In honor of Valentines Day, and also one of my most favorite reader/reviewers ever - Celia Stanton's - birthday, I give you this. Just a bit of virtual cotton candy for your brain. Sweet and fluffy. Chapter 2 will post later today also. Enjoy! And Happy Birthday, E!


Marty Deeks has seen his partner dressed in all sorts of ways. He's seen her in her normal getup; tight little jeans and an equally tight tee. He's watched her laze around in sweats. He's also seen her dressed like an heiress and a stripper. And he's sure he'll never forget the bikinis. He's watched her stroll out of wardrobe looking like a vision, completely taking his breath away. And yet, when she walks out of the locker room and into the bullpen after work tonight, ready for a date, he nearly loses his pulse.

Kensi walks out like it's any other evening, like she isn't dressed like woman with somewhere incredibly important to go, with someone incredibly special waiting. The red dress she wears is clingy in all the right ways, accentuating her perfect body. It dips low in the back, showing off the curve of her spine, down to the swell of her hips, and it's just low cut enough in the front to make his eyes widen. But it isn't just sexy. It's more than that. The color of the dress is the perfect compliment to her dark hair and tan skin. Matching red stilettos and sparkly jewelry complete the ensemble.

He watches her walk into the bullpen to collect her bag and shut down her computer. She's fiddling with a diamond earring; possibly putting the back on it, lower lip caught between her teeth, totally unaware she's being watched. And in her unguarded state, she's like someone else. Someone soft and feminine. Someone he'd like to get to know better. He should stop staring. But he can't. He can't quite wrap his head around how she looks right now.

She finishes with the earring, and finds the handful of heart-shaped Dove dark chocolates he laid on her desk while she was getting dressed. She picks one up and smiles. "Thanks, Deeks. This is sweet."

He shrugs. "Happy Valentine's Day, partner." He keeps staring, because damn it, he just can't stop.

"To you, too." She drops the candy in her purse and turns to leave, then meets his gaze. "Hey. Got any plans tonight?"

"Um…no. Nope, just going home. Might catch a wave if there are any. You obviously have plans, though, yeah?"

"Uh-huh."

"Big date?"

"Um…maybe. I don't know. It's dinner and whatever."

He hates the sudden jealousy he feels. It isn't the first time, that's for sure. But tonight, for some reason he can't quite grasp, it's infinitely more acute. Almost painful. "Second date?"

She laughs. "Why would it be the second, Deeks?"

"I don't know. You look…" He can't find the words, and strangely, can't find a smart-ass comment, either.

She looks over at him, a smile tugging at her lips. Clearly, she's enjoying his discomfort. "I look what?"

He shrugs. He thinks of telling her she looks nice. Then he lets his eyes wander over her, and can't help but say what he's thinking. "Beautiful. You're beautiful, Kens."

She says nothing, clearly having no idea what to say. She obviously wasn't expecting that particular answer. She swallows and fidgets with her purse. Then, he sees something he's never seen before. A soft flush creeps up her neck, coloring her cheeks in a light blush. His heart nearly stops. Maybe it's the uncharacteristic nervousness, or the way she's slightly off balance, but that blush is the sexiest, most alluring thing he's ever seen. Still, he hates that he's made her uncomfortable.

"You look like it must be something special," he says, trying to ease her discomfort. "Like he's something special."

"Thanks," she says, softly. She grabs her purse and walks away. "See you tomorrow. Don't freeze to death surfing."

He starts to open his mouth, but shuts it. She didn't answer him. She didn't confirm or deny that it's a second date. She didn't confirm or deny that it's something special. That he's something special, whoever he is. The jealousy he felt seconds ago intensifies, and he feels a bit queasy. Could she really have someone special waiting for her? Could their thing really just be a joke between them? He thinks back over the past few months of their partnership. He thought they were growing close. He thought maybe – just maybe – it could end up being more.

He waits until he's sure she's gone, before leaving. He goes to the beach, but he doesn't surf. He sits on the cold sand, staring out over the steel gray February ocean, thinking of her. Of them. He's know for a while that his feelings aren't strictly platonic, that he'd be happy to explore their thing if she gave him any indication she was willing. She hasn't. Except for the day he announced he'd been fired from NCIS. That day, he couldn't possibly let her say whatever it was she wanted so badly to tell him. Not in the middle of a lie.

That day had been filled with trepidation and self-loathing. The very last thing on earth he ever wanted to do was to lie to her. He'd begged Hetty and Callen to include her in the op. He had worked too hard to gain her trust – no, to earn her trust – to throw it away with a lie. Even a lie that worked for the greater good. But he'd had no choice, and he'd followed through. Her anger he had fully expected. The anger was one thing. The look of hurt in her dark eyes, as she'd stared at him from the backseat was quite another. And it had nearly taken him down. Had they not been in the crucial stages of a mission, he's sure it would have.

When it was over, he'd been ready to hear whatever it was she'd wanted to say. When it was over, though, she'd said nothing.

He's wondered what it was ever since. What did she need to say? What could she not have left unsaid had they been forced to part ways? That she feels the same attraction to him that he feels for her? That she feels a connection with him? That she wants more than the odd, playful, platonic partnership that they have? He wonders if he'll ever know.

He hears voices, and looks over at the tide line. A couple walks hand in hand, laughing together. She's holding a single red rose, one the man at her side obviously gave to her. They look incredibly happy and in love. As they walk down the beach at sunset, the last golden rays backlighting them, they look like a greeting card commercial. It makes Deeks' heart hurt a little. He wants that. And he wants it with Kensi.

He thinks about settling down. About a wife and kids. He can't imagine Kensi slowing down long enough to be someone's mother. She's too badass, too kickass, and that's fine. He can't imagine her tied to the word wife, doing common, domestic things. The life they lead isn't exactly conducive to PTA meetings and carpools. No, he can't quite picture being married with kids. Not right now. A relationship with his beautiful, badass partner he can imagine, though, and it makes him ache inside.

This isn't doing him any good. He gets up and brushes off the sand and drives home. He could go sit in a bar somewhere and drown his sorrows, maybe bring home a girl whose just as lonely and lost as he is tonight. But he doesn't. He goes home and showers, then lies down on the couch and tortures himself. He doesn't even try to stop the visions of her in that dress, of the blush on her cheeks. He should, but he doesn't. He's falling for her, damn it. And he can't seem to stop.