A/N: This chapter follows Descent.
A Silver Lining
He registered the sound of beeping but he lacked context.
The light stayed hidden behind guarded eyelids.
The foreign gutteral sound resonated through him.
He was flooded with warmth at the sound of his name and the feel of long fingers massaging his hand.
His eyes still refused to open.
"Rrrhhmmm." He couldn't will the sound into syllables or harness any one thought as the fragmented memories swirled through the darkness.
His whole body writhed from hurt, most of his body, anyway. His hand felt nice and he figured they must have him on the good drugs because his hair felt . . . . floaty.
"Hey, it's okay, Partner. You're okay now, but you gotta open those beautiful eyes for me, Deeks."
He tried to smile at the comfort inherent in her commanding voice but at the slightest movement of his mouth he simultaneously twitched, opened his eyes and whimpered like a little girl.
As soon as he locked eyes with his partner he tried to focus on her to ground himself. He mentally cursed the tears he couldn't restrain and tried to remember the last time he hurt so badly he cried. He thought he might have been seven.
His eyes followed the extension of her arm and he realized that the floatiness was from her elegant fingers combing through his hair. Kensi was smiling at him but her eyes were puffy and when she leaned down and kissed his forehead he saw tear tracks. He wanted to reach out, to wipe them away and wrap his arms around her, but his body wouldn't move and they didn't really do that sort of thing anyway, at least he didn't think they did.
He wanted to comfort her, to touch her. He always wanted to touch her, but they had a script and he played the part of detached grunge cop to her independent long-legged ninja.
They were definitely off script because his ninja had been crying – and she was touching him. He couldn't seem to do anything but writhe and whimper.
He was still reaching to knit together memories, if they were memories and not hallucinations. There were dental tools, and a swimming pool, Sam was staring, Kensi was . . . upset at him? Her expression was like the one she had now but not . . . not this exactly. He was still missing context and he hated being in a situation blind.
Kensi let go of his hand then sat on the bed by his hip. She went to touch his face then diverted to his shoulder.
His face. He couldn't talk, he could only move his lips with extreme pain and when he tested his jaw it was unresponsive.
He suddenly had context.
The beeping grew faster, his eyes honed on Kensi's with more urgency.
He had kissed Kensi.
He had kissed her. He remembered she had been frustrated with him and looking at him like he was breaking her heart six ways to Sunday. He had caressed her perfect skin and impulsively kissed her for all he was worth. He was feeling the aftershocks anew as her fingers brushed the bare skin of his shoulder.
The beeping sped even faster.
"Deeks. It's okay. You're safe."
He nodded slightly, thankful that for the moment he was prohibited from asking stupid questions or making unprofessional declarations in case Kensi wanted to go back to less unconventional ways of 'communicating' with him.
His thoughts were so jumbled. He didn't want to remember the rest. He didn't want to relive the torture. He didn't want to know if he'd been a weak link, if he was responsible for killing his friend, or his friend's wife. He had to know, but he couldn't stomach it, not yet.
He tried lifting his hand to cover his eyes and was alarmed to find his arm shaking from the effort.
Kensi smoothed a hand down his arm, gently gripped his hand in hers and adjusted their joined hands to settle on her thigh.
"You and Sam were unconscious when we found you. He was discharged yesterday. They had to do several surgeries to fix your teeth, wire your jaw shut and set a few toes. They kept you under at first so the swelling could go down and they could monitor your heart to make sure there won't be any lasting damage from electrical currents. Don't worry, though. You're heart is fine." She gave him a forced smile. "They weaned you off the anesthesia three days ago and you've been asleep for nearly a week. 'Bout time you woke up from your beauty sleep, Shaggy."
She looked so exhausted that he had no doubt she had been by his side the past three days waiting for him.
He looked down at his hand then back up at her.
"Don't worry about the shaking. Your muscles will be sore until you get your strength back, but you'll be back to mixed martial arts before you know it, Partner."
He squeezed her fingers and brushed his thumb along the back of her hand.
She cleared her throat and giggled self-consciously. "It's just so ironic, you know? Normally we can't get you to shut up, and now all I want to do is hear a snappy comeback or some inappropriate double entendre." She continued more soberly. "I thought I'd lost you, Deeks. After everything . . . I thought that was it."
He closed his eyes for a few beats but wriggled his fingers loose and glided his hand so it was flush on her lower thigh and squeezed.
"I don't know what you remember. Once your arms are stronger Hetty will need you to write or type a statement. For now you need to get some rest, but first I want you to know that if you hadn't have made it . . . our last conversation . . . after everything, I just didn't want that to be our end." She stammered through the confession, not meeting his eyes.
He closed his eyes and breathed heavily but he pressed his hand on her leg so she knew he wasn't trying to sleep. He chastised himself for brazenly kissing her, for drawing emotions to the surface which they both knew they had to keep under wraps. He could live with his own private torture of having her in his life, but never in all the ways he longed for. But it pained him to know that in satisfying his own need to touch her, to have that physical affection, he hurt her more deeply than all the times he shunned her. He had crossed a line that had been there to protect her and had he died she would have resented him for it for all eternity. At least he had the chance to apologize and try to regain some kind of (albeit tension-laced) friendship.
He didn't want to wait to say the word. She deserved to hear it as soon as possible so he gripped her knee,, screwed his face in pain as he slightly parted his lips and through clenched teeth hissed his best attempt at "sorry."
Kensi swallowed thickly and wiped at the corner of her eye. "No, Deeks, there's a lot of things you've done that deserve an apology, but that kiss? I'll never regret that."
He knit his eyebrows together in confusion. She rubbed his hand with both of hers. "I'm only saying this once in the hopes that you'll remember it only as a morphine-induced hallucination. What I meant before was that it would not have been fair for you to give me the single most epically romantic moment of my life then leave me to live the rest of my days knowing that no other moment would ever compare."
He crinkled his eyes at her and she was relieved to see a mischievous glint return.
"We'll have to figure this out once you're better, but until then, I think some payback is in order. When you get discharged, if you need someone to keep you supplied with frozen corn and tater tots for your jaw or to tuck you in at night. I'd be happy to help. I'll even get the whole series of Indiana Jones movies and bring them over with pizza and beer."
He scowled at her. "Don't worry, I'll put your pizza in the blender and give you a straw for your beer." He huffed.
"For now, get some sleep."
He closed his eyes and felt her fingers card through his hair and her soft lips kiss between his eyebrows.
"Visiting hours are over, so I have to go."
She stood and gathered her things and went to leave. She paused at the door, twitched up an eyebrow and said. "By the way, Deeks? Much better than Callen."
She heard a faint whimper as he couldn't keep from smiling.
"Sweet dreams, Partner."