TITLE: The second hand unwinds
DISCLAIMER: All publicly recognizable characters and places are the property of Shane Brennan Productions, CBS Television Studios and Belisarius Productions. No copyright infringement is intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Title lyric by Cyndi Lauper. Thanks to the lovely George and Rinkle for the beta.
She will wake at dawn. She'll try to ignore the reason for five minutes before giving in and heading for the bathroom. And while washing her hands, the early morning brain fog will clear enough to remind her of the day's date.
There will be no chance of going back to sleep. She'll grab her robe and pull the bedroom door closed quietly behind her. The morning air will be on the chilly side, but a hot cup of tea will take the edge off.
She'll wander the house, body tired but mind restless. Stopping in the study, she'll trail her fingertips over her history scattered across the bookshelves. She'll smile as she remembers the reaction of the guys to the contents of her cardboard box. The previous year her partner just shook his head, muttered something that was probably "classy", and only complained about the placement of the cobra.
She'll pick up the medal box and clutch it to her chest, her thumb stroking back and forth over its surface. A wave of sorrow will flood through her and she'll retreat to the second bedroom, surrendering to the embrace of the rocking chair.
She'll open the box and remove her father's note. Apart from working on a car engine, holding the scrap of paper has always been the way to feel closest to him. Her index finger will trace his handwriting, his simple words somehow meaning more to her as the years pass.
She won't be sure how long she sits gently rocking, the palm of her hand warming the medal. A hand brushing her cheek will startle her out of the state that lies somewhere between the past and sleep.
"Sorry," he will say as he kneels beside the chair. Concern will be clear in his blue eyes, and she'll feel guilty for being so often its source.
He will slide his arms around her and she'll rest her head in the crook of his neck.
"It's..." She'll have worked hard on opening up to him. But it will still need to be forced at times. "I thought it would be easier after… It's been eighteen years. It should be easier."
"This has probably got something to do with it," he'll say as he strokes a hand over her growing belly. She won't be able to hide it from the team for much longer. "Your, our life is changing. You're going to miss him more."
"I wish you'd known him," she'll whisper.
His chuckle will reverberate through his chest. "He'd think I'm perfectly useless. Can't hotwire a bus or track a bear."
"They're my jobs." She'll place her hand over his and lift her head to look at him. "He'd think you could do with a buzz cut and a shave."
He'll flash that smile she fell in love with. "He wouldn't be the first."
"He'd think-" Her voice will begin to crack. "That you're pretty amazing to put up with my crap. He'd thank you for not giving up on me." They will be sentiments she's wanted to express for far too long. "For knowing me better than I know myself and…loving me anyway." The last words will be barely audible as she struggles to hold herself together.
He will stand and pull her to her feet, before leading her back to their bed. Wrapped in his arms, her head on his chest, she'll try to hold back the tears. One hand rubbing circles on her back, the other on her face and his soft "let it go, Kens," will finally breach her walls and the silent tears will flow.
She'll cry for what she's lost and what Marty never had. She'll cry for all her father has and will miss. And mixed in will be her fear of their future and her ability to mother. She'll reassure herself that at least there'll be a loving father.
She finds the truth two months after the fifteenth anniversary of her father's death. There's no triumphant resolution, just her finger on the trigger and frantic voices and his hand on hers.
When it's over, she sits on the shower floor, knees drawn up to her chest as the water streaming over her cools. She ignores the cell phone, even the door bell, but then he starts thumping on the front door and yelling her name. She turns off the water, dries herself and pulls on a robe.
He's mid-knock when she yanks the door open and glares at him. "Please don't come in," she says as he pushes past. Closing the door behind him, she leans her forehead against it for a moment and then turns to find him staring at her.
She holds up her hand to stop him before he starts. "I'm getting dressed." She stalks off to the bedroom and shuts the door with more than necessary force. She pulls on her most comfortable jeans and hoodie, tying her wet hair up in a loose ponytail as she lingers as long as possible.
Drawing in a deep breath, she heads straight to the kitchen and grabs a beer from the fridge. He wisely doesn't comment on the two empty bottles already sitting on the counter as she gulps a third of the beer in one breath.
"Get it over with," she orders, gesturing with the bottle. The sooner he leaves, the sooner she can embrace oblivion.
He starts quietly. "We'll find the evidence we need."
"No, we won't." Her laugh is harsh. "That was the only chance to make him pay and you took it away from me."
"Because you ending up in prison is a great solution."
"It would have been worth it." Another gulp of beer burns down her throat. "What have I got left anyway? I've destroyed my career."
He takes a step toward her and she takes one back. "We've got your back. No one else needs to know what happened."
"Sure. He's just going to keep his mouth shut."
Her eyes narrow at the certainty in his tone and she worries a little about what he, Sam and Callen did after she sped off. She finishes the beer and moves onto the scotch.
She can feel him watching her and the tension in her body ratchets up another notch. "Please go," she says, before throwing back a finger (closer to two) of scotch.
"Your father wouldn't want this for you."
She lashes out. "What the fuck would you know about what fathers want?"
Even in the state she's in, she catches the deep hurt on his face before he can hide it. Part of her wants to apologise, but her anger's still in control of her and she hopes that maybe it'll be enough to make him leave. Turning back to the counter, she pours another glass. Her hands are starting to shake.
"That's enough, Kensi, enough," he orders, grasping her forearm as she lifts the glass to her mouth.
She wrenches free and hits the glass on the counter, shattering it in her hand.
"Shit," she hears him say, but she's just stunned as she opens her hand, the cocktail of glass, alcohol and blood flowing over her palm and between her fingers.
He pulls her by the arm to the kitchen sink and places her hand under the running water. She winces as her brain finally registers the injury, but it's okay. She can deal with this.
He somehow locates the first aid kit and picks out the shards of glass. He keeps apologizing, but she welcomes the pain and is almost sorry when he finishes and her hand's bandaged. That's when her legs give out and she ends up on the kitchen floor, Deeks' hands under her elbow guiding her down to a controlled landing. She leans back against the cupboard and closes her eyes, riding out the dizziness and hint of nausea.
His hand is on arm and she shakes it off, opening her eyes as she raises her hands in the 'back off' gesture. "I'm fine. Just leave."
"That's not happening," he says, his tone and gaze telling her not to bother fighting him. He sits down next to her, not quite touching.
The adrenaline and fury she's been running on drains from her body, replaced by the emotions she's tried to ignore for far too long. She bites her lip and digs her fingernails into the palm of her uninjured hand, while flexing the other as far as she can to stretch the cuts.
She knows he's watching her, knows he wants to tell her to stop, but thankfully he keeps his mouth shut. The pain works as a distraction for too short a time and her body starts to tremble. Pulling her knees up and wrapping her arms around them, she rocks as the tears threaten.
The touch of his hand on her shoulder breaks her. She tries to be quiet, but the hurt is too many years in the making and she finally gives up any semblance of control.
Her chest, throat and head ache from the intensity of the sobbing and she starts to hyperventilate. She panics until she feels his hands clasping hers and manages to focus on his voice.
By the time she's calmed down, she's utterly exhausted and doesn't fight him as he slides his arm around her shoulders.
She's now lived half her life without her father. And it's approaching a decade since Jack walked out. Maybe, she thinks as she lowers her head onto Deeks' shoulder, just maybe it's time to move on.
"Name's Dave," he said as he rolled off her.
She flashed him a flirty smile. "Was loud at the club, thought you said-" she couldn't get the name out, "-something else."
She waited the ten minutes it took for him to fall asleep, then climbed out of the bed and retrieved her clothes from the floor. Finding the bathroom, she closed the door and turned on the light, blinking furiously as her alcohol-buzzed brain complained. She wiped away the remnants of the night with toilet paper and quickly dressed, avoiding looking in the mirror above the basin.
She traced her steps back through the apartment, collecting her purse, heels and jacket, as well as a few bruises where she collided with furniture. Her outfit, particularly the short short skirt, had been perfect for attracting attention at the various clubs she'd danced though, but was no match against the 4am cold. She had no idea where she was and for a moment nearly gave in to the feelings she'd spent the day running from.
"Pull yourself together, Kensi," she ordered. "Find the main road and hope for a cab."
It was over an hour later when she finally opened her front door, stepped over the mail on the entrance floor and headed straight for the shower. The slightly scalding water washed Dave's fingerprints from her skin, along with the fingerprints of too many other nameless men (and a couple of women). She winced as she shifted. He'd been rougher than she was used to and she hadn't been aroused enough, but that was what she'd wanted. She couldn't complain now.
She dressed in her pajamas, pulled on a robe and crossed to the dresser to comb out her hair. She avoided looking at the tray containing her engagement ring. She'd taken it off for the first time yesterday before she went clubbing.
Heading to the kitchen for aspirin, she picked up the mail on the way. Too many envelopes still addressed to him or them. She swallowed hard as she recognized one envelope. The annual sympathy report from the lead investigator into her father's case. She didn't bother opening it. It said practically the same thing every year, though she felt the hope fading from his words. She wondered how much longer she'd receive them.
She dumped the mail on the counter, swallowed aspirin and grabbed a bottle of water before exiting to the living room. She dropped onto the couch, turned on the tv and flicked through the channels – infomercial, religious, infomercial, cartoons. She briefly smiled as she came across a rerun of MacGyver, remembering how her father would note some of MacGyver's tricks and they'd spend the weekend experimenting. She switched over to the news channel as she felt the tears pricking at the back of her eyes. Until a story on troops in Iraq had her stabbing the off button and hurling the remote across the room.
She closed her eyes, clenching her teeth and fists as she pushed back the feelings she refused to acknowledge anymore. He wasn't coming back and she'd wasted enough time looking for him.
She'd look for a new apartment, put her focus back on her studies. Maybe contact the headhunters she'd been ignoring since- And she would not allow any relationship to take over her life again. They always ended, so what was the point in starting. If she wanted sex, she could get it without letting someone in.
Her father had taught her how to adapt and stand on her own two feet. The only person she could ever rely on was herself. She didn't need anyone else.
And she didn't cry.