Okay - this is the last chapter! Hope you enjoy and thank you once again to everyone who has been reading and reviewing.
"I still can't get used to Kensi with short hair." Sam looked across the lot to where Kensi was waiting by the car. "Or with bangs. She looks completely different."
Rather than just getting her hair tidied up, Kensi had decided to go for a completely new look and had walked out of the hairdresser's looking like a completely different woman. Her hair now just touched her shoulders in a glossy bob, and the deep bangs seemed to highlight her dark eyes.
"I still can get used to Kensi and Deeks being together." Callen sounded aggrieved.
"Give it a rest. Just because you've got a thing for Kensi, there's no need to be bitter."
"I don't have a thing for Kensi." Callen caught the look of incredulity Sam threw him and decided he had better amend this. "Not really. But you must have wondered – haven't you?"
"Wondered about you and Kensi? No, I haven't – because the whole idea is ridiculous."
"That's not what I meant." Surely Sam had indulged in the odd fantasy about Kensi? Just because he was married didn't mean he was dead from the neck down.
Sam ignored him, knowing very well what his partner was hinting at. He was not going there. "You and Kensi would be all wrong. You're more like brother and sister. Much older brother and much younger sister. Or father and daughter."
"Anyway, if Kensi was going to go for older men, I'm much more her type."
"Don't make me laugh. And just what is Kensi's type?"
"Deeks is," Sam said succinctly. "Young and hot."
"I remember the day," Callen said sadly.
"Good. You hold on to your memories, G. Pretty soon they'll start to go too. Along with your hair. Which is starting to get a bit thin at the crown." He cast a meaningful look.
"You're a bundle of laughs today, do you know that? But you'll be laughing on the other side of your face soon"
"I reckon." Callen reckoned it was definitely time to take that smug smile of his partner's face. "Two hundred."
"Two hundred what?"
"Two hundred dollars. As in 'you owe me two hundred bucks'. That bet we had – remember? Or is your memory going too?"
"We're back to the 'thing' again, aren't we?"
"We are. And I was right." Callen felt his gloat was fully justified.
"I take it back: you're like an elephant. You never forget – especially when there's money at stake. Do moths fly out when you open your wallet?"
"Don't be a sore loser." Callen watched as Sam counted out the bills. "Anyway, I've got plans for this."
"Am I going to like these plans?"
"Stop thinking about yourself. This is Christmas Eve, right?"
"With deductive skills like that, you're going to go far."
Callen ignored that remark. After all, he could afford to be generous. "And Hetty's arranged for Kensi and Deeks to stay in the lodge while he recuperates."
"How come we never get offers like that?"
"Maybe because we're not a couple? Anyway, Kensi's been stocking up on food and drink for when she finally springs Deeks from the hospital, but there's one thing she hasn't thought of." Callen outlined his plan.
"You really are quite a romantic at heart, aren't you?" Sam was seriously impressed with his partner.
"I try my best. Sadly, it's usually wasted."
This year, like last year and the year before that, Callen would spent Christmas day with Sam and his family. One day, it would be nice to spend it with someone else. He didn't grudge Kensi and Deeks their happiness – not much, anyway – but one day it would be nice to experience it for himself. In the meantime, Callen thought he could try to make the day special for his team mates. He might be jealous – but he wasn't bitter. Not really.
"It's like I've got this whole new woman." Deeks let his hand curve around the newly-exposed nape of Kensi's neck.
"You like it?" She had been nervous at first, but had finally abandoned herself to the ministrations of the hairdresser, who insisted she would look great. And he had been right.
"I love it. You look amazing."
"I feel amazing." Kensi leant back contentedly, letting her body mould into his. "I feel like everything is brand new."
It had snowed again, so that the lodge was surrounded by a pristine blanket of white that sparkled in the dying rays of the sun. Inside the lodge, with the fire blazing away in the hearth, it felt as if they were the only people in the world.
"Still wish we were back in LA?"
"Why would I want to be back in LA when you're here?" Last Christmas, Kensi had made the mistake of pretending that she was going away for the holidays, in an attempt to make Deeks jealous, only for him to confound her with a gift. A really thoughtful gift, that had made Kensi feel terrible, because she hadn't got him anything. Her plan had been to spin Deeks along for a little while longer, and then to turn up at the homeless shelter where he volunteered, but that present had ruined everything. So Christmas last year had been a lonely affair, spent alone in her apartment, being very aware that the biter had been bitten and that her plans had backfired in the worst possible way. Somehow, Kensi had not been able to confess to her ruse, and she had suffered for it. This Christmas was going to be different.
"If they'd let me out yesterday, we still could have got back home."
"If you hadn't kept running a temperature, you mean?"
There had been an anxious few days when Deeks had spiked a high fever, and had babbled nonsense before the doctors finally got the infection under control. During that time, Kensi had been equally out of her head with worry, refusing to move away from his bed except when absolutely necessary. She had spent a lot of time alone with her thoughts, and it had her see everything with fresh eyes. That time had allowed everything crystallise into perfect clarity, so that all the obstacles she had once thought were insurmountable had simply flown away.
"If wishes were horse, then beggars would ride, Marty."
"If we came back up here in the springtime, we could ride." That hopeful look was back on his face again.
"I don't ride." Kensi looked at him challengingly. "I'm thirty years old and I've managed quite nicely up until now without knowing how to ride. I reckon I can manage for the next thirty years too."
"Does that go for skiing too?"
"You are not skiing for the rest of this season. You heard what the doctors said. So we can discuss that next year." At which point Kensi had every intention of saying 'no way' to any future proposal that she should indulge in snow sports. Deeks could ski and snow board to his heart's content, and she would go shopping, or sip hot chocolate and watch him throw himself down the side of a mountain, if that was what made him happy. Life was all about compromises, after all.
"You're going to keep bossing me around, aren't you?"
"Good." It had been a long time since anyone had cared enough to fuss over him, and Deeks was enjoying the attention. It made him realise just what he had been missing for all these years.
"I reckon you should go to bed now."
Okay, there was a limit to how much fussing he could take. And this was it. There was tender ministration, and then there was molly-coddling and downright interfering. "I know I'm just out of hospital, but I don't need a nap."
"Who said anything about sleeping?" Kensi uncoiled herself and stood up. "I've been sleeping alone for far too long And that bed is definitely too big without you." She held out her hand invitingly. "And I've missed you. I've missed you so much."
"Missed you too, baby girl." This sounded like exactly what the doctor had ordered. "You'll have to be gentle with me. And remember that I might be a bit out of practice." There was a mischievous sparkle in his eyes that had been missing for far too long.
"Oh, don't worry, I'll take care of you. I'll take very good care of you indeed."
"Is that a promise?"
"Definitely". Kensi pushed him down onto the edge of the bed. "You just sit there like a good boy." She knelt down and began to take off his shoes.
"Do I have to be a good boy? I'm better at being a bad boy."
"When you're good, you're very, very good – and when you're bad, you're better?"
"It's been so long, I think I'm going to have to start getting to know you all over again." Kensi took his bare foot and laid it in her lap. "Now, where should I start?"
"How about here?" Deeks laid his finger on his lips.
"What a good idea."
It still felt like a miracle – the way she felt in his arms, the way their bodies just melted together and fitted into each other so perfectly. The first touch of Kensi's lips seemed to send a jolt straight through his body, searing down into his heart and then arcing down into his groin. Nobody had ever felt like Kensi, and nobody had ever made him feel like Kensi. Kissing herwas like experiencing the end of the world, with all the attendant passion, and tenderness and promise of more to come.
"You are wearing entirely too many clothes," Kensi commented.
"Maybe you should do something about that?" With one arm out of commission, Deeks was happy to let her take care of matters.
"Maybe I should. And maybe I will." Kensi took off her own sweater first, and then her jeans, just for good measure.
"Nice lingerie." Dark red satin, that made her skin glow – what was there not to like? "And you're still wearing the pendant."
"I never take it off," Kensi assured him, tugging gently at the hem of his shirt and then easing it off over his head.
"You like it that much?"
"I love it. And I love the man who gave it to me even more."
Kensi was kneeling beside him, looking straight into his eyes, so that Deeks felt he could drown in her gaze. "Really. I love everything about you."
She pushed him back gently, so that they were both lying on the bed, and she was unbuckling his belt, and kissing his stomach as she pulled off his jeans. And then they were lying together as the mystic twilight hovered outside, the dying embers of the day as dusk slowly ceded to darkness, skin touching skin, discovering each other all over again, experiencing once more how just a kiss could take you halfway to heaven.
"I don't think I knew what love was – not really. Not till we were out there on that mountain and I knew I'd do anything for you." Deeks was aching for her, needing her so badly and the caress of her fingers along his inner thigh, the way they teased and tantalised the fine line of hair that ran down from his navel was driving him to distraction.
"I felt exactly the same way." Kensi gasped as Deeks kissed her breast, and then cupped it in his hand, drawing her nipple into his mouth and suckling. Her hands halted for a second, fluttering to a standstill as she abandoned herself to his touch and then she bent her head down to find the tender spot just underneath his ear, the one that always made him react as if he had been hardwired into the main electricity current.
"Not fair." Deeks was laughing at her, and she was laughing back, even as her hands moved to hold him and she heard that sigh, that groan of utter contentment, like she'd given him all the stars in the sky to play with.
"I never said I would play fair." Lying side by side, looking into one another's eyes, the world seemed very far away. Kensi moved slightly, and eased her leg over his hip. "Let's take this real slow."
"I can't promise anything." She was warm and welcoming, and so moist it was like sliding into nirvana. Nothing had ever felt as good as this, nothing could ever compare to this: this hot, unbroken circle of love.
"Just promise me you'll always remember this." Kensi cupped his face tenderly. "This moment, and how perfect everything is."
They were lying so closely intertwined that it felt as if they were truly one, that there was no beginning and no end. The past had informed them, made them who they were, so that it was as if their entire lives had been leading up to this moment and they could reach out and touch infinity.
"I really do love you, Kensi."
"I love you too, Marty."
The future was waiting them, just around the corner and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow held infinite promise. All they had to do was to go there together. On Christmas Eve, when the world waited to celebrate the birth of the Saviour, they had found the true meaning of life on earth: love. It was that simple.
"I can hear something. Listen." Kensi sat up in bed and switched on the light.
"I told you before: Santa won't come unless you're asleep." Deeks watched resignedly as Kensi pulled back the covers and reached for her robe.
"There's definitely someone outside." Her gun was already in her hand.
"Now you're making me feel guilty." Shrugging into his own robe, Deeks grabbed his gun and followed her.
Edging forward cautiously, Kensi wondered what new catastrophe was about to befall them. "What can you do with one arm out of commission?"
"I could hit them with my cast?"
"So you do admit there's someone out there?"
"There's one way to find out." Deeks pulled back the curtains. "Come here, Kensi." He pointed out to the deck. "Looks like Santa has paid us a visit."
There was a small tree placed directly in front of the picture windows, and it was ablaze with tiny white lights, while silver snowflake ornaments shimmered against the bleak darkness of the night and a large red ribbon was tied around the trunk.
"It's beautiful." She looked at him enquiringly. "When did you arrange this?"
"Don't look at me. I'm as surprised as you are." There was an envelope lying on the deck and Deeks nodded towards it. "That might just be a clue."
"You stay here," Kensi said fiercely. "I don't want you getting sick again." She dived outside, grabbed the envelope and darted back in again, shivering dramatically.
"Want me to warm you up?" Deeks pulled open his robe, and then followed suit with Kensi's, hugging her closely, relishing the feeling of her skin against his own.
"Any excuse." She didn't resist, rather she welcomed his embrace.
"Exactly." He savoured the moment for as long as possible, before curiosity got the better of him. "Are we going to open it then? Or maybe you want to play a guessing game?"
"I can think of much better games to play with you." Pulling her robe back around herself, Kensi ripped open the envelope and pulled out a card.
"To Kensi and Deeks,
from Hetty, Sam and Callen."
"They know, don't they? About us, I mean." He looked at the tree and shook his head in wonder. How the hell had they managed to do that?
"I think they knew before we did, Marty."
"I've got couple of weeks of sick leave and you've got holidays due, right? So by the time we get back to work, this will be old news."
Kensi shook her head. "They won't let us get away so easily. But who cares?" Right now, she didn't care if the whole world knew.
Actually, it would be a relief not to have to pretend any longer, Deeks thought. But there was one thing that was still bothering him. "I haven't got you a present."
"You got me one last year. And anyway, you're just out of hospital, so I didn't expect one. But I've got an idea."
That sparkle in her eyes could only mean one thing. "Go on."
"How about I go back out, get that ribbon and then wrap it around you?"
"I love the way you think."
"I just love you. Period."
This was going to be the best Christmas ever.
All the plot bunnies have now been rounded up and are safely back in their burrows. Until the next time...
I tried to leave evil plot bunny up at Tahoe, but Hetty said that he'd just cause more chaos and hadn't I done enough maiming already? I explained that there is no such thing as 'enough' when it comes to maiming Deeks, because he maims so beautifully and she just gave me one of her looks. It was quite like old times, and I felt like I was back at school again.
thanks again for reading!