A/N: This story was written for my sister, who is obsessed with all things Deeks. She (knowing my love for a challenge) asked me to write a story involving Deeks and Eric. Since she doesn't like things to be simple, she told me I had to mention a time machine, cloning, and a fortune cookie. (She got the idea from a Criminal Minds forum challenge, CCOAC). Needless to say, this is the result.

"Allow me to introduce myself. Hi, I'm the Voice of Reason, and you must be Denial, a close cousin of Stupid." Deeks sits up, extending his right hand in an overly sarcastic gesture.

Eric just stares at the hand before letting his head fall back against his arms. "I'm not stupid. And I'm not in denial, at least no more than you are."

Deeks lets his hand fall as he stands to look down the desolate highway, hopeful to see a car. When nothing but the sight of a never-ending road meets his eyes, he sits back down in the driver's seat. "I'm not in denial. I'm fully aware that Kensi and I are…complicated. But you, you my good man are in complete denial."

It's been over three hours since smoke started billowing out from beneath the hood of Kensi's car. It's been three hours since Eric had called in, telling Hetty that they were broken down and would need someone to come and pick them up. It's been three hours since the two of them have been waiting, bored out of their minds with nothing to do but talk.

At first it had been okay—a little light banter keeping their minds off the fact that it would be at least two hours before someone could manage to come and get them. However, as the minutes passed and the heat increased, both men began to find their patience wearing thin.

Somehow, between talking about movies, video games, and surfing, they had gotten on the topic of Kensi, which inevitably led to Nell. Now, as Eric stretches his legs out along the length of the immobile car's back seat, he regrets having ever broached the subject.

He had intended to coax Deeks into talking about his and Kensi's infamous 'thing'. However, as soon as Eric stepped outside the realm of Kensi and Deeks as anything more than partners, Deeks had fired back with questions concerning Nell. More specifically, why Eric has yet to make a move.

As a small breeze blows through the opened doors, Eric kicks off his shoes before continuing the argument. "Deeks, there is no 'thing' with me and Nell. We're just us, just partners. We're not like you and Kensi."

"You and I aren't as different as you think, and I bet Nell can pack one hell of a punch. She's like a dangerous little pixie. A pocket-sized Kensi."

"A pocket-sized Kensi?"

"That's intended to be a compliment." Deeks defends, as he sits up to look down the road again. "But it'd probably be better if you didn't tell either of them I said that."

Eric just laughs, "Are you seriously planning on either of them finding out this conversation ever took place?"

It's Deeks turn to laugh as he props his feet against the opened door, wishing the wind would break up the stifling heat. "No, I'm not. I like to push Kensi's buttons, but I don't want to be the one she's pissed at."

Eric squints his eyes as the clouds shift, letting more of the sun's light break through the steadily clearing sky. "What do you think she'll do when she learns about her car?"

"I'm hoping Hetty's already told her, that way if we ever make it back, she'll have had enough time to calm down."

"Or, it could just give her more time to think of ways to punish you."

"You're not one of those glass half full kinda guys are you, Eric?"

"I like to think of myself as a realist. But seriously, are you even a little worried that she'll blame you for killing her car?"

"First of all, I didn't kill her car. The obscenely relentless and unforgiving California sun and desert heat tag teamed to annihilate her car, and I trust you to back me up on that. But the more I think about it, I am a little worried. Mainly because I've come to learn that Kensi has a tendency to take her frustrations out on your groin, and not in a good way."

"I'm not even gonna ask," Eric states as he stares at the ceiling of Kensi's car. The sound of Deeks' light laughter is cut off by the unmistakable sound of Eric's stomach growling.

"What are the odds that who ever Hetty sends to pick us up will bring food?"

"Not good, but Kensi's probably got some kind of snack hidden in this thing." He starts digging through the car's console, searching for some trace of edible food.

"Kensi's not really a clean freak is she?" Eric asks as he pulls the remains of a fortune cookie out from beneath the front seat. Deeks turns to see the demolished cookie contained in a clear, wrinkled wrapper with a small white paper crumpled amongst the crumbs. "Dibs on the fortune."

Eric quickly scoots to the other side of the car, effectively moving the cookie and its fortune out of Deeks' reach. "I found it, I get it."

"Eric, I don't think that's how dibs works."

"No, but it is how 'finders, keepers' works."

"Now, you're just sounding like a thief. Technically, it's Kensi's fortune, and since she's my partner…"

"Come on, that's not…you know what? I'm not gonna fight over a stupid fortune." Eric opens up the wrapper and pulls out the small piece of paper. He hands the fortune to Deeks before dumping the crumbs into his mouth.

Deeks laughs as he watches Eric choke on the crumbs, his mouth too dry to properly chew. Looking down at the small paper, he grins as he reads the fortune out loud. "That special someone loves to see the look in your eyes" He leans to hand the fortune back to Eric, "My bad, I guess this was yours after all."

Eric gives Deeks an icy glare as he dusts fallen crumbs from the front of his shirt. "Nell and I aren't like that. I've already told you."

"Fine, you don't have a 'thing', but will you at least admit you want one?" Deeks tilts his head, giving a small smile as he tries to coax Eric into admitting what they both already know.

Eric just shakes his head as he lies back down. "It doesn't matter anyway."

"Ah ha! I am so taking that as a 'yes'!" Deeks exclaims as he turns back towards the front of the car.

Both men sit waiting for time to speed up as a sleepy silence settles over the car. Deeks almost jumps out of his skin when he hears an unexpected "Hey Hetty," disrupt the silence. Turning his head towards the back seat, Deeks strains his ears to listen for the muffled sound of a strictly composed voice coming from the phone's speaker.

"Yeah, I understand. I was just checkin'. Thanks." Eric ends the call, letting the phone fall to his stomach before exhaling an exasperated breath. "She says they should be here within an hour. Apparently, they had a late start," Eric says, answering Deeks' unasked question.

Deeks just climbs out of the car, stretching his stiff muscles. "Any word on food?" he asks as he watches Eric rub at his tired eyes.

"Didn't ask," was his only response.

Realizing that they aren't about to be rescued within the immediate future, Deeks takes the opportunity to stray from the car, walking the short distance necessary to gain some sense of privacy in the open desert.

He glances once more towards the car before turning and working to unbuckle his belt. He had tried to ignore the fact that his bladder had been screaming in protest for the last half-hour. He felt himself make a sound that was half between a laugh and a heart-felt sigh of relief once he had finally managed to ease the pain caused by two large mugs of green tea.

Making certain his zipper isn't open, he turns and heads back towards the car, kicking rocks and sending small clouds of red dirt into the air. He pulls at the fabric of his shirt, trying to create a desperately needed breeze against his skin, attempting to ignore the sweat sliding down his back.

He opens the door and immediately starts searching for the small, black makeup bag Kensi keeps stored between the seats. The first time he had stumbled upon the 'feminine survival kit', he and Kensi had been on a stakeout. In response to what he had felt was a light-hearted, and funny joke, she had decided to ignore him, or more precisely, pretend as though he wasn't even in the car.

In an attempt to force her to forfeit the decidedly juvenile game, he had begun snooping through all of her stuff: the gym bag in the back seat, her glove compartment, her dwindling candy stash (which almost got her to break), and the pockets of her jacket. She had done an excellent job of keeping her eyes forward, biting the tip of her thumb while he loudly narrated on every item he uncovered.

It wasn't until she heard the sound of a small zipper and a mockingly surprised "Oh, so you are a girl," that she turned her head to acknowledge that he was still present. She had quickly snatched the bag from him, zipped it back closed, and replaced it between the seat and the center console.

He had spent the next twenty minutes commenting on her reaction. Though he didn't get a chance to sort through the bag completely, he had enough time to see that it held a small packet of moist-hand towelettes and hand sanitizer.

He quickly removes the two items from the bag before tossing it unceremoniously into the passenger seat. After he cleans his hands, he pulls out another towelette. As he rubs the cool cloth along the back of his neck, he turns his head, noticing Eric staring at him questioningly.

"What? It's hot," he explains as he picks up the small pouch and offers it to Eric. Eric simply takes one of the offered towelettes, uttering a sarcastic, "It's the desert," as he mirrors Deeks' actions.

Eric leans his head against the headrest, checking his phone to see that less than ten minutes has passed since he had last called Hetty. "Deeks, what else is in that bag?" he asks, his curiosity being pushed by his boredom, absently hoping the bag contains something that would help pass the time.

Deeks laughs as he puts the hand sanitizer and towelettes back in Kensi's feminine survival kit. "Not anything we'd have use of." When he sees the look of confusion on Eric's face, he reaches into the bag and pulls out one of the few tampons, eliciting a light blush from the other man.

Deeks just laughs again as he returns the bag to its hiding spot. "Alright Eric. Truth or Dare time."

"I hate that game. The whole point is humiliation."

"No, the whole point is to have fun, and get a good laugh."

"At the expense of someone else," Eric answers as he climbs back into the front seat.

"Semantics," Deeks retorts as he pops his knuckles, "So truth or dare?"

Eric holds up a hand, stopping Deeks' smile from spreading. "I'll play but we have to set ground rules first."

"You're bound and determined not to make this fun aren't you? Fine, rules. Lay 'em on me."

"You can't ask me questions about Nell, and I won't ask about Kensi." Its Eric's turn to laugh when a look of disappointment crosses Deeks' face.

"Fine," Deeks answers.

"Fine? Just like that?"

"Yep. BUT if you lie when you pick truth, or you back out of a dare, I get to ask about Nell."

Eric raises an eyebrow, thinking it over. "Deal, but the same goes for you."

Deeks smiles, clearly happy. "So Mr. Beal, truth or dare?"

Eric looks out the window, trying to imagine exactly what Deeks can make him do when they're out in the middle of nowhere. "Dare."

He knows immediately it was the wrong choice. Deeks' smile only widens as he leans back in the seat smugly. "I dare you to kiss Nell."

"That's against the rules…"

"No. No, you said I couldn't ask questions about Nell. This isn't a question, it's a dare."

"Fine ask a question about her then."

"You're really committed to this whole denial thing aren't you, Eric?"

"Is that your question?"

"No," Deeks lets his smile fade, looking seriously at Eric, "Do you have feelings for her, even slightly?"

Eric's shoulders drop as he looks back out the window. After taking a deep breath, he closes his eyes and answers, "I like her, okay?"

"Good to know. And I promise it'll never leave this car."

Eric turns and looks at Deeks, giving him a look that clearly screams, 'yeah, right."

"What, you think I'd lie to you?" Deeks asks, acting as though he's insulted.

"You specialize in undercover operations and liaison with a secret government task force. Deeks you lie for a living."

Deeks smiles, "I lie to bad guys. I wouldn't lie to you."

"So, what's the deal with you and Kensi?" Eric asks, trying to get even.

Deeks takes another glance towards the empty highway as he asks, "You're not even going to let me pick between truth or dare?"

"Do you want 'dare' then?" Eric asks, already knowing the answer.

"Does Hetty know you're this manipulative?" Deeks smiles, letting Eric know he's not serious. "We're just partners. Really good partners. We haven't really moved past that."

Eric slowly nods, having already known this. "Do you want it to move past that?"

Deeks just arches his brow as he looks at Eric. Eric laughs as he holds up a hand, "I know, stupid question."

"Yeah, stupid question," Deeks agrees. "So, my turn. Craziest girl you've ever been with; when and why?"

Relieved that they're finally moving on from the topic of Nell and Kensi, Eric tries and thinks through the handful of girls he'd been involved with. "At Comic-Con, when I …"

"How did I know it would involve Comic-Con?"

"Shut up, Deeks. At Comic-Con , when I was eighteen, there was this girl who, honest to God, thought she was Mystique."

"As in Mystique, the incredibly hot bad-ass from the X-men—that Mystique?"

Eric smiles at the look of disbelief on Deeks face, "She actually looked like her, too." Eric lets his eyes drift towards the horizon again, not really taking in anything he's seeing as he thinks over the memory. "It was the highlight of my senior year."

Deeks watches as Eric continues to stare out of the window. "I don't believe you," he says after trying and failing to imagine a teenaged Eric getting with a real-life version of the sexy villain.

"I've got pictures. The moment we get back, I'll prove it."

The determination in Eric's voice leaves Deeks with no choice but to temporarily believe him. "Alright, I see your delusional freaky-blue mutant and raise you one evil scientist on a mission to prove governmental conspiracies."

Deeks grins in triumph when he sees the combination of awe and confusion fight for control in the look Eric gives him. "Evil scientist? Seriously, Deeks?"

"I was in law school, and I had to write up a mock dissertation focusing on ethics in medicine and other areas of science dealing with human and animal applications. She was a grad student in bio-medical engineering and she was completely off her rocker. I had to interview her."

"You're gonna have to give more detail than that, Deeks, because right now, I'm still winning."

"Only because I haven't finished, yet. Turns out, although her area of study was bio-medical engineering, she still paid a lot of attention to genetics—specifically, cloning."

Eric holds up a hand, stopping Deeks from continuing, "Do not tell me this girl was trying to clone people in some secret lab, because I'm gonna call you on that."

"No, she never tried to clone people. She was against cloning, but convinced the government possessed the ability to. She had a group of friends that went around investigating rumors of conspiracies all over the place. Think of Scooby-Doo meets the MythBusters, meets A Beautiful Mind."

After several seconds of thinking it over, Eric finally states, "For some reason, I believe you."

"As you should. I told you, I wouldn't lie to you." The next half-hour is spent asking questions, each taking a turn telling one another embarrassing stories from when they were younger, comparing the stupidest things they've ever done, and listing the things they want to do and wish they would have done. Essentially, they were getting to know one another.

"So, how much trouble did you get into?" Deeks asks after hearing Eric explain how he had attempted to disassemble his dad's car in order to build a time machine after watching "Back to the Future".

"Probably not as much as I would have if my mom hadn't been there. Needless to say, I couldn't sit down for a few days."

Deeks just shakes his head and laughs, trying not to think of what his dad would have done to him had he tried to modify the family car. "Something tells me that when Kensi sees me again, I'm gonna know how you felt," Deeks muses as he remembers the sight of smoke pouring out from beneath the silver hood.

"Desert and sun annihilated the car, remember? I've got your back," Eric assures him. "Although, if we had a time machine, I would go back and stop myself from ever getting in this thing with you. No matter what Hetty said."

"Like you'd disobey Hetty."

"Well, since time machines aren't real and the rules and logic of time travel would have prevented me from stopping myself from doing something I've already done, I guess we'll never find out."

Deeks takes in the somewhat serious look on Eric's face and wants to laugh. "Don't you think it's weird that even though time travel isn't possible, there are still 'time travel rules'?"

Eric looks as though he's about to answer, but stops when he notices a small, dark object moving on the horizon of the once abandoned highway. "Thank you, Hetty," he mutters as he climbs out of the car to get a better look.

As the vehicle gets closer, Deeks can tell that it's not a car he recognizes, and the feeling of hope he had momentarily felt begins to disappear. He glances back towards Eric, recognizing the other man's slight frown as confirmation that the approaching vehicle isn't one they'd been expecting.

Two minutes pass in silence as Deeks and Eric wait for the mystery car to approach. Deeks laughs in relief when the large, blue van gets close enough for him to recognize the driver.

Sam pulls the van alongside the broken down Cadillac, grinning from ear to ear. "Need a lift?" he jokes as he rolls down the window, allowing Deeks and Eric to feel the coolness of the air escaping the air conditioned van.

Deeks smiles as he looks towards Eric. "What do you say, Eric? Want to accept a ride from the scary man in the van?"

In almost no time at all, Sam's driving them home, Kensi's car being pulled by a trailer attached to the back of the van, Eric passed out asleep in the back seat, and Deeks barely awake as he leans his head against the window.

Sam looks over at Deeks grinning as he says, "You know Kensi's gonna kill you, right?"

"Nah, she loves me too much," Deeks retorts, matching Sam's grin.

Sam simply refocuses his attention on the road ahead. "Maybe, but I'm pretty sure she loves that car more."

"We'll find out when we get home," Deeks says as he finally closes his eyes. Sam just laughs as he listens to the soft snores from the two men slowly fall in sync.

Please review. (Reviews are the only reason I actually post stories instead of storing them away in my overcrowded hard drive.)