A GIVE AND TAKE SITUATION
At the end of every CPR certification class, the instructors have always distributed a small, laminated card illustrating the proper technique for administering CPR, along with the instructions to 'always have this on your person' printed in small, block letters along the edge of the card. Kensi has always found it to be a somewhat pointless, if not stupid act.
She had never seen the point. The card was given to people who had already been certified to perform CPR, to people who already know what to do without reading the card. No one is going to think, nor have time to pull out his or her wallet and examine the brightly colored illustrations when CPR is actually needed. When she had first pointed this out after her first certification, and subsequently receiving her first laminated card, Hetty had been quick to point out that any extra help, even in the form of laminated assurance or wallet sized confidence would always be appreciated.
Hetty's words are the only reason Kensi didn't throw the card away. Instead, she set it in the top drawer of her desk, adding a new one to it each time she recertifies. Now, as she leans back on her heels, letting her arms rest as the pain in her shoulders screams for attention, she thinks about the dozen or more cards lying haphazardly amongst candy wrappers.
She inhales deeply, fighting back emotion as she allows herself to look down at the all-too still form of the teenaged boy lying in front of her. His eyes are slightly open, almost as though he's caught in the middle of a blink.
She listens as Eric's voice tells her that help is on the way, that Callen and Sam have already cleared the rest of the building. Once Eric stops talking, all of her attention focuses on the sound of her partner counting, each count accented by a heavy breath.
She looks up, and for a brief moment, she actually thinks that she might cry. His head is angled down, the blonde curls falling forward, effectively hiding his face. He steadily presses down on the center of the chest of the boy in front of him, not much older than the one currently lying in front of her.
His forearms are smeared with blood, his hands soaked in it. She's not sure if he even recognizes it, all his attention being focused on his attempts to keep an already-stilled heart beating.
She regrets the moment she looks at the boy's face. His eyes are closed, mouth relaxed, and slightly opened. Each time Deeks pushes down on his chest, the boy's head slightly bobs, keeping tempo with the steady compressions.
She knows the boy is dead. She had known it the moment Deeks had screamed for him to stay awake. She had already begun performing CPR on the second boy when she looked up to see Deeks laying the boy on the ground and following her example.
Watching as her partner desperately refuses to stop, some small, morbid, and pissed off part of her wonders if one of the small laminated cards lying in her desk would have made a difference.
"Deeks." She doesn't remember thinking about what to say, or remember deciding that she would. Either way, she says his name again, each time it's a little louder than before. Each time, he shakes his head, blocking out her voice as he continues to count.
It isn't until Sam and Callen arrive that he finally stops. As soon as they had walked into the room, she had given them a pleading glance, silently begging them to make this stop. A strong hand on his shoulder had been enough to pull Deeks out of his determined trance.
He still has his hands on the boy's chest even though he's no longer pressing down. He looks up and meets Kensi's eyes. Deeks finally moves his hands, causing a wet, suction sound to echo through the silence. He feels as though he's about to be sick. An overwhelming amount of sadness, confusion, and anger pulsing through him all at once.
As Callen looks back and forth between Kensi and Deeks, he quietly tells Eric to cancel the ambulances. After that, no one says anything. No one really knows what to say. Several minutes pass in a heavy silence, Kensi and Deeks each on their knees in front of two dead boys, while Sam and Callen stand beside them.
Eventually, LAPD arrives. Statements are given, and bodies are collected. As the bodies of the two boys are loaded into the back of the coroner's van, Kensi looks to her partner. She sees him watching as one of the police officers gently pushes the van door shut, closing the two boys in with the bodies of their killers. She knows that he shares the same feelings of disgust that's currently dancing in her stomach.
He's leaning against a railing, the yellow paint long ago having begun to rust and peel. His eyes are different than she's used to. She can count the number of times she's seen that look in his eyes. His eyes are full of anger, the silent rage barely contained beneath normally entrancing blue.
She'll never admit it to him, or to anyone else either, but when he looks like this, she feels a bit of fear. She's afraid of what he's thinking, of what he may do. She's afraid of the dark thoughts she knows are swimming through his mind. She's afraid for him, and in a small way, one in which she's ashamed to admit for more reasons than she can count, she's afraid of him.
Never the less, she slowly walks towards him and leans against the rusted, yellow railing. He doesn't say anything, and she doesn't expect him to, although she wishes he would. She knows that the witty, carefree, and annoyingly fun Marty Deeks will eventually come around, smile, and offer her a teasing joke.
But right now, in the parking lot of an abandoned bottling company, he just leans against a railing, a blood soaked towel loosely held between his fingers. She sees where he had tried to wipe away the blood, but his arms are still stained. His fingernails are outlined in an overly bright shade of red, a subtle contrast to the dark stains covering most of his clothing.
She watches as his shoulders slump, as the adrenaline leaves his body. Kensi knows that adrenaline can be a lifesaver. It can keep you going, forcing you to pay attention, and guiding you through an obscenely chaotic situation. It gives you strength even after you know you've lost.
As she watches her silent partner climb into the passenger seat, she realizes that they had already lost the moment they had walked into the room, guns out, eyes focused.
During training, agents are always reminded that safety procedures should be so well-practiced, that they should come as second nature during any op. Always pay attention, always be focused, make it a habit. Next, they are taught to follow their instincts. If something feels wrong, assume it is. If you think it might be dangerous, then treat it like it is. Habit and instinct. Two irreplaceable weapons in any operative's arsenal.
But Kensi knows that sometimes that's not enough. Sometimes you get surprised, and no amount of second nature training or instinct is going to make everything okay. That's when you rely on adrenaline—and even then, it may not be enough.
They knew they had lost. They had known it the moment they turned the corner and saw the two boys. Two boys who previously, the agents had not known existed. They were only supposed to find a handful of low-level arms dealers. Lowlifes trying to play with the big boys. What they were not supposed to find were two teenaged boys, each of their faces covered in tears shed out of fear and shame.
They had done their research. Eric and Nell had learned the names and faces of each of the men responsible for smuggling stolen military grade missiles through southern California. They had been able to learn which ones had a nasty drug habit, which ones had dropped out of high school, and which one had faked his own death in order to get out of the Marines early.
What they hadn't learned was that one had an unhealthy attraction to post-pubescent boys.
Kensi had taken point, quickly entering the room, trusting Deeks to have her back. She had yelled for them to freeze, informing them that she was NCIS. For a brief moment, everyone in the room, agents included, stared in frozen disbelief.
The lowlife arms dealers were shocked that they had been caught. Kensi and Deeks were shocked to see two boys struggling in the arms of a half-dressed, stoned out of his mind, former linebacker. Even more surprised to see an ex-marine standing guard nearby.
Two seconds later, everyone had reacted at once. The younger boy had moved to hide beneath the table he was pinned against, while the second boy continued to fight the man holding them there, who suddenly had a gun pointed at the younger boy's chest. At the same time, the ex-marine began to fire his weapon, not bothering to aim in any specific direction.
Adrenaline can be a lifesaver.
Deeks quickly fired his gun, dropping the disoriented marine before he could get his aim under control. The detective heard three more shots, and quickly turned only to see a mass of bodies entangled around one another.
Kensi was already running towards the fallen boys, shoving the body of their attacker as far away as her strength would allow. She had screamed for Eric to get help, trying her best to roll the boy onto his back without hurting his head.
Her heart nearly broke when she heard the other boy gasping for air, pleading with Deeks to help him. "I don't want to die. Please, I don't want to die." Deeks had pulled the boy into his arms, applying pressure to the steadily bleeding hole in the boy's abdomen.
As she began CPR, she listened to Deeks try and calm the boy. He had told him to hang on, that help was on the way. He had tried asking the boy his name, tried to distract him from the fear and the pain. It hadn't worked. The boy continued to cry, continued to beg not to die.
She felt lost when the boy started to cry out for his mother, completely unaware of where he was. She doesn't know how much time had passed, but she knows it hadn't been long before Deeks was screaming for the boy to stay awake.
Adrenaline can be a lifesaver, but sometimes even that isn't enough.
The drive to the office is almost quiet. She follows the speed limit, concentrating on the traffic, trying to distract her mind from where she knows it will eventually have to go. They had lost. The missiles had been recovered, all the bad guys are dead, but they still had lost.
She slowly brings the car to a stop at a traffic light. She looks into the car waiting next to her. A middle-aged man with dark-rimmed glasses quickly stuffs several fries into his mouth before wiping his greased fingers on the leg of his trousers. He has no idea what's just happened less than an hour before.
Kensi turns her attention back towards her partner. She sees the muscle in his jaw tense, his eyes still full of anger. She sees his body tense, so she's almost able to prepare herself for it. He suddenly slams a fist against the door of the car, an angry and frustrated cry escaping him as his knuckles come in contact with the door.
He does it two more times before he lets his head fall back against the headrest. He doesn't apologize, nor does he try to explain. He simply stares at the ceiling, completely aware that his partner is watching him closely. He's grateful when she slowly releases the brake and continues to drive towards the office.
He doesn't want her to ask if he's alright. He doesn't want her to tell him it's not his fault. He wants her to let him think in silence, to grieve for the loss of two boys he didn't know existed. Two boys whose names he still doesn't know. He wants her to do exactly what she's doing, and he's grateful that she does.
She considers taking him straight home, skipping the office and letting him vent in the comfort of his own home. But she doesn't. She doesn't want him to be alone. She'll give him his space, but until the anger leaves his eyes, she isn't letting him be by himself.
She parks in her usual parking space, and waits. She waits to see if he's going to finally say something, if he's going to get mad and hit something again, if he's at least going to get out of the car. She watches as the clock on her dashboard changes twice. She knows he doesn't want to move, so she silently pushes him to.
She opens her door, and climbs out of the car, shutting the door with enough force to earn his attention. She watches through the window as he turns his head and looks at her, his eyes still angry, but a mixture of sadness can now be seen.
She offers a short smile, and although he doesn't return it, he does get out of the car, shutting the door with as much force as she had.
When they walk into the office, most people try to pretend that they aren't staring. She sees Nell's slightly alarmed face at the state of Deeks' clothes, and for the first time she looks down at herself.
Her knees are covered in blood, several lines trailing down towards her feet from where the blood had soaked through. She has two handprints on her thighs. She knows that the prints are hers; they had appeared after she braced her hands on her legs to stand up after their backup had finally arrived. There are small smears of browning blood on her light blue shirt. It's still nothing compared to the amount of blood currently soaked into all of Deeks' clothes.
She hadn't held the boy in her arms. He had.
Deeks continues to walk past the desks, heading towards the gym, and she knows, the showers. She catches Sam's eyes, and he offers her a short nod, trying to give her strength to help her partner. Or at least that's how she interprets it. Callen just watches Deeks walk by, gives a quick look towards Kensi, and then sits at his desk. He knows there's nothing he can do, nothing he can say to make either of them feel better—so he doesn't.
She returns Eric's shy smile before she follows her partner into the gym. She sees two people holding a basketball, both completely having forgotten about their game. She knows it's because they had just seen Deeks, seen the anger and the blood.
She ignores them as they turn their attention to her. She keeps her pace, quietly walking in the direction of the showers. She feels relief when she sees him walking towards one of the shower stalls. She ignores the fact that she had been worried.
Kensi expects him to turn and acknowledge that she's there, to realize that he doesn't have any clothes to change into, doesn't have a towel. She expects him to get angry again, to start crying, to show some kind of emotion.
But he's Deeks, so he doesn't do what she expects. She watches in silence as he takes his shirt off, pulling it over his head and letting it fall to the floor. She doesn't focus on the sun-kissed tone of his skin, on the well-defined muscles shaping his back, or on the smooth definition of his abs, tapering off beneath his belt. Instead, she focuses on the sticky red that soaked through his shirt, smearing on his skin.
He walks into one of the stalls and turns on the hot water. She sees him shudder as the freezing water covers his body before it begins to warm. He's still wearing his shoes, his pants. She notices that his gun is missing, and she turns to look around. When she spots it, his wallet, and his phone lying on a bench, she realizes that he must have removed them before she made it into the room.
When she turns back to face him, she sees the steam from the heated water begin to flow out of the small stall. He has one arm propped against the shower wall, his head resting on his forearm. She sees the water around his feet dyed a bright pink as the blood is washed away.
When she notices his skin begin to take on a painful red color, she steps into the shower with him, immediately turning on the cold water. She flinches when some of the scalding water splashes onto her. She feels the heat slowly become tolerable, and she lets her hand fall to his arm.
He tilts his head, keeping his forehead firmly pressed against his arm on the wall. To some degree, she's relieved to see that there is no longer anger in his eyes. However, the fact that it's been completely consumed by sadness causes a sharp pain to shoot though her chest. She raises a brow, and asks in a soft, yet serious voice, "Are you planning on streaking through the gym?"
She wishes he would respond in kind, make some sly comment about her being in the shower with him, or tease her by saying, "I will if you will." Instead, he gives her a tired smile, and she takes it. She squeezes his arm once before stepping out of the shower, her entire right side now soaked. "I'll be right back," she promises as she leaves to find their lockers.
As soon as she walks out of the showers, she finds Hetty waiting patiently against the far wall. Her hands are behind her back, and her head held high.
"Hetty," is all Kensi can think to say. She's grateful that the smaller woman doesn't require more. Instead, Hetty replies in a way that lets the agent know that she understands.
"Ms. Blye," Hetty nods her head once before pointing a finger towards the showers, "Is he okay?"
Kensi closes her eyes, fighting back the desire to say 'he's fine'. She inhales deeply through her nose as she decides to tell the truth. "No, but he will be." She has no doubt.
Hetty folds her hands in front of her. She doesn't tell Kensi to take care of him. She doesn't have to. Both women know that Kensi will do it, whether or not she's told. He's her partner. Part of being partners is to give and take. It's her turn to give.
Hetty nods once more before gesturing to two small, black, gym bags resting against the wall, with several large, white towels lying on top. Kensi just smiles, offering a quick 'thanks', before bending and grabbing the bags and towels.
When Kensi walks back into the showers, she notices that Deeks had pulled the curtain closed, the remainder of his clothes resting in a saturated pile just outside the stall.
She sets his bag down beside the pile, making sure to not get his towels wet before climbing into a separate stall. She lets the water run over her as she focuses on her breathing, consciously trying to keep the rhythm steady and calm.
She hurries to get out of the shower first, knowing he'll stay in until the timer goes off, if not longer. After she pulls a clean t-shirt on, she grabs her towel and begins running it through her hair. She steps out of the shower and starts to gather her ruined clothes, emptying her pockets before tossing the beloved jeans into the garbage.
She's still drying her hair when she hears him push the shower curtain open. She doesn't turn around, giving him time to cover up in case he hadn't expected, or cared that she was still there.
She jumps slightly when he drops his gym bag on the bench beside her. She looks up to see him standing in just a towel, all traces of blood gone. His hair is heavy from the water, the curls hanging low over his eyes with the extra weight. It's also darker than usual, making his eyes appear even bluer than she's used to.
She smiles internally when she sees that his eyes almost look familiar, almost look like they belong to him again.
She stands and tosses her towel into the hamper before gesturing to his clothes. He just shakes his head, letting her know that it's okay for her to throw them away. Before she walks out, she sets his wet shoes on the bench near him, earning a small smile in thanks.
She's sitting at her desk, wet hair pulled to one side as she stares at the blank computer screen in front of her. She knows she should type up the report now, while it's still fresh in her mind, but all she can focus on is the doorway leading to the gym. She keeps waiting for him to walk out.
This time he doesn't disappoint. He exits the gym, walks straight past their desks, and heads for the parking lot. Just before he walks out of sight, he turns and smiles, quickly saying, "See ya, Kensi," before walking away.
Any other day that would have been okay. She would have smiled back, shouted a quick "Later, Deeks," and then gone back to her report. Only this time she doesn't. He had smiled, but the smile didn't reach his eyes. His smiles always reach his eyes. He's one of those people who smiles with his whole face, and she wants it to stay that way.
Staring at the blank report in front of her, she feels a strong feeling of frustration building inside her chest. Every muscle twitching with the need to fix whatever's wrong. Only she knows that she can't. This is one of those things where you just have to sit and wait it out. Wait for time to pass. Wait, because they had lost.
She slams the computer shut, quickly grabs her keys and all but runs to her car. She's surprised when she steps outside. The sun is still up, sunset only about an hour or so away. She had expected it to be later. So much had happened since they had walked into the room with the boys that it seems impossible that it's still the same day.
As she climbs in her car, she realizes that in reality, not much has happened. They wrapped up the scene and immediately came back to the office. Nothing else. When she turns in her seat to check her blind spots as she backs out of her parking spot, she catches a glimpse of Deeks' jacket. He had tossed it there before they had gone into the building.
Not a lot has happened physically, but too much has happened emotionally.
She tries to think about what he needs. What would he want? She isn't used to this side of Deeks. She's used to him smoothing everything over with a joke. But this isn't something you can joke about. There isn't anything that happened in that old building that can be taken lightly.
Knowing what he would do if it were her, she turns on her blinker and switches lanes. An hour later, she finds herself outside of his apartment. One meat lover's supreme pizza and a six pack of beer in either hand.
She tries balancing the beer between her arm and her body as she knocks on the door. When no one answers, she knocks again, this time calling his name, letting him know it's her.
She starts to get angry when he still won't answer. She had seen his car in the parking lot; she knows he has to be home. Grabbing hold of the beer again, she starts kicking the bottom of the door with her boot, ignoring the fact that his neighbors could be home. "Deeks, open the freaking door!"
She almost drops the pizza when she hears his voice come from behind her. "Well isn't this nice."
"What?" she asks, turning to see him with Monty, a leash wrapped loosely around his wrist.
"A beautiful woman with beer and a big ass pizza trying to kick in my door. I'd say that's a good way to end a day." He smiles again, and this one's closer to how it should be.
"Well, this beautiful woman was getting ready to kick your ass." She steps aside as he unlocks the door, pushing it inwards and stepping back so she can enter first.
"I took Monty for a walk." He tosses the leash on the coffee table before grabbing a ball and tossing it towards the dog.
She hands him the pizza as she sits on the couch. Opening a beer, she watches as Monty brings the ball back, waiting for his owner to throw it again. "You spoil that dog."
"If you had a dog, you'd spoil him too."
"Now why would I want a dog when I've already got you?"
"Oh, Agent Blye's going for the win, ladies and gentlemen."
She gives him a quick smirk before taking a sip of her beer. He leans back on the couch, taking the biggest slice of pizza and opening a beer of his own. He's halfway through with his first piece of pizza before either of them speak. He keeps his eyes fixed on the large grease stain on the bottom of the pizza box, "So, did you want to talk or watch TV?" he asks.
He almost laughs when he turns to see Kensi taking a large bite out of her second slice of pizza, shrugging and answering around a mouth full of pepperoni and sausage. He assumes the muffled sound that escaped her mouth was intended to be 'whatever you want', so he takes the remote and turns on the TV.
Both are happy to pretend for now that the day hadn't ended badly. Both are happy to put off the rest of the feelings and emotions that they know are bottled up. Tomorrow they can deal with it all. Because right now, it's a give and take situation. You give what you should, and you take what you can.
They're trying to give each other a way to move past what they had seen happening to those two boys. They're trying to cope with the fact that they watched two boys, barely teenagers, bleed to death in the middle of nowhere. Two boys whose names they still don't know.
Right now, they're taking advantage of the opportunity to relax without worry. Because right now they don't have to talk about what had happened. They can wait until tomorrow.
Tomorrow he'll ask her if she's okay before she has a chance to ask him. He'll pretend that he hadn't gotten emotional, and he'll pretend not to notice everyone else pretending the same thing.
Tomorrow she'll ease her frustration at the shooting range, do overtime in the gym. She'll ignore the looks of concern the rest of the team will give her and her partner, and only acknowledge that either of them had acted out of the ordinary when Hetty asks, which Kensi knows she will.
But right now, Kensi and Deeks sit in comfortable silence, watching reality TV, each making fun of the other's reaction to the overly melodramatic ramblings of would-be stars.
It's almost midnight before they finally decide to turn off the TV. Looking at the empty beer bottles, Deeks turns and sees his partner yawn, her eyes taking a second longer than they should to open back up.
"Kens, you good to get home?"
She looks at the remains of their dinner spread out along the coffee table. She gives a tight-lipped smile before asking, "Any chance I can crash here?"
She regrets it almost immediately. His grin is back, his eyes lighting up with the possibilities.
He leans his head back, slowly nodding as the grin stays in place. "Well, I guess I should have expected this."
"What do you mean?" she asks, preparing herself for where she knows he's about to go.
"I mean we did shower together, it's only natural that you'd want…"
"Deeks, stop right there."
"That's it. I'm going home." She moves to get off the couch, grabbing for her discarded shoes when he reaches for her arm.
"Wait, Kensi. I'm stopping. Stopping now." He holds his hands up in defense, but the grin is still there.
He stands and gives her a spare pillow and blanket. Raising his eyebrows suggestively, he smirks, saying, "You know, I've got a big bed…"
"Sometimes you say my name with the same venom as you would a four-letter word."
She just grins as she unfolds the blanket. "Goodnight, Deeks."
She's glad he's back, happy that he's capable of being himself. That means she can be herself again.
It's a give and take situation, a give and take partnership. They each give all they can, and expect the other to take it. Neither expects anything less.