"We've got a baby girl." It still felt wonderful, every time he said it. "A beautiful baby girl." Callen's heart felt so full of love and pride he thought it might just burst out of his chest. The world had never seemed more beautiful or perfect as when he looked at his wife and new daughter. Everything seemed to be infused with new meaning and especial purpose. It was as if he had been waiting his entire life for this moment and he could only wonder that nobody had ever sat him down and told him how incredible it would be to hold your child for the first time. It was quite simply an experience that could never be surpassed.
"We've both got daughters?" Sam's grin almost stretched from ear to ear. "Unbelievable. They'll probably grow up hating each other, of course."
"You think my kid's going anywhere near your kid?" Callen punched Sam in the bicep in sheer delight. "I feel like I could go run a marathon right now."
"That's because I did all the hard work," Nico pointed out, a trifle wearily, despite the radiant happiness that shone out from her face.
Sam bent down to embrace her. "Congratulations, Mommy."
For the first time ever, Callen was amazed to see Nico blush. "You wouldn't believe how long I've waited to hear someone call me that," she confessed.
"Get used to it. Pretty soon you'll find you forget you ever had a name of your own." Sam took another look at the baby. "She is so pretty. Of course, she takes after her Mommy." As a two-times father, he knew that all babies are, by definition, adorable, even if only to their doting parents. But this baby was rather sweet, in a pink and rather crumpled way. Already he had forgotten how tiny a new born infant really was.
"Oh, I think she's going to have her Daddy's hair." Nico let one finger brush lightly across the faint fuzz on top of the baby's head.
"How can you tell?" Sam looked at his partner curiously. "He's not got much in the way of hair, has he?"
"Highly amusing. If I wasn't in such a good mood, I'd…"
"What? Challenge me to some one-on-one? You're never going to win, Callen, so just accept defeat gracefully."
The paramedic was clearly growing bored by their well-honed patter. "It would be good to get Mom and baby to the hospital sometime today."
"You ride with your family, Callen. I'll follow in the car and give you a ride back home."
"Don't forget the baby seat!" Callen called, as Sam started to close the doors. His family. For the first time ever he could say these words and know that they were true. It was the best feeling in the world. He had a family at last and he belonged. Never again would he be alone, because at long last G Callen had a family of his own.
Sam stood and watched as the ambulance drew away and then walked back into the house, where Kensi and Deeks were standing with slightly dazed expressions, looking at the chaos that surrounded them.
"That rug is never going to be the same again." Deeks started to roll it up, in an attempt to get rid of at least some of the incriminating evidence.
"The wonder and magic of childbirth not working for you, Deeks?" Sam couldn't help noticing that Deeks looked a good deal paler than normal.
"I don't want to talk about it." Wonder and magic? More like blood and guts and agony.
"He saw rather more than he'd bargained," Kensi informed Sam. "And he's having a bit of a problem dealing with it."
"Excuse me? That was my best friend back there."
"You used to play doctors and nurses, didn't you?"
"Yeah, but we were a lot younger and a lot more innocent back then. And the blood was ketchup." Tucking the rug under his arm, Deeks stalked out of the room with as much dignity as he could muster.
"Innocent? Is it just me who finds it hard to think of Deeks ever being innocent?" The guy might have a deceptively angelic face, but Lucifer had been an angel too.
"It's just you," Kensi assured him "Although he does have his moments."
"So what are they calling her?"
"Not Samantha, that's for sure." Deeks had heard the crack about his innocence (or lack thereof) and felt he was owed a shot back in return.
"Nico was talking about Constanza, but Callen put his foot down."
"Mozart's wife," Deeks amplified, for Sam's benefit.
"I'm not entirely uneducated.
"Really?" Deeks quirked his eyebrow and was satisfied that the scores were even and his honour had been duely defended.
"Really. And I'm not surprised Callen objected to Constanza either. Like is too short to go through it with a name like that. Although Connie would be quite cute." Sam caught the expression on Deeks' face. "What? You have to think of things like that when yo're choosing a name for your baby. You don't just print out a list and then stick a pin in it randomly. It's important – what you're called. A name says a lot about you."
"I wonder what the lack of a name says about Callen?"
It seemed as opportune moment as any to change the subject. "So – how was the honeymoon?"
"Wonderful," Kensi breathed.
Deeks rolled his eyes. "Expensive."
"I told you not to give Kensi her own credit card. You were warned and now you've only got yourself to blame."
"It got a lot of use. I don't think there was a single day went past that she didn't buy something."
"I bought you a wonderful present, Sam. And Denise too. Plus the children, of course."
"That's alright then. So the shopping was great. And the rest?"
"The rest was great too." Deeks grinned at his wife. "I think we'll always remember it."
"I think you're probably right." Just like another couple, they would always have Paris.
By the time they had finally arrived at their hotel, Kensi had run out of superlatives. Paris was everything she had ever dreamt of – and then some. She had spent the entire journey from Charles De Gaulle airport darting from one side of the limousine to the other, gazing out of the windows in rapt fascination. Her first glimpse of the Eiffel tower had nearly sent her into raptures.
"All my life, I've dreamt of coming to Paris and climbing the Eiffel Tower – and now I'm actually here"
"And you can climb it – if you want. By yourself. But I'm going to get the lift up, because I've dreamt all my life of coming to Paris with my beautiful wife and I don't want her going home a widow because I've had a heart attack."
"But I'd be such a beautiful widow. And I'm sure they make designer mourning clothes."
"They probably do. But wear them to someone else's funeral – okay? Not mine."
"Fair enough, but I don't plan on ever going to your funeral – because you're not going to die."
"I'm going to die one day, Kensi."
"Not any day soon." Kensi turned away from the window and looked at him beseechingly. "Promise me you're going to start being a bit more careful?"
"I'm always careful. It's just that things happen to me."
"I know. Your father said you were always accident prone – even as a child."
"I had an elder brother. Enough said. You don't know how lucky you were growing up an only child." His face grew solemn. "I don't mean that – Chris was great. I still think about him all the time. It seemed strange not to have him at our wedding."
"There were too many people missing." Kensi slipped her hand into his. "But they were in our hearts."
They settled back and watched as Paris began to reveal more of herself to them, in all her glory and beauty.
"We should come back when the chestnuts are in bloom and all the trees are bearing their candles."
"Wow. That was really poetic, Marty." Kensi looked impressed.
"Not original, I'm afraid. It was something my Mom used to say. She loved Paris – showed me all around. We used to come here all the time when I was kid."
"And now you can show me."
"It's a deal. And we discover new things together. I've never been to the Louvre since they built the pyramid."
"We'll make new memories."
That was what honeymoons were all about, after all. As well as spending long periods in bed. And the bed in the bridal suite was everything any self respecting bride had ever dreamt of – and then some.
"A four poster?" Kensi stood in the doorway, unable to move. "We've got a four poster bed?"
"So it would appear."
"Oh my God."
"We can change it, if you like? Get another room?"
"Don't you even suggest it. This is the most incredible room I've ever seen in my life. And the bed…" She wandered over, as if in a dream and sat stroked the silk cover with something approaching reverence. "This is the most beautiful bed I've ever seen."
"It's not the bed you're supposed to get excited about – but the man in the bed."
"Him I can see any time. Oh my God. Have you seen this?"
Marty flopped on his back beside her and stared up at the underside of the canopy. "I was kind of hoping there might be a mirror up there."
A sharp punch to his arm greeted that remark. "Philistine. It's Aphrodite, Atlanta and Apollo."
"Do all their names begin with the same letter?"
"Idiot." Kensi studied the painting more carefully. "Apollo looks a bit like you."
"Aphrodite looks a lot like you. If you were naked." The hopeful tone in Marty's voice was unmistakeable.
"You've no idea how to be subtle, have you?"
"None at all," he agreed happily.
"Well, you're just going to have to wait until tonight. Because right now, I want to go out and see Paris. I want to go to a café and sit and drink café au lait and watch the world go by. And plan everything we're going to do."
"You're turning me down for a cup of coffee?"
"Bet you thought you'd see the day? The biter is bit." Kensi bounced up. "I'm going to have a quick shower and get changed."
"I'm going to lie here and pout and think of all that might have been." The way he had things figured, there was no need to go out. Marty's own plans revolved solely around this room, and more particularly, this bed.
The visit to the café had lead in turn to a trip to Notre Dame, which almost left Kensi speechless as the building soared up from L'Isle de la Cite, majestic and yet welcoming, a poetic symphony created out of stone.
"We should move to Paris. I'd even convert."
"Paris is worth a Mass?"
She took hold of his arm and wrapped it around her, snuggling in. "Definitely. But Paris would be nothing without you. Paris is beautiful – but it's seeing it with you that makes it all perfect."
"And you're the most beautiful woman in Paris. Everyone is jealous – just look at them watching us."
"That's because you're kissing me in a cathedral, Marty. They're not jealous – they're shocked."
"Paris is the city of lovers. This is all quite normal."
Still, it had seemed expedient to leave at that point, so they wandered along the banks of the Seine as dusk began to fall and the dark waters began to reflect the lights that went on, one by one. Beside a wall, a small bunch of flowers, bound up in a tricolour ribbon lay on the sidewalk, beneath a bullet hole that marred the stonework and marked the spot where resistance fighter had been shot during the occupation. There was so much history all around them that it was easy to forget that Paris had been occupied, for the city did not speak loudly of that part of her past. But the memories were still there, even if they were unobtrusive. The people never forgot, and still paid tribute to the fallen, over 60 years afterwards. Sometimes, it was impossible to escape the reminder that death was everywhere. Marty shivered slightly, and wondered if he was being overly superstitious, and then decided that it was probably just the change in time zones screwing up his body clock.
"How about we get some dinner and then go back to the hotel?"
"That sounds perfect." Dinner in Paris – on honeymoon. This was the stuff of which dreams were made. And tomorrow they could go shopping. Kensi's mouth began to water as she thought of all the great design houses. But before then, there was tonight. And she had something very special tucked away in her suitcase, carefully swathed in tissue paper, something that she'd bought especially for this first evening in Paris.
"Any preferences?" there seemed to be restaurants offering food from every corner of the globe as they walked along the streets, arm in arm, like so many other people who were out enjoying the mild evening.
"Something typically French." Her own French was decidedly of the schoolgirl variety, but Kensi was confident she could navigate a menu successfully. And she definitely knew how to order champagne. What else would one drink in Paris to celebrate the fact she was married to the most wonderful man on earth?
"I love Paris in the springtime," Kensi sang, as she walked back into their suite. Not one to be outdone, Marty felt compelled to add his own offering:
"I love Paris in the fall.
I love Kensi more than anything
When she's wearing nothing at all."
"That doesn't scan." It was not exactly in tune either, but then that was possibly the champagne.
"Which just goes to show you can't have everything." Marty sat down on the bed and patted it invitingly. "Well? How about it then?"
"They warned me about this, you know. My friends. They said 'just you wait till that ring's on your finger, Kensi. That's the beginning of the end. No romance, just wham, bam, thank you ma'am."
"I never whammed. And I'm pretty sure I never banged either." He kicked his shoes off. "You'd have told me if I banged, wouldn't you?"
"You get my point. Which is why I'm going to make sure it never happens. You are going to be romantic, whether you like it or not."
"They warned me too, you know. They said 'just you wait, Marty. Once Kensi's got that ring on her finger, she's going to lead you a dog's life."
"And what did you say to that?"
"Good boy. Now, you stay right there."
She disappeared into the bathroom. By the time she finally emerged, the room was lit by a multitude of candles and the bed was covered in rose petals.
"Welcome to Paris, Kensi. Welcome to our new life. This is where is all begins."
Marty was standing by the windows, holding out a glass of champagne and in the distance the Eiffel Tower was lit up like a slender beacon, shining a pure white light.
"I'll drink to that." She glided forward, and the silk of her full-length negligee shimmered in the candlelight.
"Wow. That was worth waiting for."
Made of the finest, most transparent silk in a pale rose, the gown clung to every single curve, emphasising and enhancing her body. Kensi's hair was pinned back quite simply, with just a few tendrils escaping to curl around her face and her eyes shone more brightly than any star.
"You like it?" One hand lifted up the skirt invitingly.
"I love it."
This was what he'd been waiting for his entire life, Marty thought. Everything he had ever wanted was right here in this room.
"Come here." He put down the champagne and held out his arms.
"I thought you'd never ask."
As Kensi drew closer, he could see that the gown was so sheer that it was diaphanous, and that the top was made of the most delicate lace imaginable and barely contained her breasts.
This was where it all began: their new life together. Nothing could possibly touch them, as long as they had one another and their love. They would always have Paris – and each other.
Ah - Paris. Possibly the most beautiful city in the world. And where I spent my own honeymoon. I think I'd rather have the one Kensi and Deeks are going to ahve though! Expect randy plot bunny to pop up soon!