Chapter Forty four: final encounter

All good things must come to an end – so here we are…

Hope you've enjoyed reading this as much as I've enjoyed writing it.

So many, many thanks to everyone who has been following this latest installment in my Kensi/Deeks universe - and to everyone who has added story alerts, favourite story and author and most especially to all those who have reviewed.


"Got a guilty conscience?" Sam asked him.

"Why would I? But something is up. I might be half-blind but I'm not half-witted."

"That's a matter of opinion."

Hetty cleared her throat audibly, not wanting this to descend into petty bickering. Not in public, at any rate. "There is the small matter of EJ managing to evade the best efforts of the Lothian and Borders Police Force. I believe they have issued an all-points order, but so far she has proved rather enigmatic."

"I'm not surprised, seeing as how she's added arson and attempted murder to duplicity and possible treason." Callen had bitten the bait she had dangled so temptingly before his nose. Hetty liked to make sure her plans unfolded the way she had planned them

"You can't charge someone with being duplicitous. That's more of a character trait than an actual crime."

"Stop pretending to be a lawyer, Deeks."

"I am a lawyer. Got the degree and everything. I just don't practice."

Callen shook his head. "Same difference. One of these days, you're going to have to make your mind up and decide exactly who you are: lawyer, detective, liaison, NCIS agent."

"Beach bum?" Sam added helpfully. "Once his hair grows back, that is." Luckily for him, he was too far away for Marty to impale him with the tip of his crutch.

"Majority shareholder of Brandel Holdings?" Jack suggested sotto voce.

"Quit trying to pigeon-hole me, will you?" Marty found he was struggling to keep up with the pace they were setting. He'd forgotten how exhausting using crutches was. And his leg was aching as if he'd been kicked by a mule. "And what about EJ anyway – do you reckon she was acting on her own?"

"That is indeed the question, Mr Deeks. Well spotted. We'd be as well to assume that EJ was acting under orders and has some form of back-up until it can be proven otherwise."

"Proven?" Sam screwed up his nose.

"Past tense of "to prove", Mr Hannah." Sometimes Hetty wondered how the man had managed to graduate from high school. She'd had a hell of a job trying to persuade him that the "liaison" was a noun, derived from the verb and that the present participle was "liaising". For a man who was fluent in Arabic, he could be remarkably dense when it came to his own native tongue.

"The Scots have a "not proven" verdict," Marty mused. "Generally when they reckon they've got the right guy, but they just don't have enough evidence to pin it on him. "Not guilty and don't do it again" is how my jurisprudence professor used to describe it." Aware of the sudden silence, he shrugged, which was no mean feat, given the crutches. "I'm only saying."

Callen decided to give him a break. It was almost pertinent, after all. "That sounds like exactly the sort of verdict EJ would manage to wangle knowing her. And I guess she would have to stand trial here, after all. They've got her details at the airports and ports, I suppose?"

"Are you trying to teach me my job, Mr Callen?" The last 24 hours had been particularly trying and Hetty's patience was stretched to breaking point.

"I wouldn't dream of it," he replied smoothly, sensing he'd just stepped over the abyss and was clinging on by his finger tips.

"Make sure it stays that way." She strode out of the hospital, dignity and indignation oozing from every pore.

"Hetty's booked us rooms in the Caledonian Hotel. We'll catch up soon, okay?" Jack patted his son on the shoulder. "You take care now." Kensi instantly recognised his wistful expression, as she'd seen its duplicate many times on Marty's face.

Don't screw this up. Please. Just give him a chance. Give yourself a chance. You both deserve something good, after all that's happened.

"I'll call you tonight, Dad." It had been a shock to wake up and discover his father slumped in a chair at the side of his bed, but it had also been reassuring, in a strange sort of way. Marty realised that while they'd lost too many years, they could still have a future of some sorts. Exactly what that would be was still pretty nebulous, but he did know how he'd felt thinking his father might die in the fire.

"And I'll take care of him. Make sure he doesn't try to do too much," Kensi added. Jack grinned at her and followed in Hetty's wake with a wave, turning the collar of his coat up against the light rain that was starting to spatter down.

"Spoilsport." Marty eased himself carefully into the back of the car, while Kensi got in from the other side. His leg was throbbing like merry hell now. The minute they got back, he'd pop a couple of the pain pills the hospital had given him, and maybe have a whisky to help them act a little faster.

"I only said I wouldn't let you do too much. I didn't say anything about what I may or may not be doing to you, did I? As in "your wish is my command", perhaps?" Kensi looked at him carefully, suddenly seeing the lines of pain on his face. "Or we could just lie in bed and you could hold me, very tightly?" she said in a whisper. Because they only thing that really mattered was that they were together. All the rest could wait.

Sam turned around and glared at them. "You want to save that until you're alone? With the door firmly shut?"

"Jealous, Sam?"

"You bet." But Sam's heart wasn't in it. He'd been hugging a secret to himself for the past few days now. His eyes sparkled as he thought of Denise and the holiday they were planning. Just the two of them – a second honeymoon. Because very soon, they were going to be really busy. The last night in LA, before he'd left for Scotland, Denise had confided that she was pretty sure she was pregnant. They'd been talking about having another baby for months and now it seemed like he was going to be a father again. Sam couldn't wait to get back to LA and see her and Crosby and to start planning for the future. Callen and Deeks were stuck here for a couple of weeks, but there was no reason why he couldn't go back ahead of them. On the very first flight he could get.

Callen sat in the passenger seat, staring morosely ahead, knowing this latest setback with his eye meant he was stuck in this strange country, where people spoke what sounded like English, but clearly wasn't, where it was only dark for about four hours a night and where it seemed to rain each and every day. And where he was on the other side of the world from Nico. Had it only been a couple of days since they'd spoken, since he'd last held her in his arms? Because it seemed like longer. It seemed like an eternity. And he was physically aching for her. But he was stuck here, courtesy of that first-class bitch, EJ Barrett, who made a habit of fucking up his life every time they met. God only knew where she was, who she was with or what she was doing. He wouldn't put it past her to have some personal vendetta against him and his team.

Just to put the cap on his black mood, it was starting to rain in earnest now, big, fat drops were splattering off the windscreen and the sky was turning an ominous shade of dark grey. "It's supposed to be summer," Callen muttered, as Sam turned down to drive down a steep street, and the car bumped its way over cobblestones that looked slick and dangerous.

"It's only a shower. It'll be over soon," Kensi said from behind him, sounding incredibly upbeat, even by her standards. Callen could only suppose her over-active imagination was already running through the various scenarios she was going to tempt Deeks with once they were finally alone. Some guys had all the luck. They both had screwed-up childhoods, and had been saved by the Catena, but somehow Deeks ended up with a few million dollars in his back pocket along with a father who was alive and who clearly adored him. And on top of all that, he had Kensi. Not that Callen wanted Kensi, although there had been a time when he wouldn't have kicked her out of bed on a dark night, but she was here and Nico wasn't. Life was officially crap.

"Okay – we're nearly there. Try and find us a parking place, will you Callen?" Sam had finally got them safely through the convoluted traffic systems in the centre of town and, much to his credit, hadn't knocked down a single tourist as they strode blithely into the path of oncoming traffic, intent on peering up at the Castle, or pointing out one of the many pipers that seemed to inhabit every street corner.

Callen started looking for an empty spot as the y cruised along the street. "Stop. Stop right here, Sam."

The smoke must have done more damage to his eyes than he thought, because Callen could have sworn that the woman walking along the pavement was familiar. He yanked open the car door and started running after her, thinking he must be dreaming, and yet certain he'd know that ass anywhere, especially the way it sashayed along. He pounded along the street after her and reached out, just as Nico turned around and held her arms open wide.

"Hetty's quite the romantic, isn't she?" Kensi said fondly, watching as Callen pulled Nico into a kiss that seemed to go on forever.

"She has her moments. You think they're going to do that all day?"

"Probably." Sam put two fingers into his mouth and gave a piercing whistle. "Hey – there's laws against kissing in a built-up area. And I've got a young child with me." He pointed to the back seat of the car.

"Very funny." Marty felt like sticking his tongue out, only that would kind of prove Sam's point. "I knew he wouldn't be able to resist making some sort of crack."

Callen ignored them. All of a sudden, he didn't care if EJ had plans to take over the whole world. He didn't even care that it was pouring with rain and he was getting soaked to the skin, because he was with the woman he loved in the most wonderful, magical, downright beautiful city in the world.

THE END

To be continued

in

Never Going Back Again