and here we are - at journey's end...
In the darkest of times, there is still a faint glimmer of hope.

Part IV: Heart of the World.

It is morning and there is just enough light in the bedroom to clothe everything in the faintest shades of day. It seems like time has stopped completely and that there is no other reality than that encompassed within these four walls, and centred upon this bed. Kensi lets her fingers slip slowly over Deeks' chest, which is highlighted perfectly in the pale pearlescent light that is trickling lazily through a gap in the curtains. She indulges herself completely, savouring the pleasure of tracing each muscle individually with a feather-light touch, exploring his body with a new sense of wonder: for now it feels as if he belongs to her.

Deeks is soundly asleep; there is a smile curving his lips as he lies with one arm around her, and he is holding her so close it seems as if he will never let her go. That suits Kensi perfectly, she can think of nothing more perfect, so she is content to lie in his embrace, to lie with her head cradled into his shoulder and her legs entwined with his. The nearness of him, the physical closeness she has craved for so long is finally made real, and Kensi rejoices in this new day made real. If this isn't heaven, then it is the nearest you can hope to achieve on earth, she thinks and wishes it would never end.

Kensi cannot recall a time when she felt so loved, so safe or so content. It is worth it, she realises. All these months, all that anguish – it has all been worth it, because now she has this moment. And perhaps the waiting achieved something, because last night was incredible, with all the pent-up longing finally being unleashed like a whirlwind, so that they were both completely subsumed in the moment. Nobody has ever made love to her like Deeks. And now, just lying here as day starts to break, she feels serene and fulfilled, as if this was always meant to be; as if her whole life has merely been a prelude to this one moment in time. As she watches him sleep, Deeks wrinkles his nose briefly, and Kensi smiles, knowing that sign, and knowing that he too is happy. She could lie here forever, in Deeks' arms and looking at him and never grow bored.

So, if this was it – if this is the one night they were destined to spend together, at least it was a great night, a night of miracles that saw their bodies fitting seamlessly together, moving as one, pulling each other up and chasing towards release, then falling back breathlessly, only to begin over again. Such great heights they reached together, proving to Kensi that their partnership is real and tangible, that they are meant to be together. It was definitely been a night to remember and she will never forget it. Already the memory is encased in a crystalline shell that will protect it, keep it pure and safe and just as perfect as the night itself was.

And yet Kensi cannot shake a lingering feeling of sadness as she acknowledges that one night is never going to be enough. She feels that this should only be the prelude to much greater things and is conscious that they have only just begun to truly know one another. There is so much to discover, so many things to do together, were there but time enough. Overriding this is the inescapable fact that Kensi knows she is not ready to give Deeks up. This should be the beginning, not the end. There has to be more – because she needs more. She wants to shatter the protective casing she has erected around last night, to destroy it in order to build upon their union, to once more experience what joy truly is and rediscover how two people can become one entity, in both body and soul.

"If I knew then what I know now, then I would have jumped on you the first day we met," Kensi whispers to the silent room. She could have had so much more: more time with Deeks and more time to love him and be loved in return. Why has she wasted all these months?

"I always knew you were stuck on me," Deeks mumbles sleepily, opening one eye and then smiling at the sight of Kensi lying sprawled across his body.

This just feels so right, he thinks. It feels like it was always meant to be. Deeks wants another thousand mornings like this, and then another thousand on top of that and so on until the last syllable of recorded time. This should be the beginning of something great, not the end. Last night was incredible, but it has left him hungry for more. One night with Kensi can never be enough when what he needs is a lifetime with her. He doesn't want it to end like this. No, that's wrong. It is completely and utterly wrong. Deeks doesn't want it to ever end.

Kensi makes a mental note to punch both Sam and Callen for telling tales out of class. "I was not. Well, maybe I was smitten. Just a little bit. What about you?"

"What about me?" He rolls over and looks her quizzically, loving the way the early morning seeping in through the curtains highlights her skin, looking into her eyes and thinking that he can see tomorrow in their depths. Or is he just dreaming? It seems like a dream, because reality has never been this great.

"What did you think? When we first met, I mean." Kensi knows what she thinks right now: that this is the way she loves him best: sleep-rumpled in the early morning, his lean body looking good enough to eat and that light of mischief in his eyes, as if he is planning something – or is that just wishful thinking on her part? Kensi lets her fingers tangle briefly in his hair before running them slowly down his bicep and watches in satisfaction as Deeks hitches in his breath before he gathers his composure.

"I thought you were incredibly hot," he admits, with total honesty. Every moment of that encounter is as fresh and sharp as if it is just a blink away. The past is so close, just dancing tantalisingly out of reach. He can never forget the way Kensi looked that day, far less the way she looked at him. "I still do. And I also think my shirt looked a whole lot better on you last night than it ever did on me." Deeks reaches down, finds the offending garment and waves it in the air. "Did you miss me that much that you wanted to keep it?"

"You knew?" Kensi is laughing with him, knowing she has been rumbled and not minding one bit.

"I spotted you were wearing it the moment I walked in here last night. Along with the fact you weren't wearing a bra." Like he wouldn't notice something like that. And how incredible is it that now Kensi was lying here beside him, not wearing anything at all? It is hard to believe this is real, that he is actually in bed with Kensi, and after a night filled with passion as well. Today is a good day, Deeks thinks. Today is very possibly the best day ever. Today feels like it is the start of something… or is he reading too much into things? They are lying here, joking around, as if last night never happened. But it did. They crossed a line last night, and no matter what talk there was of one night only, things can never be the same. There is no going back, it is impossible to rewind time and take back all those words gasped out in delirious passion. And Deeks doesn't want it to end. Not like this. Not now and not ever. He wants to hear her cry out his name again, to feel her tighten all around him. He wants to be with her, because he can't imagine life without Kensi.

"I'd just got out of bed," Kensi protests. "And I wasn't exactly thinking straight." Deeks has this effect on her, she realises. It's hard to concentrate on anything when Deeks is lying naked beside her, the sheet pulled low on his hips. All she can think of is the all-pervading thought that she just needs him now – and forever.

Deeks realises that this means Kensi was wearing his shirt in bed, and wonders if that means what he thinks it might – or if he is just reading too much into something that means nothing. Only he can't stop hoping. Is there a chance that they might be on the threshold of something greater? Or was last night a "once and forever" occasion? He hopes this is just the begining, hopes with every fibre of his being, because he's not ready to give Kensi up yet. He wants to hold onto this moment forever - and yet he also wants to go forward, to build on it - to maybe even build a future together. In an instant Deeks has a moment of total clarity - he has everything he's ever wanted right here and just within his grasp. All he has to do is just to reach out to her.

"And here you are – back in bed. With me." Only this time she isn't wearing anything at all, and if Kensi looked great in his t-shirt, she looks a thousand times better in nothing at all. He moves a little closer, so that their bodies are touching from shoulders to hips and feels the instinctive way Kensi moves so that once again they are interlocking and she is covering him with her body – her perfect body, so strong and supple and yet so soft and welcoming.

"Here I am," she agrees. "And here you are."

Their eyes meet and mutual understanding sparks unspoken between them as Kensi and Deeks discover that they are once more in complete agreement and know exactly what they want. They are right here, exactly where they belong and there is no longer anything between them, except understanding. There are no alternatives any more, no choices – just the overwhelming need to be together and to stay together. Kensi reaches out a hand that still wears a golden wedding band and watches as it glistens in the early morning sun before letting her fingers caress his face, while the other hands roves downward, leaving a trail of anticipation in its wake. Just the slightest touch of her fingers is enough to rouse him again.

"Here we are," Deeks says happily. As far as he is concerned, they can stay here forever. "Exactly where we're meant to be." He's thankful it's the weekend and they can spend all day in bed.

What started off as a chance encounter in a gym has turned into something much more. Their partnership has grown and developed into something much richer, infinitely deeper and more meaningful. A one-night stand is never going to be enough. The world is not enough – but Deeks thinks this a good place to start, right here in this bed. All the rest will fall into place somehow.

"What are we going to do tomorrow?" Kensi asks later on that afternoon. She can finally allow herself to consider the possibilities of the future, now that she knows that future will definitely include Deeks.

Deeks just shakes his head in response. "Don't ask that. Let's just say that tomorrow never comes. But we do have today, and the day after, and the day after that. And we can do anything we want. So we're sure to work something out, at some point." There is no point in worrying about things, because he wants to savour each moment as it comes.

"You really don't care, do you?" Kensi wonders why he isn't taking this more seriously. They can't stay here forever, tempting as the prospect is. At some point real life will have to resume, and she needs to know what is going to happen.

"On the contrary. I care. I care a lot. Want me to show you how much?"

"Yes please." It was impossible for Kensi to say anything else, given the things his fingers are doing to her body and the way the way she is reacting to his touch. All other thoughts are driven away, washed clean by his love. "I just need you now," she adds breathlessly.

Deeks buries his face in her hair and starts to kiss her neck, unerringly finding the spot that makes Kensi shoot half-way to the stars. "I need you forever."

With that statement he says all that Kensi needs to know. She feels the same sense of relief that a lost sailor experiences when a harbour light shines out in the darkness to guide him home, because now she knows that nothing else matters, as long as you travel not only with hope, but with a soul-mate. Finally, after standing still for so long, she is going forward – and she is going forward with Deeks into a future they will build together. And in the meantime, they have an ocean of experiences to explore: infinite and deep; ebbing and flowing and pulling them along. Sometimes you have to trust in a higher power, throw caution to the winds and just go where the tides take you, knowing that far above the stars continue in their timeless pattern, having seen empires rise and empires fall, knowing all the while that only love endures forever and can never be tarnished, neither by time nor by tide.

So it's complicated, Kensi thinks, once her mind is finally to work properly once again and process coherent thoughts. She lies back and stares up at the ceiling, vaguely comprehending that the sky outside is darkening. "Complicated is good," she declares firmly.

Deeks shoots her a confused look. "Did I miss something back there?"

"Oh no, not a single thing. I think you've been very thorough." She has never been loved like this, not ever.

"Are you sure?" He trails his fingers slowly down her leg and Kensi feels her body starting to tingle with anticipation. "I don't think I've kissed you right here." He bends his head and proceeds to remedy the situation. "Or here."

"I do love a man who pays attention to detail."

"Kensi?" The teasing note is entirely absent from Deeks' voice. "It's going to be okay. We're going to be okay. You do know that, don't you?"

He wants to take things slowly, so that they can get to know one another properly, and to be able to explore every nuance of one another: mind, body and soul. Deeks wants to live in the present, because the present is so damned perfect it feels like he's high on life. He refuses to admit any impediments, because as long as they are together, then they can beat the world.

Kensi feels that her entire body is suffused with happiness. They are no longer two individuals, but part of a greater whole. Nothing can spoil this, she realises. Together they are golden and no-one can touch them, far less tear them apart. At last Kensi has discovered the power to change her life and she will take that knowledge and go forward, with Deeks at her side. Together they can do anything.

"I know," she replies, and conviction colours each syllable. "We're going to be just fine."

She believes that wholeheartedly. There are nno barriers any longer and all that once lay between them has vanished. On the contrary, everything lies ahead, just beckoning them onward into tomorrow. Together they can climb mountains – if they want to. They can climb so high that the stars will fall down around their feet, just waiting to be gathered up and strung into garlands of bright light. But right now she is perfectly content just to let Deeks take her to heights she has never even dreamt could exist. Such great heights… Kensi realises she has everything she needs right here, because she has Deeks. It is as simple as that. All they have to do now is to hold on to the love they are making and let it weave around them in an invisible chain, binding them together for eternity. Nothing else could ever matter quite as much as simply being together at last. All the rest is just a series of inconsequential details, and they have their whole lives stretching out ahead, full of infinite promises. They have a lifetime to spend together, and their journey together is only beginning. Anything can happen – anything is possible, because in this crazy, confused world they have fought through the turmoil to find the one thing that really matters and which can last forever.

Never doubt that one night can make a difference, or that it can change your whole world completely and bring you out of the shadows into the full brilliant light of day. This day is almost at an end and the sun is starting to sink down towards the se,a so that the room is full of long evening shadows as two people find their universe has just expanded and that there are no horizons anymore, just a world of infinite promise. At last Kensi and Deeks know that anything is possible, just as long as they hold onto their dreams, have the courage to listen to their hearts and, most of all to always remember that tonever let go of the one you love. And with that knowledge, the world can be anything they want it to be: bright, golden and true and moreover, they can live like heroes.


because we all need to able to dream sometimes.