Personal Questions

An NCIS: Los Angeles Fanfiction


Maxie Kay

It hurts. Sweet Jesus, it hurts!

Struggling upwards through the mists of confusion, peeling back the layers of heaviness that press down upon him, he struggles to open his eyes as the pain rises. And there she is, sitting at the side of his bed, so he knows he cannot let the moan of pain leave his lips.

Oh God, it hurts so much. Make it stop, please make it stop. Make her go away so I can scream.

"Am I dead?" The pains in his chest feel like several devils are prodding him with red hot pokers, and he feels like he's in hell. "I figure I must be dead."

Marty is only aware that he has spoken aloud when Kensi leaps to her feet and leans over his bed, with an expression on her face that is half-joy, half worry. She says something and for a moment Marty could swear there is a slight tremor in her voice, which is strange, he thinks. Not like Kensi at all.

Kensi The Confident, that's how he thinks of her in private. Which he does a lot. Probably too often. Certainly too often for comfort. But comfort is something singularly lacking in his life in general and is definitely conspicuous by its absence right now. How many times has he dreamt he is lying in bed and Kensi is beside him? Good question. Too many times, and that's the truth. There have been too many long, hot, sleepless nights when the sounds of the surf have floated in through his open window and pounded in his ears till he felt like screaming. And now his dream has come true in the worst way possible and all Marty Deeks can think of is that he wants Kensi to get the hell away from him.

You don't show pain. You don't show vulnerability.

Marty learns these lessons at a very young age and he learns them well. Too well perhaps? That's another good question. He learns how to smile no matter what, to make a joke and to ignore barbed remarks. After years of practice it is easy to pretend he doesn't notice that he's not really a part of the team. Marty is only too aware he is an outsider, the guy who is there on sufferance. And so he smiles and he plays the role of the good-natured, none-too-bright surfer boy to perfection. Marty knows his laid-back personna seems to rile the NCIS team-members, but he can't help it. He's been acting this part for too many years to change now. But the lack of acceptance still hurts. Despite everything, despite all those hard lessons he's learned, there is something deep within him that cries out when he is alone. And he is always alone. There is no-one left who understands, there is no-one to share his pain.

Don't let people get close to you, Marty, because then they can hurt you.

Only right now he can't think of anything hurting more than this pain in his chest.

It hurts so much. Stop it. Make it stop.

But she is talking again, Kensi the Confident is taking charge and making him feel like he's a kid back at school. He has to respond, so Marty puts a sweet smile on his face and tries to answer with a joke. And all the time the pain is roiling away and every breath feels like barbed wire. And Kensi doesn't even ask how he's feeling, so he can hardly blurt out that he needs pain relief right now. He feels so bad that if someone doesn't do something for this pain he's going to throw up. Somehow Marty manages push the pain down and stays in control just long enough for a nurse to come in.

"You're awake," she says, checking the monitors quickly and adjusting the IV. "How do you feel?" Marty just gives a weak smile and watches as she shoots his partner a resentful look, which of course Kensi is impervious to. And then the nurse leans across the bed, leaving a faint hint of her perfume floating in the sterile hospital air and shows him the pain button, taking care to press it so that a dose of morphine is released. Kensi doesn't notice. Has she even thought that he might be in agony? Does she even care? He's asked that question so many times, but right now, he doesn't particularly care. All he wants is for the pain to go away.

Never admit weakness, Marty. People will take advantage of you. Be a man.

Within seconds the drug starts to take effect and the pain ratchets down a couple of degrees. It's still there, but he can cope with this. He smiles and makes a joke with the nurse. Kensi doesn't look impressed.

"What is it with guys and nurses?"

Marty answers without thinking. "They're helpful and caring." And for a moment he could swear that Kensi looks sad. "Did you guys catch my shooter?

"Not yet. Did you recognise him?"

By now the morphine is really kicking in. "It's hard to remember" he admits and feels ashamed. He should remember. It's his job to remember.

He wishes she would go away and leave him in peace. But more than anything, he wishes there was someone who cared, someone to take his hand and hold it tightly, someone to sit at the side of his bed and tell him everything will be alright; make him believe that he will be alright. But there isn't. There is only Kensi. And she will stay here out of a sense of duty, because he is her partner. Because she has to stay. It's her job. Why else would she be here?

"Deeks has been shot," Hetty had announced earlier that morning. That statement spoke volumes. Hetty, always one for etiquette had not said "Mr Deeks," in her customary fashion, but just plain "Deeks". She regretted the words the moment they left her mouth

Deeks. Why did I say that? How cold did that sound, how impersonal? Why do I never call him Marty? Do the rest of the team call him Marty, or is he just Deeks to them too? Does anyone call him Marty any more?

Hetty gave her head a small shake and tried to control the thoughts racing around her brain with dizzying speed.

You can't afford to let personal feelings enter into this, she chided herself. Do not be so self-indulgent. You must concentrate. You have a job to do and the lives of your other agents, Marty's team members, may depend on how you do that job. Try not to think of him as Marty from now on. It's too personal. Except this time it is personal. Marty is more than just another member of NCIS.

Hetty took a deep breath and began talking again. She was a professional, she had spent all her adult life working in complex situations where the lives of dozens of people depended upon her. So why did this shooting affect her so much?

Why did it have to be Marty? Good question. I was the person who brought him into NCIS. I am responsible. It's my fault.

Last year, when Dom had been killed, she had held the team together. It was what she had been trained to do. But this was different. This time it was personal.

He was such a sweet little boy. I loved him so much.

But that was long ago and right now Henrietta Lang had a job to do. Someone had shot one of her agents and she was going to find out exactly why and put an end to this. She had a bad feeling about the whole situation, a sixth sense that told her there was something deeper going on. It was a puzzle, but Hetty had always been good at games. In many ways, her whole adult life had been spent playing games. She could still play four games of chess simultaneously, with four different opponents and beat at least three of them. This was just another game, even if the stakes were higher. She wasn't prepared to gamble with Marty's life. There would be a time for revenge later on. After the game was won there would be time.

Hetty took a deep breath to compose herself. "Mr Deeks was shot in the chest. He's in surgery at Pacific West Hospital."

The news hit Sam like a dull blow to the solar plexus. Deeks got shot? How could Deeks be so all-fired stupid as to get himself shot? He could feel the anger rise and fought to subdue it.

You're not annoyed at Deeks. Guy was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Just bad luck on his part. Focus your anger. Concentrate on finding out who did this. Get the guy who shot Deeks. Make it right. He didn't deserve this. Shot in the chest – that's bad. That's really bad.

Sam would have gone to hospital, heck he wanted to go to the hospital, but Hetty had other ideas, telling him that his "particular skills" would be better served at the crime scene. And thus, as bidden, Sam and Callen went off to the Sand Dollar Convenience Store and Kensi went to see her partner. Hetty remained to direct activities. The first positioning of the players was crucial and this was the best use of resources. When situation like this arose, the team ceased to be people they became pawns in a larger game. She forced herself to concentrate, to stay here and develop her strategy, to begin to gather the information that would determine the next stage. No matter how much she wanted to go to the hospital right now, Hetty would not indulge herself. She would do her job, come what may.

As Callen drove, the atmosphere in the car could have been cut with a knife. Neither man wanted to voice their fears. It was every agent's worst nightmare and Callen had been there before . He knew exactly what getting shot in the chest felt like. It was something he relived in the smothering dreams of darkness. It hurt. It hurt beyond the normal realms of imagination. That realm of incessant, gut-wrenching pain was not a place he wanted to visit again. It was just over a year since he had been shot and the memories were as fresh as the scars.

Keeping his emotions under control was a daily part of Callen's life. Years moving around various homes had taught him that. He was good at controlling himself and he was equally good at playing the system. Violence and death were also a part of his life, but he had less control over these. And right now he was struggling to stay detached. Marty Deeks had been shot in the chest. That was serious. He knew exactly how serious that was. Sometimes, Callen really didn't like his life.

At first glance, it was looked exactly like a hundred other crime scenes they had attended before: there was the same flurry of cops moving around, the bands of yellow and black scene of crime tape festooning the sidewalk and of course there was a familiar group of rubber-neckers gawping across the street. Only this time it was different. This time, when Sam looked at the blood on the floor, the discarded medical supplies strewn all around, all he could think of was that thirty minutes ago Deeks had been lying on that floor, lying helpless, shot twice in the chest and bleeding. And that made it different. Like it or not, that made it personal. They were involved. One of their own had been shot. And that meant all the normal rules flew straight out of the window.

Versey, the LAPD detective, didn't seem bothered that a fellow cop had been shot and was more than willing to let NCIS take over the case. He seemed to treat getting shot as almost an occupational hazard. "Looks like he walked in on a robbery. Happens all the time. We've probably had a dozen robberies a week like this for the last month."

"This time it's different," Sam scowled. "This time it's one of ours." The guy flushed and turned away angrily. Sam didn't much care. Guy was a jerk. He went into the store and suppressed a shudder as he stepped over the mess of blood on the floor. Deeks' blood. The metallic smell seemed to linger obscenely in the air.

"It comes with the territory, right?" he asked. They all knew that. They just weren't used to being confronted with the brutal truth in quite such a physical way. It was different when it was someone you knew.

There wasn't much evidence to be gathered at the store. The digital camera wasn't even recording. Great. They'd have to rely on the external traffic cameras to get any evidence. The one thing that was obvious was that the storekeeper seemed to know Deeks pretty well. He was a regular customer there and he'd clearly made a great impression. Sam could understand that.

So why do I keep knocking him down? Why can't I accept him? Sure he's not Dom, but that's not his fault. He was brought in to do a job and he's good at it.

"I can't believe it - Marty was such a good guy!" The storekeeper looked genuinely upset.

Sam gave him a withering look. "He still is," he said firmly. "Deeks is a pain in the ass, but he doesn't deserve this."

"No-one does," Callen replied sadly. Sometimes life really sucked.

I wonder how he is? Is he out of surgery yet? Is he still alive?

Kensi had looked at Hetty with sheer disbelief. "Deeks is my second partner to get shot. So I would really like to be there. Look, the last time I wasn't there and he was dead the next time I saw him. So please – okay?" Her eyes were dilated with fear.

First Dom and now Deeks. How can this be happening to me again? What's going on? I can't lose another partner.

"I'm sure your partner will want to see you when he wakes up," Hetty said quietly, giving Kensi a quizzical look. The girl was obviously distraught, but she was focusing on solely on herself and her own needs, and that concerned Hetty. It raised serious questions about Kensi's objectivity and her ability to continue to function effectively. It worried Hetty that Kensi should see Marty first and foremost as her partner, rather than as an individual.

He can't die. What is wrong with me that everyone I get close to leaves me? First Jack, then Dom and now Deeks. They all leave me.

Afterwards, Kensi had no memory of driving to the hospital, but she was pretty sure she'd run several red lights and probably set a new record for speeding. Quite frankly, she didn't care. And now she felt as if she had been waiting forever, standing in an anonymous hospital corridor, staring into space and trying not to think about what was going on in the operating theatre. Waiting for news and praying he would be alright. It had been a long time since she'd prayed and she was kind of rusty at it, but she tried.

Please. Let him be alright. Please.

She swallowed convulsively and looked at the watch she was holding – Deeks' watch.

They should have been finished by now. What's taking so long? What's wrong?

Her hand was starting to cramp and she realised she been gripping onto Deeks' wallet in the same way a drowning man grasps a lifesaver. Relaxing her hold, Kensi opened her fingers and, without thinking, gently caressed his ID photograph. Deeks was looking straight at the camera, without any guile or pretence. Yes, it was a handsome face, but it was also an honest face, she realised. For so long Kensi had deliberately only seen the tousled hair, the dark blue eyes and she'd fallen into the trap of thinking Deeks was just another stereotypical Californian alpha male with a buff body and easy charm. She had known so many guys like Deeks over the years, guys to whom everything had come easily, who just had to crook their little fingers for the world to bend to their will and she was tired of their superior attitudes and of being hurt by them. She was Kensi Blye, she was an NCIS agent and she was damn good at her job. She was better than half the male agents and that was the truth. She should be a senior agent like Callen and Sam but no she had to be teamed up with the guy on temporary liaison from the LAPD. His charm left her cold. She knew his type. And yet...

He's smart. He's funny and kind and he's almost as good as me. We make a good team. Maybe we could even be a great team, if I stop trying to prove how much better I am than him. He's not a bad man. I trust him with my life every day, so why can't I trust him with my feelings? Why can't I admit how I feel about him?

The doors opened to let the gurney through, with a whole team of medical personnel in attendance. Kensi spun around, her whole attention fixed on Deeks. He lay there, perfectly still and at first a casual observer might have thought he was asleep, so natural was the look on his face. And then she saw the stark white of the dressings standing out in sharp contrast to his tanned skin and Kensi felt chilled.

This shouldn't be happening.

His head was turned to face her and there was a strangely sweet half-smile on his lips. There was no pretence now. She felt she was seeing the real Marty Deeks for the first time. He was just a man. But more than that: he was her partner.

Kensi knew how fragile the human body was and she dreaded the day when a bullet would hit her. So far she had been lucky, but no-one could stay lucky forever. Today, Deeks had been shot, but one day it would be her and just the thought of that was terrifying. How would she cope with the reality? Kensi would lie awake at nights and try to imagine how it would feel to have a bullet punch into her body, to gouge a path through her flesh, destroying muscle and bone. And then she would be unable to sleep, so she would go out running, pounding the streets in an attempt to push her fears into oblivion. She was usually unsuccessful, but it meant she could run ten miles without a problem.

He's a good man and he doesn't deserve this. He looks so young. He looks so vulnerable. And how come his hair still looks so good? It's not fair!

And in the sterile-smelling hospital corridor, Kensi Blye felt her heart flip over. As the doctor started to speak, all she could process was that Deeks was going to be alright. He wasn't going to die. Her heart compressed with painful joy. It was going to be alright. Sure, he'd been shot twice, but with small calibre bullets. There was no major damage. He was going to be alright.

The doctor's next question came from left field. "There no next of kin listed. Is there someone we should call?" She looked vaguely annoyed. Over the years she had dealt with numerous cops and federal agents and they all knew how important it was to keep the paperwork up to date. This guy seemed to have slipped through the cracks. Normally, when a cop was shot, his buddies were littering the corridors. This poor guy only merited a single agent.

Doesn't his department care? What is going on here?

Next of kin? It was a good question, Kensi thought. It was just a pity she didn't know the answer. She'd worked with this guy for six months and she didn't even know who his next of kin was? That was shocking.

How did this happen? How did I allow it to happen? Why didn't I make the slightest effort to get to know anything about him?