Last chapter! A nice long, meaty chunk as a reward for making it this far.

So many thanks to all my wonderful reviewers and to everyone who added alerts. And thank you to everyone who has been reading along.
Maxie Kay

They broke apart just in time to watch Callen and Sam clasp hands briefly in triumph inside the interview room while Trevor Matthews surveyed the table with great interest. To all intents and purposes, he was a broken man.

"Full admission of guilt?" Deeks enquired when they exited a short while later.

"Signed, sealed and delivered. Once we've written up our reports, this case is officially closed." Callen gave Nico a meaningful look.

"Speak for yourself, G. My paperwork is right up to date." Deeks gave him a wicked grin. "Any plans for tonight then? Anything you'd like to share? No? How about you then, Nico?"

"I thought I'd tell them about that time when we were eleven. Remember? The time we were playing cowboys and Indians and…" She stopped and gave him a hard stare. "You really don't want me to go there, do you?"

Callen pulled her into his arms. "He might not, but Sam and I would love to hear the whole story later on."

"You've made him blush," Sam observed, laughter in his voice. "One last night in Malibu then? We could throw some steaks on the barbeque, raid Deeks' wine cellar and sit and watch the stars come up?" After a case, you always needed to decompress and especially after this case.

"Sounds good. Apart from the wine cellar bit. I don't think I want to waste my fine wines on a pair of ingrates who chug beer. I'm going by the hospital first, so I'll catch up with you later. I would say "make yourselves at home", but you've pretty much done that already, haven't you? These past few days have taken me back to college – it's been like living in a frat house all over again. Only with less hair and vomit."

"Give my love to Kensi," Nico called as he left the boathouse.

Deeks stopped at the florist and caught them just as they were about to close for the day. He chose armfuls of white flowers: irises, lilies, roses, stocks and a dozen others whose names escaped him. They lay on the back seat and filled the car with sweetness as he drove. Walking through the hospital, he felt like he should be in some Hollywood love story and judging by the reactions of the people he passed, they agreed. So it was a grand romantic gesture. So what. What did he have to lose? Well, that was the question, wasn't it?

"Did you buy the whole shop?" Kensi asked, burying her nose in a bouquet of roses and admiring the others that lay on her bed.

He shrugged, suddenly nervous. "Pretty much, I guess. And I brought you something else. This." He held out the ring, lying in the palm of his hand. "If you still want it, that is?"

My eyes are telling me leave well enough alone
My feet are telling me keep walking
Another voice is saying please don't go
That's just my heart talking

"You know I love you, right?" Kensi asked.

"Why do I sense there's a "but" about to follow?" She hadn't made a move for the ring. He knew what was going to happen next. It was like watching a car wreck in slow motion and not being able to do a thing to stop it.

Kensi put down the roses and looked at him. "Maybe we took things too fast? I just need some space to work things through. But I do love you, Marty."

It's always leading me where I do not belong
To doorways where I shouldn't be knockin'
Trying to pass itself off for a song
That's just my heart talking

"You love me, but you don't want to be with me?" he said wryly. "You'd rather be alone? Kensi, don't take me for a fool. I can read between the lines. You want space – fine. I can do that. I love you enough to do that. Even though it's killing me." Marty's fingers contracted around the ring and he shoved his hand into his pocket, aware that his whole body was trembling.

"I'm not ending this, Marty. It's just that I've got a lot of things to think about," she protested. "And I need to get away for a while. I've got sick leave due to me and I thought I'd back to Mom's for a while."

"You want to think about us and our future together by yourself? Kensi – I want to help you, to be with you. Don't push me away."

It's talking,
Sometimes I don't know what to say
I turn to look the other way
Are you talking, talking to me?

"Don't do this, Marty. Please don't do this."

"Okay, we'll do this your way. I'll go and I'll wait to hear from you. But don't you ever forget that I love you enough to let you do this. So give me a call when you want to talk, will you? I'll be waiting." He shook his head in disbelief. "By the way – I thought you might want this. For old time's sake."

It was the "Surf's Up" t-shirt she'd worn the first time she'd stayed over in Malibu. Kensi reached out and pulled it towards her, feeling the softness of the cotton.

"Get better soon, sweetheart."

Some people tell me eyes are windows to the soul
But eyes can be like empty sockets
Maybe you'd be better off alone
But that's just my heart talking

After he left, Kensi lay back on the pillows and wept into the shirt, using it to stifle her sobs. She remembered talking to Nico and telling the other woman how she was afraid she'd push too hard one day and she was painfully aware that she had just pushed away the best man she'd ever known.

He drove back to the house in a numb daze. For two cents, Marty would have thrown the damn ring in the ocean, but that would have been childish. Besides which, it had looked so good on Kensi's finger. "Wonder if I've got the record for the world's shortest engagement? Must have been all of twenty-four hours."

When he got back to the house they were all on the terrace, catching the last of the evening sun, relaxing and enjoying life. It was like a scene from some lifestyle magazine.

"How's Kensi" Nico asked, trying to keep the dog away from the steaks.

"Sitting up in bed." He snagged a beer and gulped down a couple of mouthfuls appreciatively.

It's talking,
Sometimes I don't know what to say
I turn to look the other way
Are you talking, talking to me?

"She's talking about going back to stay with her Mom for a bit while she recuperates." Marty finished the beer in another few gulps, grabbed another and, kicking off his shoes started to walk across the grass .It was cool and damp underneath his bare feet and the dog frolicked happily beside him. "You've been putting on the sprinklers again, Sam, haven't you?" he yelled.

"If you want a lush lawn, you've got to work at it," Sam responded unrepentantly.

In the distance Marty could see the ocean stretching out, immense and vast and infinite, sparkling under the setting sun, beckoning him. "Looks like the surf's up, Bobby. How about you and me go catch us a wave?"

My eyes are telling me leave well enough alone
These boots are telling me start walking
Another voice is saying please don't go
But that's just my heart talking
That's just my heart talking


Lyrics from That's Just My Heart Talking belong to Ron Sexsmith.

Possibly may be continued. What do you reckon? Anybody think there's a bit more to be told?

Who am I kidding, right? If you read this far, you'll know I love the odd cliffhanger.

Next instalment coming soon: Comes a Time.