Thank you for your reviews! I hope to be able to respond to some of them later on today. In the mean time, a quick chapter two. Callen seems to me to be the person who would understand where Deeks is at, better than anyone. I started wondering what a conversation between them might sound like. This was written while listening to Matthew Good's "Weapon." Search for the song on YouTube, give it a listen, see if you think it fits the life these guys have led.

If I can get to it (and I hope I can), I'd like to wrap this up with a last chapter in which Deeks cashes in his raincheck!

Oh, and one quick note: With Nate out being a spy, I don't know how much he and Deeks have actually talked, at least professionally. But if memory serves, Nate has been around here and there, so I'm guessing it's plausible.

...

"Never turn your back on it. Never turn your back on it again."

~Weapon, by Matthew Good

It was Sunday, just before seven a.m. and a gentle rain had just begun to fall when Callen arrived at Ops, dressed in sweats and a t-shirt, a gym bag slung over his shoulder. As he passed by Marty Deeks' car on the way into the building, he paused to run his hand over the hood. Cold. So either Deeks was here, and had been for quite a while now. Or he'd been here, left the car and found another way home.

Ops was quiet when he walked in, but the smell of fresh-brewed coffee gave him his answer. Callen stopped long enough to pour himself a mug and then headed down to the gym. He'd just pulled on his gloves, ready to work on the heavy bag, when Deeks came out of the locker room. His hair was wet, and he wore a pair of running shorts.

Callen nodded at him. "You moving into Ops?"

Deeks shrugged. "Ah, thinking about it. Not crazy about the layout, but I could work with it. Got a great spot picked out for my entertainment center."

"All this square footage, though, utility bills are going to be a bitch."

"Good point."

Callen rolled his shoulders, and drove a punch into the heavy bag. Reset and threw another. Deeks stepped over to brace the bag for him.

"Thanks," Callen said. Then he let himself get lost for a while in the combinations and rhythms. Left feint, right undercut. Crosses, hooks. He was only dimly aware of Deeks moving the bag, turning it so Callen could work on his footwork too. Soon the air was going in and out of his lungs easily, and his joints were loosening up.

"Kensi was here last night," Deeks said.

"Yeah?" Left, right, right, knee.

"Yeah."

Five minutes ticked by. Ten. Sweat was dripping down Callen's face. Breathing deeply, he stepped back and picked the mug up off the floor where he'd left it. Took a swallow. Could almost hear the fit Sam would be having about now if he knew. Coffee during a workout? What's wrong with you? Your body needs to replenish fluids, man. Caffeine's a damned diuretic!

Deeks gave the heavy bag a half-hearted hit with his bare fist. "I tried to apologize to her."

Callen smirked. "How that work out for you?"

Another hit, this one more committed. "She said something about how it wasn't really me, so I didn't need to say I was sorry."

"You and I both know better."

Deeks glanced up at him.

"Look," Callen said. "You aren't that gun runner. I'm not Jason Tedrow. But neither one of them come out of thin air, and sure as hell no one gives us a script. A long-term cover's got to be real, you know that. So what do we do? We go inside ourselves and we dig out what we can use. Sometimes memories of people we've known. Sometimes pieces of who we are that we usually keep locked down, out of sight."

Something in Deeks' face changed. He hit the bag again, repeating one of Callen's combinations.

"It's already there, Deeks. Might as well look right at it. Accept it. Use it. Just whatever you do, don't turn your back on it or try to deny it. That's when you get into trouble."

Deeks hauled off and hit the bag with a roundhouse punch. Then stepped back, shaking his hand out. "I think I like talking to you better than Nate," he said, frowning his knuckles.

"Nate's off saving the world. Someone's got to step up, take his place. I figure I've got the most experience."

The two men looked at each other. Callen chuckled and Deeks gave a ghost of a grin.

"Later Callen." Still flexing his hand, Deeks walked toward the door.

"Hey Deeks?" Callen called after him.

"What?"

"Nate may not be around, but I know someone who's going to want to have a long talk with you. Be ready for it."

Deeks' shoulders dropped. "Hetty."

"Yep." Callen set down the mug and went after the heavy bag again.