody* be appointed. So he'd put down Brandel, sure in the knowledge that so many years later he was unlikely to be ever tracked down. It was easier to just give the name rather than explaining why not.

And then had come the shooting and the questions about his next of kin. Deeks had avoided the issue with Kensi, and for a wonder she'd let it slide, being too wrapped up in the case to push him further. Or maybe he'd just looked sufficiently pathetic lying there in the hospital bed with tubes and machines and bandages all over.

When the news came down that he'd been specifically targeted and the shooters had tried to finish the job, Deeks had known that it would only be a matter of time before somebody had the bright idea of looking through his back catalogue to see if there was somebody he'd wronged enough that they'd go to all this trouble for revenge.

Brandel's name hadn't been on the original list which was no surprise. Nobody at L.A.P.D. had any idea that he was anything more than a name on a personnel file. Even if they had known what Deeks had had to do to him, it was unlikely that twenty years later he'd be considered a credible threat.

But they hadn't seen the cold look in Brandel's eyes as he had taken aim with the shotgun. They hadn't seen the venom in his voice as he'd lain bleeding on the floor, cursing the son who'd dared to defy him.

Now that Deeks knew for himself just how painful a gunshot wound could be, he could almost feel sympathy for Brandel. But back then, all he'd felt had been relief that the nightmare had been stopped, and guilt at what he'd had to do to stop it.

As soon as Kensi had produced the list of suspects, Deeks had known that he'd have to add Brandel's name to it, no matter what the cost would be to him personally. He'd known that once the truth came out, the team would look at him differently. How could they not?

Kensi, bless her, Deeks had seen her bite down on the obvious question as to why an eleven year old kid had shot somebody. She had known that the 'why' of the grudge wasn't as important at that point as the fact that the grudge existed.

He knew though that it could only be a temporary reprieve. Sooner or later, once the case had been settled, Deeks knew that Kensi would bring up the subject again. Hell, he'd do it himself if the positions were reversed. Maybe he'd been lucky then that he'd popped his stitches running or to be more accurate, staggering to her assistance. When your partner is collapsed on the ground, blood leaking through his bandages, it's not the best time to discuss past events.

Hetty however was always going to be another matter. Deeks had known that Nell would do her job and report to Hetty about the potential suspect pool. He knew that Brandel's name was on Hetty's paperwork as his next of kin. If she hadn't already known, now was going to be the time for her to put two and two together.

"I figured you always knew."

Deeks had to fight hard to keep his voice from shaking as he said the words.

"You figured correctly."

Again it was all Deeks could do to stop from sighing with relief. But a part of him still worried that maybe they were talking at cross purposes. Maybe Hetty still didn't know the full story. After all this time though, he was tired…tired of the constant worry that he'd be found out. He needed to clear the air, once and for all.

"I was eleven when I shot him."

There was no sudden gasp of shock, no sound, no movement to show that this was news to Hetty. "He was wielding a shotgun."

"Yeah," said Deeks. Many times since that day, he'd taken down people who were armed and aiming at him and had done it without hurting them…much. Shooting should have been a last resort, not a first…especially when it had been his father. Surely Hetty understood that?

"It was self-defense." Deeks heard Hetty sigh before she continued, "He was incarcerated in Folsom State Prison, paroled in 1996 after serving five years of a seven year sentence."

"You found him?" This time Deeks couldn't hide his fear. Please God let Hetty be mistaken, he thought. Maybe this was going to turn out like some cheesy talk show and the next thing Hetty was going to announce that Brandel was right outside just waiting to meet him.

"Yes, I found him."

Deeks watched as Hetty stood up and placed a file on his table. "He died in 1998…auto accident."

Deeks couldn't stop the sigh of relief from escaping. He hardly dared believe it was true, that Brandel was gone forever and could never hurt him again. If it had been anybody other than Hetty telling him, he wasn't sure he'd have believed it without seeing a body. But he knew Hetty, trusted her implicitly, and if she said Brandel was dead, then that was it, the man was gone from his life forever.

Hetty was almost to the door before Deeks managed to pull himself together and call after her. "Hospital admin asked me for my next of kin. Who, ah, who should I put down?" He could have taken the easy way out. Put down Brandel's name yet again, this time secure in the knowledge that he would never be contactable. But he was just so tired and right now he wanted to know that there was somebody in his corner. He'd thought that maybe Hetty would give him the name of somebody in N.C.I.S. admin, whose job it was to keep track of undercover agents. Or maybe she'd give him one of her many aliases. A placeholder name that would enable her to be contacted if necessary, but would be an added layer of security against her enemies.

"Lange, Henrietta…"

This time Deeks didn't even try to hide his feelings. He felt tears prick at his eyes as he reached for a pen to fill in the name. Before he had more than a few letters laboriously printed, he felt a hand on his arm. "Allow me," he heard Hetty say as she took the pen and form from him.

"Thank you," said Deeks, softly. It was such a tiny phrase, that didn't seem adequate for the gratitude he felt towards that woman right now. The knowledge that for the first time in years, he had somebody who would look out for him of their own free will, and not because they'd been randomly assigned to have his back, made him feel safer than he'd felt since the first time his father had raised a hand against him in anger. It wasn't that he didn't trust the others, Kensi and Sam and G. They'd proven over and over that as part of their team, they'd always have his back, and expected him to return the favor. Deeks couldn't explain why Hetty's offer meant so much more to him right now, but it did. That she'd known what he'd done to his father and had *still* made the offer…Deeks could almost believe that maybe she was right about him not having had a choice.

Deeks watched as Hetty completed the form. "I'll drop this in to hospital admin when I leave," she said, before sitting back down. "Go to sleep, Mr. Deeks. You need your rest."

"You're staying?" Deeks fought to keep his eyes open but it was a losing battle. The last thing he heard before he fell back to sleep was Hetty's voice saying, "Good night, Mr. Deeks."

When Deeks woke the next morning, if it hadn't been for the file on his table he might have thought he'd dreamed the whole thing. That and the feeling that though he was on his own in the room, he now knew that he was no longer alone.

The end