A/N: I had debated whether to put this as a follow-up chapter for Put to Rights or as a stand alone one-shot. In the end I decided to add it just in case I wanted to add more after other episodes. So it's not so much an epilog, as a one-shot extension.
Deeks had initially thought that it would be the best assignment ever. After the chaos from Kensi's father's case, she had let him care for her wounds, albeit with carefully orchestrated deflections on both their parts, but progress was progress. She had stayed at his apartment for one night, sleeping in his bed while he spent most the night awake on the couch. Then he had been given orders to play house and sleep with Kensi for an undetermined amount of time. It had sounded like a win/win.
The reality was the stuff of torture.
He had found himself playing Justin, the perfect husband, but the real challenge had been playing an unaffected version of Marty Deeks behind closed doors. He was good at undercover, so much so that he nearly could convince himself of anything. He could even act the part of being attracted to a woman of questionable character for the greater good, as long as he had the advantage of being called by an alias. He had soon found himself in some sort of utopic prison where he had been destined to be always with Kensi and had to play as though he were a Marty Deeks who had only plutonic feelings for her.
It seemed that he couldn't portray Bizzaro-Deeks when emotions ran too high. When Kensi had sat with him on the couch, ice pack on her arm (a real one this time, not pizza rolls or tater tots) the real Marty had sat with her. He had listened, truly listened, to her pining for a normal life. He had joked (sort-of) about offering his services if she wanted mini assassins, but they had been interrupted by a brick through the window before he had been able to match her views on domestic bliss. He had nearly slipped, risked becoming too honest, because one of them showing a lapse in personal boundaries had been known to happen, but it was the job of the other to anchor him or her back to the reality of who they were, and who they could never be.
The second time had been when he followed a blood trail through the house expecting the worst. His muscles had responded tactically, but his heart had beat erratically and his mind had spun with the possibilities of her bleeding out. Looking back it wasn't much blood, the drips had not grown as they would have with a serious injury, but he had seen blood – her blood and that had him reeling, much more than Bizzaro-Deeks should have. When he had seen that she had been perfectly fine, relief washed over him with a force that had nearly brought tears to his eyes. He had been worried, but this time she had deflected, tethering him back to their dysfunctional brand of equilibrium.
In the end they both had worked at remaining professional, barring a few inhibited moments, that was until the kiss . . .
The assignment was over. Kensi was tired enough to let Deeks drive her home after their two week stint as Justin and Melissa. Truth be told she had gotten used to his company, his easy manners and, not that she would ever admit it to him, but he was easy on the eyes. She hadn't minded having the freedom to appreciate casually touching that well-muscled body. Despite the boundaries they had set, she hadn't minded waking up with a few limb infractions, on his part and hers. She had remedied them as soon as she thought he would be conscious enough to notice, but not a moment before.
He pulled up to her apartment, put the car in park and got out to help her with her luggage. He was thankful that she had too much for one trip, otherwise he would have come up with some thinly veiled excuse to walk her to her door.
He was going to regret this, but he had the unfortunate need to kick himself while he was down.
As his partner unlocked the door he casually asked, "So, Kens, what's the verdict? Socially stunted duck-footed fed or super stud cop?" He twitched an eyebrow as if that would sway her.
She hoisted her bag higher on her shoulder, "Deeks, I haven't been home in two weeks, and have been up all night. If you are trying to ply something from me you're going to have to spell it out." She rubbed her forehead in exhaustion. "On second thought, the answer is Callen – I don't really care right now what the question is." She turned on her heel. Her partner followed her in and put down the bag he was carrying.
It was all he had been able to think about since she had thrown him for a loop with the 'undercover' kiss. Which, of course, had came right after she had described in perfect detail what he had been wearing while undercover as Jason Wylie two years ago when they had met. He had wanted to play it off, as though the poignant moment hadn't been etched in his mind as well, but he just couldn't pass up a chance to confess. He had been thankful that he had been interrupted before he had to admit when he had fallen in love, because after all the honest answers they had supplied, he hadn't decided which way to play it. He hadn't felt like being the one to bring them back to center – they both had been crossing lines. He had been teetering between saying something completely random and admitting that she had gotten under his skin from their first meeting. The problem had been that he could not pinpoint the moment when her irritating idiosyncrasies became endearing, or when his infatuation turned into affection. This pause had resulted in a convenient out.
"I'll let your lapse in memory slide since you were injured and half asleep the first time we discussed this. In fact, that would make sense. There's no way that you would actually think that Callen would kiss better than Harrison Ford back in the day."
That got her attention.
"Is that what this is about? Seriously? You followed me in to see where you rank?" She laughed at him.
This wasn't going exactly as he had hoped, but honestly, he couldn't think how it would have gone differently. This is who they were, buddies, coworkers who bounce barbs off each other good-naturedly, flirting only with the understanding that it really couldn't mean anything – even when it sort of did.
"Oh, I know that G Callen is a lost cause now that you've kissed a master." He leaned in the doorway, trying to save face, fully expecting to be demolished by her next comment.
"Pah-lease! You were so shocked your lips didn't even twitch. I'm surprised they even bought it. So much for you being a master at undercover work."
And there it was. He was trying hard not to look like he was scraping his pride off the floor. The next step in their little dance was for him to deflect.
He puffed up his chest and declared. "Well, if you hadn't thrown yourself at me at the first flimsy excuse you could find, I might have been more prepared. Seriously, who would have seen that coming?"
"Callen, or Sam."
"Wait, you've kissed Sam?"
"No, I have not kissed Sam! I was simply making a point that they're professionals – ready for anything, and being the only woman on the team comes with certain . . . " she wrinkled her forehead, "sacrifices." At the split second flinch in his expression she regretted the word she settled on rather than 'responsibilities' or 'requirements.'
He recovered instantly then laughed slowly at her choice of words.
"So, tonight was 'taking one for the team'? I do hope you get some sort of reward, like a free coffee for every six agents you have to make out with. Well, seeing as though you have frequent flyer miles and I didn't pass muster on the first go around I want a do-over."
She shook her head, "What are you, eight?"
"No, that would be highly inappropriate if I were. I'm just saying that I deserve the chance to win your good opinion. As your partner I wouldn't want you to hesitate to kiss me again because you felt that the undercover experience was . . . lacking."
Her jaw dropped, but she was oddly reluctant to flat out refuse him. "A do-over for the sake of future missions? That is so lame, Deeks." To his surprise, her rant didn't end there. She crossed her arms but continued carefully as though it were a viable suggestion. "It wouldn't be the same. We're not needing to think tactically, there's no pressure of selling it as an act. It would just be kissing."
He surpressed a smile, "So, what you're saying is that the quantifying factors for a good undercover kiss have less to do with technique and more to do with pretense?"
Kensi suddenly felt unsettled. "I suppose."
"So, when you kissed Callen, you were both fully aware of the situation, despite tangling tongues? You never lost site of the mission and as soon as you broke apart there was no lingering pause, no rush of awe, just a perhaps a swipe to the lips and your head remained in the game for every split second?"
"As I said, we're professionals."
"No, you said he was a professional."
"And you think I'm not?"
Here he paused. Of course she was professional. She was acutely aware of setting boundaries and as responsible as he was about keeping their relationship appropriate despite the intimate situation. If one of them had cracked they both could have spun out of control. Hetty's admonitions had not been necessary. They had each grounded themselves emotionally and kept working at keeping their distance. But two weeks is a long time, and a kiss, even undercover, can't help but communicate what lies beneath the surface.
Deeks ran a hand through his hair, blew out a breath then answered, "Of course you're a professional, as am I, and under normal circumstances we don't break cover."
She leaned against the wall, "This wasn't exactly normal circumstances."
"That's my point. For that split second, I balked. I should have responded naturally, and I want to prove to you that I could do that."
"So, you want a do-over so you can prove that you can kiss me and I can kiss you and we can walk away unaffected?"
"That, and well, I really don't like ranking at the bottom of your NCIS top ten list."
Kensi walked closer to him, invaded his personal space and clarified, "Okay, so you want to knock my socks off with an epic kiss in order to prove that we could just walk away from it. All for the sake of future missions?"
"Do you see any flaws in that – "
Suddenly his partner gripped his shirt and kissed him with everything that had been pent up inside her over the past two weeks. Meanwhile a stunned Deeks, was deep in awe and completely unable to make any part of him, lips included, obey simple commands. When she pulled away, she flicked up an eyebrow, swiped a hand across her mouth and commented flatly. "Oh yeah, partner. That was epic." She sauntered out of the room before he got his bearings.
Epic was an understatement - every cell inside him seemed to tingle and swirl, until he realized that had frozen on her again. "Wait! Kens, I wasn't ready!"
She had her back to the wall in the next room nearly hyperventilating at the aftershocks that she's never let him see.
From the next room she heard him cry, "That was so not fair! I need another do-over!"