The time has come, as the walrus once said… and in this case, the time has come to bring this story to a conclusion I hope you'll find satisfying after all the alarms and excurstions of the preceding forty-seven chapters. And yes, it's a little bit sentimental...
Grateful thanks to BDF for all his help with the technical details and for providing the inspiration in the first place. And for transforming me into a new woman with a cool, funky hairdo!
"So why don't you show me just how much you love me, Deeks?" Kensi invited.
He looked up and their gazes met in the mirror: blue eyes met brown and the same intent was clearly signalled in each. "Why don't I just do that?"
Deeks bent forward and started to kiss along her collarbone, kisses that grew in intensity as Kensi leant her head back against his shoulder and wriggled her hips against him. He was kissing her neck now and she turned first her head and then her whole body, desperate to feel his lips against hers, to feel the burning fire inside her blaze just a little more intensely. She let her hand slip underneath Deeks' shirt to rest in the small of his back and at her touch he deepened the kiss still further. Suddenly clothes were just an impediment, something to be discarded as quickly as possible, totally extraneous and completely undesired. They needed to feel the warmth of skin against skin, the solace of being as close as possible to the other person and to feel the heat build up between them.
"I love how you love me too." Deeks loved the way he could feel her heart beating against his own as they sank down onto the floor. They knew each other now, knew the secrets of each other's bodies, know exactly what would bring the most pleasure, what would delay the climax and what would cause that sharp intake of breath, or that low moan, or even that writhing in sheer sensuous delight.
Kensi abandoned herself to the moment, to all the sensations and desires that were flooding her body, craving his touch, and reaching out to touch him in turn.
"I just love you, Kensi." Deeks was above her now, hair flopping forward and eyes hugely dilated. "I just love you so much." He punctuated each word with a kiss.
"I love you too." Kensi reached up to him and pulled him in. "I totally love you." She held him as if she would never let him go.
Twelve Months Later…
Maybe this Christmas will mean something more
Maybe this year love will appear
Deeper than ever before;
"Are you sure we can manage that?" Doubt and reluctance informed every syllable.
"We can manage." Joanna looked at her husband and smiled. "Come on Sam – it's no big deal. And it'll be fun. We spent Thanksgiving with Callen and Louise, so it's our turn now."
"Still – having the whole team over for Christmas dinner – I mean… it's a lot of work."
"I've already asked them."
"Everyone?" Sam asked weakly, knowing when he was beaten.
"Everyone. And that includes Nell and Eric."
"Supposing they've had another argument?" Their relationship was volatile, to say the least. Nell didn't have red hair for nothing.
"Then that's their problem, not ours."
Sam wasn't quite so sanguine, as they had a nasty habit of both arguing and then making up in public. However, he judged it safest to bring up another line of attack – or informed reasoning, as he liked to think of it. "But what about the puppies?" Macy had given birth to a litter four weeks ago – four girls and one boy. From the looks of things, the father had been a black Labrador, although it was hard to be sure.
"They won't mind," Joanna assured him blithely, rather missing the point, Sam felt. "Anyway, what could possibly be cuter that a puppy? People love puppies. People see little, wriggly puppies and fall in love. And they'll be just ready to go away from Macy by then."
There was method in her madness after all. "So that's our Christmas presents to the team sorted then? Woman, I love the way you think."
So it looked like this Christmas was going to be completely different. This Christmas he wasn't going to go mad trying to find the latest 'must-have' piece of plastic tat for Carina, only to have Eric come up trumps at the very last minute. This Christmas he would not have the spectre of Jada hanging over his head like some modern day equivalent of the sword of Damocles. Now he had a new life, and it turned out that this new life was pretty much what Sam had always wanted. He could share things with his wife - really share them - and they spent a lot more time together as a family. Macy had helped immensely- they had all united to look after her and to love her. In return, she gave them endless devotion. So what if the puppies hadn't been planned? Like Joanne said, they were cute – and Sam suspected that at least two of them would be going home with one or other of his team members.
"There's just one thing. When you said 'the whole team' – exactly what did you mean?"
Joanne looked at him and smiled. "I didn't invite Granger. Or Hunter. Or even Vance. But maybe next Christmas… Never say never, Sam."
And maybe forgiveness will ask us to call
Someone we love
Someone we've lost
For reasons we can't quite recall
"You're sure you're okay with this?" It was their first Christmas together, after all. They could have spent the day in bed together, doing nothing in particular, although Callen was pretty sure he could have come up with something.
"I'm sure." Louise picked up a her sweater and thought once more that moving to California had been the best move of her life – and not only because of the weather. Who wanted to be in freezing cold New York when they could have temperate California, all blue skies and warm weather – and Callen. She had it all. She even had a house with furniture in it.
"We don't have to do this, you know. We could just go straight on over to Sam's." Although he had suggested this in the first place, Callen wasn't quite so sure about it now. It had seemed like a good idea at the time, but now it was actually Christmas day, he was having second thoughts. Finally he had the life he had always dreamed off, so why was he even thinking about doing something that could put all of this in jeopardy?
"Callen – you need to do this. And I need to go with you. Okay?"
"Were you born this bossy – or did you have to work at it?"
Louise just gave him an old-fashioned look and then tossed him the car keys, which Callen caught one-handed. "You think I don't know about that secret Christmas present you've got me, don't you, Callen? The one in the box from Agent Provocateur? Well, if you want me to model it for you tonight…"
"I'll drive. And we'll make that detour before we go to Sam's."
"Good boy. Another couple of years and we'll have you fully house-trained."
"You want me to sit up and beg?" he asked, trying to sound sarcastic, but failing to keep the laughter out of his voice. Louise had him exactly where she wanted him – which co-incidentally enough was exactly where Callen wanted to be.
A knowing smile crept across her face. "Not right now. But later on – let's just say that'll do nicely. Very nicely indeed."
So they drove along strangely silent streets, LA being almost deserted as its inhabitants celebrated the festive season and eventually came of the Hollywood freeway in the heart of downtown, pulling in beside the cathedral.
"Our Lady of The Angels," Callen said quietly. "This seemed the right place."
Louise linked her arm through his and they entered together, walking towards a side altar. Callen reached out and took a votive candle, lit it and watched as Louise did the same. Then he bowed his head briefly. He did not pray – not exactly. It had been a long time since he had prayed, but he thought of Macy and all that she had meant, and he wished her God speed. Above all, Callen hoped that she was at peace and that she knew how much he had loved her. A part of him would always love her – that would never change. When he finally looked up and his eyes cleared enough to be able to focus properly, it was to find that Louise was kneeling before the altar, back straight, hands clasped reverently and gazing straight ahead with great intent. He hadn't expected that, having thought that she would stand to one side and merely observe.
After a few minutes, Louise stood up, whispered something and then came to stand by his side.
"What was that you said?"
"Lux aeterna. You know how we lawyers love Latin. It means 'eternal light'. I was just wishing her well." She wasn't jealous of Macy, not in the slightest. Macy had been an important part of Callen's life, and for that Louise would always be grateful. His love for Macy did not impinge on his love for her. And besides, she had offered up her own prayers, as well as those for Macy.
Callen closed his eyes briefly, and offered up a simple prayer of gratitude that consisted of one word, and one word only. It was no less heartfelt or sincere for its brevity. He had been lost, but now he was found. And he was getting to spend this Christmas with the woman he loved. Maybe this Christmas was going to be the best one ever? They walked out together, leaving the two candles burning brightly and bravely, twin beacons of hope for the future and Louise knew for certain that this Christmas was only the begining.
Maybe there'll be an open door
Maybe the star that shined before
Will shine once more.
"David – oh my."
It had to happen at some point – although it was a considerable shock to actually find that she was literally speechless. But for possibly the first time in her life Henrietta Lang found that she was at a complete loss for words as she opened her door on Christmas morning to find her son standing there. All she could do after her initial exclamation of joy was to open her arms wide.
"Merry Christmas, Hetty." David enveloped her in an embrace, almost lifting her off her feet in her enthusiasm.
"Merry Christmas," Hetty managed to say. Her heart was too full to say anymore, because this was the best present she could ever have imagined. Suddenly remembering her manners, she opened the door wide and beckoned him forward. "Won't you come in?"
David looked slightly abashed, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. "I hope you don't mind – but I brought a friend with me. Is it alright?"
"Alright? Of course it's alright. Come in, both of you." Hetty would not have minded if her son had brought his entire platoon with him, such was her joy. All these years, she had thought of him on every birthday and every Christmas, never quite daring to dream that she would ever be able to spend even a minute of these special days with him. But he was here now, and that was the best present she had ever received and quite possibly the greatest gift of all.
Right up until the moment she said that, David was still full of doubts. He'd nearly ducked out of coming at the last moment, but the card with Deeks' cell-phone number on it was still in his wallet, nearly a year after they had last met. Gathering all his courage together, David had called him that morning to find out where Hetty was currently staying. Now, seeing the look on her face, he knew he had made the right decision and felt that he had finally come home.
Turning around, David held out his hand and a young woman walked forward. "Hetty – I'd like you to meet my fiancée, Charlotte Peters. And Charlotte – this is Hetty Lang. My mother."
Maybe this Christmas, they would learn to make a new sort of family.
And maybe this Christmas will find us at last
In heaven, at peace
Prayed for at least
For the love we've been shown in the past
"They're late." Eric had to push up his sweater sleeve in order to be able to look at his watch. This year, the Jones family sweaters were a dark crimson, with a repeating reindeer motif on them, and Mrs Jones appeared to think he had arms that would do justice to a young orang utan.
"Deeks is always late," Sam informed him. He too was wearing his Christmas sweater, as was every other person filling the Hanna's living room, and overflowing into the kitchen. Everyone except David and Charlotte. Luckily for them, Mrs Jones did not have the gift of prophecy.
"I thought Kensi might be a good influence – reform him, even. Clearly I was wrong." Callen sighed in a melodramatic fashion.
"Kensi's good – but she's not that good. There's a limit to what even she can achieve with my little brother."
Louise already had a female puppy firmly ensconced on her lap and Sam could hear his daughter trying to convince her to take the boy too, so that they wouldn't be lonely. He had a strong suspicion that Louise and Callen would be going home with two puppies that evening. And judging by the way Nell was eyeing up the remaining two, Eric was going to be getting an unexpected present too. Excellent. He rather thought they would keep the remaining girl – just so that her mother would not lose all her babies at once. Not that he was sentimental in the slightest, because that was clearly ridiculous. He just had a big heart, that was all.
"Did I hear my name?" Kensi breezed in, her arms full of presents. "Oh – just look at the puppies! Aren't they just adorable?"
"You are not getting a puppy, my dear. You've already got more than enough on your plate." After two glasses of egg nog, Hetty was smiling beatifically upon everyone.
"But they're so sweet. Just look at their little faces."
"And just think of Deeks' little face if he finds out what you're thinking." Callen kissed her on both cheeks. "We almost thought you weren't going to make it. And haven't you forgotten something? Or someone?"
"He's still outside, getting everything out of the car. And we're not that late, are we?"
"Only half an hour."
"Half an hour. Wow." Kensi knew exactly what could happen in half an hour – the whole world could change. "That's nothing. In fact, that's almost a record for us. You have no idea – no idea at all."
Joanne put her arm around her waist and hugged her. "I do. I remember it only too well." She heard the sound of footsteps and went to greet the last guest. "Marty – merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas." Deeks looked slightly flustered as he kissed her. "Sorry we're late."
"Are you late? I hardly noticed," Sam said, walking towards him.
"He threw up - just when we'd got him into the car." Deeks looked down at the baby in his arms, who was looked gravely back up at him. "We can't take you anywhere, can we?" There was no disguising the love and pride in his voice.
"Give him to me." Sam reached out and took the baby with practised ease. "And go sit down with your wife while I put this Christmas sweater on him." The hand-knitted garment looked ridiculously tiny in his large hands and Kensi thought that she would definitely save that as a remembrance of their first Christmas as a family.
Before Deeks could do that, a small hand tugged at his sleeve. "Auntie Kensi want a puppy."
"Auntie Kensi's going to have to want, Carina. Because she's got a baby instead."
"Puppies are cuter than babies, Uncle Marty. And you don't have to change their diapers either."
"She's got a point, Deeks. Do you want to swap?" Sam nodded at the two puppies sleeping in a contented heap on Louise's lap.
Deeks finished pulling his reindeer sweater on and shook his head. "He's small, he's incredibly loud and we don't get any sleep. But still –he's ours, so I reckon we'll keep him. What do you say, Kensi?"
"I guess I'm stuck in a house with three males – you, him and Monty. So I'm out-numbered - what can I do?" Kensi sounded highly delighted with her life and even the sweater Nell had just handed her could not dim her pleasure. She was perched on Deeks' knee, watching Sam holding her baby and thinking this was the best Christmas ever.
"You could always get a girl puppy," Carina said and then wondered why everyone burst out laughing.
"Or maybe you could just settle for having a baby niece?" Louise suggested, and then watched as a look of dazed incomprehension crept across Callen's face. She nodded. "It's true – I'm pregnant," and watched as he just gazed at her, for all the world as if she had given him the greatest gift on earth.
Maybe this Christmas they had just started a new tradition? One that would grow, just as their families did.
Maybe This Christmas lyrics are by Ron Sexsmith.
And if you have made it this far – thank you for sticking with this story to the end – all 300 pages, and over 150,000 words. Thank you also to everybody who has been reviewing – because each review has truly gladdened my heart.
Until the next story – best wishes to you all.