Distinguishing Features

A missing interlude from Familia

An NCIS FAnfiction


Maxie Kay

The papers felt as if they were burning a hole in his pocket and finally Deeks could no longer resist the temptation to take a better look at them. A quick flick through revealed that Hetty had indeed completed them, just as she had said. There were all the details of his life, laid out in stark black and white, and taking up remarkably little space. He wondered how detailed Callen's form had been, or Sam's – or even Kensi's, for that matter. There was probably a lot more information to capture about them. Still, when all was said and done, Hetty had come looking for him all those months ago; she'd gone out of her way to swing this transfer to NCIS as liaison. And now she wanted him to join the team permanently. All that was required was his signature. It was tempting, it was very tempting indeed. Despite what he had said to Hetty when she had made him this offer, Deeks knew deep down that there was a large part of him that was longing to say 'yes', to make the transfer permanent and official. Working for NCIS wasn't so very different to being a cop after all – he was still out there, helping to protect people, albeit on a different scale. And it wouldn't do any harm to take a closer look at the details, just to make sure they were correct, should he ever decide to sign. Not that he had made a decision, or that he was even vaguely tempted – but still, all those years of legal training still held good: 'never sign anything without reading it first. And then rereading it'. The devil always tended to be in the details, after all.

Scanning through the first page, Deeks thought that everything seemed to be in order: the usual details of full name and date of birth; likewise for his parents, only with space for their dates of death. Hetty had completed that, including the date of Gordon John Brandel's somewhat ignominious end. She'd spared him that much, at least, which was considerate of her. Deeks was pretty sure the rest of the team also knew the bare bones of the story, but thus far no-one had ever mentioned anything about his revelation that at the tender age of 11 he'd shot his father. It probably made him seem like some kind of hard man, he realised. If only they knew the truth… But that was in the past, and this was all about his future. He continued reading.

Bland detail followed bland detail: height, weight, colour of eyes and hair and, not surprisingly, Hetty had got all those correct as well. Sometimes it seemed as if she knew Deeks better than he knew himself. The woman was good, she was damned good. But then he already knew that. And then his eyes fell on a box headed 'Distinguishing Features'. Hetty had written 'none' and then drawn a diagonal line through the box. That counted as 'belt and braces', as his erstwhile conveyancing professor had once said – making sure there was no room for doubt and no scope for amendment. Only something about it rankled…

"You want to share that with us, Deeks?" Kensi was standing behind him, peering over his shoulder. Deeks made an effort to hide the papers with his arm, but it was too late. Clearly Hetty had inculcated some of her mutant ninja techniques into her female agent. Damn the woman. Damn both of the, come to that.

"Not particularly. That's why I didn't. Share with you, that is."

"He's hiding something," Sam called across and Deeks groaned internally. He should have known better that to look at the damned form in here. If he'd had the brains he was born with, he'd have gone off to the restroom and locked himself into a stall, or gone out to his car, or even barricaded himself into the stationery cupboard. You could spend hours in there, as he'd discovered. It was a useful bolt-hole to have and as most people used their PCs for just about everything, you were almost guaranteed to be undisturbed, unless someone had a PostIt note emergency. They were about the only items of stationery used on a regular basis and sometimes Deeks wondered how people had managed without them. It would be considerably more difficult to stick those little notes on Kensi's butt saying 'kick me' and 'I have a great ass and I know it' if you had to go to all the trouble of getting Scotch Tape. Whoever had invented PostIt notes should get some kind of award.

Kensi managed to grab the papers and, of course, she laughed as she read them. This was Kensi, after all, and Deeks really didn't expect anything else. "Distinguishing Features: none," she read out in a particularly penetrating voice. "Well, that makes it official, Deeks. You're not at all distinguished. But then we all knew that anyway, didn't we?"

"Very funny. You want to give me those back?"

"Not really." Kensi kept on reading and suddenly realised what she was holding in her hands. "This is an application form for NCIS. And Hetty's signed it." She looked at him accusingly. "And you weren't going to say anything about it, were you?"

"Not at this precise moment, no. That's why I wasn't saying anything. On purpose. Until you came along and blabbed. It's private, Kensi – alright? It's got nothing to do with you." Deeks grabbed the papers back and stared at her belligerently.

"Hell no – it's not alright. It's got everything to do with me. I'm your partner. I should have a say. Shouldn't I guys?" She looked across at Callen and Sam. "Come on, back me up here. I'm right, aren't I?"

Sam could see she was getting herself worked up and decided to stoke the fires just a little. "It's too late. He's pre-approved. You're stuck with him, Kensi. For better or for worse. Just like a marriage."

"Marriages can be annulled," Deeks said darkly. "Like they never existed. Wiped out. Record expunged. Obliterated, even. And I've not signed anything. Not yet."

"Shut up while you're still ahead," Sam advised kindly. "You're painting yourself into a corner."

"You still should have said something," Kensi said, with a mutinous look on her face. "I had a right to know. It serves you right that you're so undistinguished you're practically invisible."

"That might actually come in handy – let him blend into a crowd." Callen looked at Deeks carefully and shook his head sadly. "As if."

"What do you mean?" All of a sudden, Deeks was unsure if it was better to have lots of distinguishing features, or none at all. Did the lack of any distinguishing features mean you weren't memorable? He had always thought that they wanted to know these sorts of details in the same way that dental records used to be the gold standard of evidential verification – that should your corpse turn up at the side of a highway one day, then they could at least make sure you were buried under the right name. But now he was beginning to wonder. God, it was a fair bet that Kensi, Sam and Callen all had masses of distinguishing features, enough that they needed a paper apart to catalogue them all. And here he was with a grand total of zero. Great. Maybe that meant he was never meant to be an NCIS agent?

Not sure where the inspiration for this one came from... but the plot bunnines have been nibbling at my toes for couple of weeks now. And I shouldn't be doing this, not while I have another two stories on the go - but what the heck? Like? Dislike? Please let me know!