Never Going Back Again: Chapter Forty-six

And here we are - finally at the end of a very long story-arc indeed. This one stretched out over at least 2 1/2 stories by my calculations.

So many thanks to everyone who has been following this long and somewhat complicated story and especially to everyone who has reviewed.

So, with no further ado - read on and I hope you enjoy.

"Come on," Deeks slung his arm around Kensi, unwilling to let go of her for even one minute. They seemed to have spent far too much time apart and he wanted to make up for it. "Let's go see Sam. Then maybe we might swing by the hospital? Just in case. I'd hate to invalidate that medical insurance policy of Hetty's by being careless."

"How very thoughtful of you, Mr Deeks." She studied him carefully, trying to ascertain if he really should go straight to the hospital, but apart from the way he was clearly favouring his ribs,and had a black eye and a split lip, she was satisified that there were no injuries requiring immediate attention. A few less kisses from Ms Blye might stop that puffiness about his mouth from getting any worse, but Hetty was realistic and knew there wasn't a snowball's chance in hell of that happening.

Ziva had other ideas. "Kensi and I need five minutes. Just five minutes. Perhaps only three. You should stay here." Her voice and indeed her stance gave the undeniable impression that she intended to take no prisoners, and woe betide anyone who got in her way.

"Exactly what do you have in mind, my dear?" Hetty asked charmingly, having a very good idea indeed.

"Gibbs will tell you. When I send him back here." Ziva made for the steps, only to find Callen standing in her way.

"I don't think so. Standing by your man is all very well and good…"

"He's not my man," Ziva interrupted. They were about the same size, she calculated. She could have Callen on the ground and crying for mercy in three moves. If he was very lucky, she would only break his arm. In two places. Which was rather less than she had planned for Nicole.

"… but it's not going to happen," Callen continued, as if she had not spoken. "Not on my watch. That's not how we do things around here."

"It is my right. He is my partner." Ziva was like a tiger protecting her young: eyes blazing and willing to do anything.

"If you're talking about Nicole, then she's not worth it. And anyway, I'd rather have you here," DiNozzo said quietly and she spun around. "Seriously, Ziva." He held out his hand and smiled. And, wonder of wonders, Ziva smiled back and her whole body language altered beyond recognition.

There is a time when a strategic withdrawal is not only necessary, it is obligatory and this was one of those occasions. Although Tony and Ziva were still standing on opposite sides of the gloomy basement, no one had any doubts that the moment they were alone that distance would be breached, along with all the defences Ziva had so carefully erected around her heart.

"True love," Marty sighed dramatically as they emerged into the fresh air and sunshine. "Ziva really wanted to cream Nicole, didn't she?" He didn't sound too bothered about that, Kensi thought with relief.

"I wanted too as well," she confessed. "But I wanted to be with you more."

"Sensible lady." He turned his face up to the sun and rejoiced silently. It was over. This whole long, convoluted mess that had started so long ago with the deaths of those Marines on Mount Clark had finally ended. Along the way, he and Callen had found out details from their respective pasts that had been buried for too long, and he'd even found his father again. It remained to be seen what would happen there. Marty was certain of one thing though, Max Gentry had definitely made his last appearance. He was never going back there again. No, the past was what it was, and it couldn't be changed. The important thing was to recognise that and then move on. And no man had ever had a better incentive to move on than he did. Because he had Kensi and they were going to have a golden future. All the rest was irrelevant.

Callen decided this was not the time to explain that Nicole was several sandwiches short of a picnic. Not that she ever appeared to have been the sharpest pencil in the box to start out with. For some reason, he still couldn't shake the image of that kitten out of his head. Maybe when he and Nico found their house together, they should get a cat? And he realised what that meant – a joint commitment, a signal that this was more than just an affair. A cat sounded really good. Maybe even two cats, so they could play together? As long as Nico liked cats? Of course, there was the definite possibility she might prefer a baby. Callen considered that and decided that a baby would be good too, but he definitely wanted those cats. There was no harm in starting small and working up. They could kind of practice with the cats, he thought.

Gibbs was leaning against the car waiting for them. "LAPD took the suspect away," he said laconically. "Saves us doing the paperwork. Or being shown up by Malibu Ken over there." He gestured towards Deeks, who was showing a considerable amount of tanned leg.

"You're hardly one to talk, Jethro," Hetty said tartly. "At least my agent had the good sense to have his underpants on, which is more than can be said for yours."

"Pity your other agent can't keep her hands off him then, isn't it? Gievn half a chance and they'd be down around his ankles."

Kensi did a double take, never having realised that Gibbs actually had a sense of humour. Marty just looked smug. Clearly Gibbs was jealous - and who could blame him?

A smile of deep contentment crept across Hetty's face. "If you think that's bad, just wait till you see what your team is getting up to in that basement." It was like watching two children arguing over whose Dad was bigger and better, Callen thought. Only they were arguing about whose team had the higher sex drive. It was surreal. Not that Gibbs looked too bothered, in fact he almost looked relieved to hear the news, kind of like he'd been expecting it almost.

Satisfied that she had managed to get in the final word, Hetty gestured towards Callen's car. "We'll see you back at the Mission, Jethro. Once you've prised them apart. Do you want to borrow a tire iron?"

"He might be quite some time," Marty said, with quiet jubilation as Gibbs made no sign of moving from his position. DiNozzo was a decent guy; he deserved to be happy. "I'm starving," he announced with surprise, as Callen started the drive back down to Santa Monica. Judging by the sun, it was past mid-day and he'd not had anything except coffee since last night's pizza.

"Me too." Kensi was still holding on his hand and her other hand was stroking his bare leg. The front seat passengers were doing a very good job of pretending not to notice and were largely successful in their endeavours. "I haven't been able to eat for days," she confessed. "Not since you left. Every time I even looked at food, I just felt sick. I actually was sick this morning."

Hetty leant back across her seat with an unreadable expression on her face. "I don't suppose there's a possibility you could be pregnant, is there?" She looked at their stunned faces as Kensi frantically began to calculate dates in her mind and then resorted to counting on her fingers. "Oh heavens to Betsy! You have been taking precautions, haven't you?"

"Not exactly," Marty said slowly and a smile crept across his face. "Not at all, actually. It's a good thing we're already engaged. All we've got to do now is set a date for the wedding."


To be continued in "Slipping Through My Fingers."