The Thing

An NCIS: Los Angeles Fanfiction

By

Maxie Kay

A tag for the season 3 episode The Debt.

This wasn't the time or the place. Kensi had to walk away before she said something she would regret. Or, more to the point, before she did something Hetty would make her regret later on. Something like punching that smile right off Deeks' face. How could he sit there that smug smile on his face, chatting so casually with Sam and Callen and behaving as if nothing had happened? How could he? And how could he have done that to her? They were supposed to be partners, they were supposed to work together, to be closer than close and he had deliberately shut her out. It seemed as if everyone else had known about this operation, starting with Hetty and going right on down to Nell. Everyone had known. Everyone else, except her. And that wasn't right, Kensi thought. She should have been the first to know – shouldn't she? Didn't she have the right to know? Why hadn't he told her?

Kensi realised that she wasn't just angry – she was hurt. And there was only one way she could deal with those emotions, before they bubbled up and got totally out of control. More than anything, Kensi felt a deep resentment, and she needed to work on that, to get it out of her system anyway she could, to release the toxic feelings and then deal with them. As she stalked away, indignation seeping out of every pore, she was completely impervious to the fact that Deeks' eyes never left her for one second.

The gym seemed to contain the sensory memory of a thousand hours of pain. To be more precise, there was an ever present aroma of sweat about the place, one that seemed to be engrained into the wooden floor. It spoke of physical exertion, despair, agony and exhaustion distilled right down into a singular, distinctive smell. Kensi was so used to it now that it barely even registered, but during her first few months at the Mission she had actively dreaded coming here and had almost gagged with the doors opened. Now it was just one of these things that you had to deal with. Along with a partner who didn't trust you and who seemingly had problems working with women.

Could this day get any worse? Adjusting her stance, Kensi started to pummel the punching bag once again, trying to take out her anger in a series of tightly controlled blows. Already her arms were starting to ache, but she welcomed the distraction of the pain and started to block out everything else as she concentrated fiercely on one spot and then tried to aim her punches with pinpoint accuracy, focusing on where her gloves landed and impervious to the fact she was no longer alone.

"Let me guess. You're projecting my face onto the bag?"

Kensi whirled around and saw Deeks lounging back against the wall, wearing another of those plaid shirts he seemed to favour. She was beginning if his wardrobe consisted entirely of plaid shirts, striped shirts and navy t-shirts. Not that she noticed these things, of course.

"Not exactly." She was hot and sweaty now, her chest heaving rapidly with the exertion. Great timing Deeks,she thought and then shifted her weight onto one leg and pirouetted around, ending with a roundhouse kick to the bag that landed in a place that made Deeks wince.

"What just happened?" Well, that had been less than subtle. Kensi might just as well have kicked him in the junk.

Kensi resumed her boxing routine and tried to ignore him, pummelling the bag with renewed aggression.

"I thought we had a thing, Kensi."

"We. Do. Not. Have. A. Thing." She managed two blows to each syllable and by the end of that sentence Kensi was punching so hard she was surprised the bag was still in one piece.

"We do. You know that and so do I." And she'd nearly said something earlier on. Deeks couldn't foget that and he definitely did not want to forget it. Quite the contrary. "We definitely have something."

"That's not saying much." Kensi finally stopped her workout and glared at him. "It could be anything."

"So you're admitting we have a thing?"

And there it was: the little lift of the eyebrow. Sometimes Kensi wondered how many hours Deeks had spent in front of the mirror practising that little trick. And it got to her every single time. "Maybe it's nothing?" She let her hands drift down from their defensive position to lie limply by her sides.

"But it could be something." Deeks started to walk towards her. "It could even be the real thing."

"Enough with the thing, Deeks." Kensi tried very hard not to grit her teeth. Why waste years of expensive orthodontic work on Deeks?

"You're mad, aren't you?" She was refusing to meet his eyes or even look at him.

"Too right I'm mad. How about you try to guess why? No, don't bother, I'll save you the bother. I'm mad because you said nothing. Not one single word."

Actually, he could probably do without the Medusa glare. Kensi could be seriously scary when she put her mind to it. "Come on, I couldn't. You know that. And I thought Hetty spoke to you." And how lame did that sound, Deeks thought. Like some kid saying 'I have to do what I'm told by my mommy'. It wouldn't do any good to tell Kensi how hard he'd argued that she should know, that Kensi would be able to deal with it. IN the end, he'd been overruled and that was that.

It was like the floodgates had opened and all her bitterness came spilling out. "Oh yes, Hetty spoke to me, told me her reasons. But what about you?" Kensi jabbed him in the chest. "You've said nothing, Deeks. Nothing that matters anyway."

She couldn't stop thinking about that conversation in the bullpen, when he'd stood there, holding that box in front of him and deliberately keeping her at a distance. And she'd nearly told him… Well, at least she hadn't made a complete fool of herself. At least she still had some shreds of dignity left.

"I want to tell you something." If she didn't say it now, then maybe she never would.

"It's not the right time." It was hard enough keeping all this a secret from Kensi, without letting her say something under false pretences, even if it was something he needed to hear.

"It is what it is." I might never get another chance. I might never see you again.

"And we are what we are." I just wish I knew what that was. I wish there was an 'us'.

"Earlier on - it wasn't the time."

"And it is now?"

"It could be." Deeks took hold of her wrist and started to undo the binding of her glove. "We could go out, maybe get something to eat?"

"I told you: I'm busy. Every night for the rest of my life."

It sounded horribly familiar: it sounded like a rerun of his entire high school life. "You're not thinking straight right now." Deeks certainly wasn't. He was standing so close to Kensi that he could see the beads of sweat on her face and neck and running down onto her chest... It was only with a considerable effort that he managed to pull his eyes back up. God, she was sexy when she was mad. Scrub that. Kensi was sexy period.

"Oh yes I am." She stared at him defiantly.

"You're looking at my jugular vein again, aren't you?"

"Got it in one." Kensi pulled off her other glove and tossed it down onto the floor. She had been telling the truth about her plans. She had plans of exactly what she was doing to do to him, in minute detail, enough plans for every single night for the rest of their lives. Because, God help her, she had a thing for him. "I thought I could trust you, Deeks. I actually thought we had something. And today I found out I was wrong." The walls seemed to be closing in, trapping here and Kensi knew she needed to get out of here, right now, before she said something really stupid and ruined everything

"I didn't have a choice, Kensi." As she brushed past, Deeks reached out and grabbed her around the waist, and then wrapped his other arm around her, so that she was trapped and forced to look at him properly. "But if I had to do it all again, I'd make a different choice."

Kensi struggled briefly and then gave up when he held on tight. "Really?" There was something in his eyes that made her think she should maybe give him one more chance. Because there was just something about Deeks that she couldn't resist.

"Really. And this time I'd do the right thing." He looked directly at her, with no prevarication. "You can trust me on that."

There came a point when something had to give, after all. And it had been a long day and Kensi suddenly realised she was starving. "Alright. But don't do it again. Promise?"

"I won't. Promise." It would have been so easy to kiss her, but somehow Deeks managed not to. "About our thing?"

"What about it?"

Deeks grinned. She'd finally admitted they had a thing, and that made him insanely happy. "It's definitely something, isn't it?"

"You are definitely something, that's for sure." Kensi was prepared to concede that much.

Something was better than nothing. And maybe one day, something could turn out to be everything. Stranger things had happened after all.

THE END