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Hetty moved closer to the bed, a smile softening her face. "May I?" There was a yearning quality to her voice.

"Of course." Kensi transferred the baby across carefully and watched as Hetty took him into her arms with accustomed ease, adjusting the bundle carefully and scrutinising the little face intently.

"Oh my. Aren't you just like your Daddy?" There was no mistaking the fact the rosebud mouth was definitely pouting.

"Only cuter." Nell was at her side in an instant, transfixed by the baby in all his miniature perfection. "Just look at those little feet – they are so sweet. I want one, Callen – I definitely want one." There was definitely mischief in her eyes, but it was mixed in along with a good deal of seriousness.

"I don't think Deeks is that cute," Sam commented wryly. "Congratulations, by the way. And I'd just like to say that I am forbidding you ever to get pregnant again, Kensi. I don't think any of us could ever go through anything like that ever again."

"I had to go through nine whole months, Sam," Kensi reminded him. "But he was worth it. He was worth every single minute of it." Despite everything, she would go through it all again in an instant. Looking across at Hetty, Kensi realised that she was already longing to have her baby back in her arms again.

"Just you wait until he keeps you up half the night. And that's on a good night." The funny thing was that Sam would give anything to have those times back again. Babies grew up so fast, they were tiny infants one moment and the next time you looked they were getting on that school bus and disappearing out of your life.

"Don't be so cynical, Mr Hannah. Let them discover the joys of parenthood all by themselves." Clocking the look on his face, Hetty raised an eyebrow. "Is this your way of telling me I'm being greedy?" She was reluctant to hand the baby over, but consoled herself with the prospect of many more such moments. When times were darkest, there was something about holding a brand-new life in your arms that gave you hope for the future, that convinced you there was still some good in the world.

"Oh, go on then. If I must." With a show of reluctance that fooled nobody, Sam held out his arms. The baby looked tiny in his massive hands; tiny, but very safe. "Welcome to the world, little man aand may you always be blessed with peace and happiness. I'm your Uncle Sam and I'm the one to come to when you want some sound advice."

Kensi's heart melted as she watched Sam talk nonsense to the baby – her baby. It hadn't quite sunk in yet that she had a son or even that she was a mother. But then she had the rest of her life to get used to that. Nothing was ever going to be the same again – it was going to be better.

"Thanks very much." Marty tried to look offended and failed completely. "He has got a father, you know."

"Hey, I know he's got you, poor little guy. I also know you. That's why this kid is going to need a good role model. Like me."

"I don't want a bald son, thank you very much."

"Right now, he's the next best thing to bald." Sam ran one finger over the fine strands of blond hair.

"It'll grow – eventually."

"You're not really going to call him 'Densi', are you?"

"It suits him. Go on – admit it."

Sam had to agree. The child was unmistakeably Densi. He couldn't possibly be anything else.

"And it's a really cool name. It works on so many levels – he could be a rock star, an astronaut or even a surfer with a name like that." Marty was on a roll.

Kensi felt it was time to intervene. "Or he could just be a normal little boy. But officially he's going to be called David. David Martin, after his Daddy. And just in case he wants to do something normal when he grows up."

"With you two for parents, there's not much chance of that happening, is there?" Callen could no longer resist the lure of the baby and joined the group who were all but worshipping him

Sam regarded his partner gravely. "Exactly when were you and Nell planning on telling us about your little liaison? I'm your partner, G – you shouldn't hold out on me."

"I think Callen's been busy holding Nell," Marty remarked slyly and was gratified to see the way they both went bright red. "Aren't you going to hold him, Callen?"

"No. No thank you. I might drop him or something." Callen backed rapidly off.

"Wimp. You're going to need to get some practice in before you and Nell come over to babysit." Marty retrieved his son from Sam and cradled him in his arms. "I can't quite believe it, you know." He bent his head and kissed the baby's forehead and Kensi felt as if her heart was going to burst with a mixture of pride and love for them both.

"In about sixteen years' time, Densi's going to look at you and say exactly the same thing, you know. And that's when he's going to come running to his Uncle Sam for some help." Sam pulled out his cellphone. "How about we get a photograph of the Deeks' family?"

"So, can we expect an announcement from you and Ms Jones any time soon, Mr Callen?" Hetty watched as Marty settled himself on the bed next to Kensi and gave her the baby to hold. They looked so incredibly happy. More than that, they looked complete.

"It's early days," Nell protested, just a little too quickly. Luckily, the camera flash disturbed the baby out of his sleep and he started wailing. The cries rapidly increased in volume.

"Starting to have second thoughts, Nell?" Callen asked, trying not to smile at the sight of Kensi in a blind panic as her attempts at soothing the baby proved completely ineffectual.

"Nope. How about you?" She looked him straight in the eye.

"I think I'm going to need a lot of practice before I'm ready for that." Callen watched in interest as Kensi gave up the struggle. Marty was now pacing the room, patting his son gently on the back, with a helpless expression on his face. It was clearly time to escape. "How about we go somewhere quieter to talk about it?" he suggested.

"Good idea." Sam clapped him jovially on the back. "Let's leave the happy couple to experience all the many joys of parenthood." Linking one arm with Nell and the other with Callen, he beat a hasty retreat into the blessed silence of the corridor.

Callen was not at all sure that his eardrums were still intact. "How can something so small make so much noise?"

"He's only getting started. Believe me, that pair have got no idea what they're in for. No idea at all."

Hetty took a look at the photo Sam had sent to her own phone. "Oh, I think they know exactly what the future holds. And right now, their future is called 'Densi'."

Everything was about to change. But Kensi and Marty had everything they'd ever wanted.

Their First Night Home

"Well?" Kensi looked at Marty. "What do you think?"

He studied the baby curiously. "I think so."

"Thinking isn't good enough – we have to be sure."

Marty bent forward for a closer look. "I'm almost positive." He watched intently. "Yes – look. I definitely saw his chest rise there." He straightened up with a sigh. "He's definitely breathing."

"I think I prefer it when he's crying," Kensi said. "At least I know he's still alive." She hovered in the doorway. "I don't think I can leave him. Not in there, all by himself. What if something happens?"

"We're going to be right next door. We'll hear him. And I promise I'll get break the record for sprinting the second he opens his mouth. But right now I need to sleep. Please, Kensi?"

"I'm kind of tired too," she admitted, and let herself be led through to the bedroom. "This is scary, isn't it?"

"Absolutely terrifying." Marty was peeling off his clothes with great speed. "How can something so small make me feel so scared?"

"Because you love him and you'd do anything for him?" Kensi sank onto the bed with a sigh.

"Guess so. Kind of like I'd do anything for you. Anything at all." It felt so good to hold her in his arms again, so incredibly right.

"Anything?" Kensi's hand traced an all-too familiar path.

"Maybe not quite right now," he admitted. "For once I really am too tired."

"Thank God for that! How about you just hold me then?"

"With pleasure." Her head was resting on his shoulder and everything was just as it should be. "You're still the one I want – still the one I'll always want, " Marty whispered and the still, dark night seemed to enfold them.

Kensi snuggled in a little closer, already half-asleep. This was heaven, lying in the arms of the man she loved and with their son sleeping peacefully next door.

And then the cry of a hungry baby shattered the peace.


To be continued in "Hang Onto Yourself."