Title: Stolen Moments
Timeline: Throughout 3x22: Neighborhood Watch.
Summary: All the little moments we didn't get to see in Neighborhood Watch. Should span about 10 chapters.
A/N: Credit for this idea goes to the fabulously awesome Shawn - my friend, I think you may have created a monster here. ;)
Ocean blue eyes hungrily take in the grandeur of the house before them as Kensi pulls into the driveway, slowly bringing the car to a halt. "Our humble abode – not so humble," Deeks quips. "I can't believe we're getting paid to live here for three weeks."
Kensi rolls her eyes. "We're not getting paid to live here for three weeks."
"Essentially we are." Deeks grins. "And you'd better believe I am going to make the most of every last second of it." He glances to Kensi, his grin widening at the slight disapproval in her eyes. "Oh, relax, Fern. I remember why we're here."
"Do you? Because I'm really wondering."
Deeks smirks. "See? This is what I mean when I say you need to lighten up a bit." She shoots a glare at him, but as usual, Deeks is unaffected. He might've been scared of them when their partnership first began, but now her threats just roll right off of him. She doesn't mean them…at least, not most of the time. "You forget that I worked undercover for years before I met you," he reminds her. "If you don't find something in it that you can enjoy, you'll burn out on it real quick. You can do your job and still have fun."
"Problem is, with you, that usually translates to: I can do our job while you have fun."
He flashes her his best playful grin. "Hey, whatever works, right? That's what I call a great partnership."
"Yeah," Kensi snorts. "You would."
"Hey, don't act like you're not excited that we've finally found some bad guys who know how to live it up." Deeks leans back, clasping his hands behind his head. "We usually get the seedy bars, the trailer parks, the back alley drug deals. It's not often that our covers live life in the lap of luxury."
"And here I thought you enjoyed the less glamorous ops," Kensi teases, shifting slightly toward him. "Especially the ones that leave you living for days under the pier, fighting the elements. Thought you said those ops built character."
He smirks. "They do. This…well, it builds character I'm much more familiar with."
He turns his gaze to her again, his gorgeous blues dancing with amusement. "Don't pout, sugar," he quips, using the first of many terms of endearment he plans to use in their time together. And he's got a vast library of those. He wonders briefly just how many he can toss her way before she's threatening him with divorce papers. Just the thought amuses him – he does love getting under her skin. And for the length of their stay her, he knows he's mostly safe from reprimand. Melissa, after all, adores Justin.
Deeks snickers internally. He thinks he might have to remind Kensi of that fact a time or two. "You're just upset that our little slice of heaven here," he says, gesturing toward the house, "doesn't come with housekeeping. You might actually have to learn what a vacuum cleaner is."
Kensi scoffs. "I know what a vacuum cleaner is."
"But do you know how to use one?" Kensi opens her mouth to retort, but Deeks doesn't give her a chance. "Or a washer and dryer? I bet you buy new clothes when things get dirty."
"Just because I don't like to clean doesn't mean I'm incapable of it," she huffs.
"You sure about that?" Deeks asks with a straight face. "Because I wonder. I seriously wonder. I think you've forgotten how many times I've seen the inside of your place."
"You just haven't seen it on cleaning day."
"Cleaning day. Let me guess – happens with the same frequency as Halley's Comet?" He shakes his head and chuckles quietly. "Thank God we've got my dashing looks and charm to save this marriage because otherwise…"
He lets the end of that sentence trail into silence, satisfied with the lifted brow it elicits from his partner. Deeks flashes her a grin that's just filled with teasing charm. "Now come on, doll – don't look at me like that. You love me."
"Still having trouble mixing love and loathe, I see," she quips.
"I think you're the one mixing them up," Deeks shoots back effortlessly. "You wouldn't have married someone you loathe."
"Arranged marriage. I didn't have much of a choice."
"You didn't want a choice."
She chuckles. "You can think that if it makes you feel better." With that, she releases her seatbelt and reaches for the door handle. "Come on. We didn't fight all that traffic just to sit in our driveway all day long."
But before she can open her door, Deeks reaches out and loosely curls his fingers around her other wrist. "Wait," he says quietly. She stops, but it's less in response to his quiet command, and more to do with the rampant spark of electricity that flickers through her body. It's gone as quickly as it had come, though, and she shrugs it off – surely she'd just imagined it.
He doesn't speak again immediately, and Kensi furrows her brow, a bit of confusion bubbling up within her. He'd been all for this assignment – she knows it's been awhile since he's gone under for any significant amount of time; knows he misses it. But as he sits besides her now, noticeably biting at the inside of his cheek, she can't help but wonder what's going through his mind now. "What is it?"
His blue eyes lock with hers, sending a chill rushing down Kensi's spine. He's gone completely serious on her, a complete one-eighty in less than thirty seconds. She's seen Deeks' serious side before, but not often enough that she's used to it – now, just as it usually does, it unsettles her just a bit. Sometimes, it even scares her. "Deeks."
"You know that once we get out of this car, we're Justin and Melissa, right?" he asks quietly.
Kensi's eyes dart to their hands as he – absently, she thinks – begins stroking the top of her hand with the pad of his thumb. "Of course I do," she replies a bit warily. She's not entirely sure where he's going with this, and as she tears her eyes away from their hands and back to his clear blues, she notes immediately that there's a complete lack of challenge in his eyes. He's not challenging her to prove something; he's not questioning her skills. What he is doing…well, Kensi can't quite figure that out.
He nods slightly at her answer. "You know we have to leave us behind, right?" Deeks pauses. "You have to leave Kensi behind."
It's a reflex, and possibly a rather harsh one at that, but at his words, Kensi can't help but tug her hand from his grasp and cross her arms over her chest instead. "What are you saying, Deeks? You're going to have to be more clear than that."
The corners of his lips twitch slightly with amusement. "Relax, Kens," he says quietly. Silently he reflects on the fact that this might be the last time for three weeks that he's able to use her name outside of a couple of pre-scheduled check-ins at Ops – which he thinks may be more for Kensi's benefit than his, as it's not an arrangement Deeks is comfortable with.
He's done long-term cover before, but never with built-in chances to break that cover. That, he knows, just makes it harder to let go of your true identity and fully become the alias. And beyond that, he knows this isn't something Kensi's particularly excited about.
She'd made that quite clear, after all, when Hetty had presented them with this assignment. Melissa is nothing like Kensi. And Deeks knows that, at this point at least, there's nothing about Melissa and Justin's happily married life that Kensi herself wants.
And that just makes it all the more difficult for her to leave her identity behind.
There's also the issue of safety, too, and Deeks would be lying if he said he hadn't put a great deal of thought into that. For now, locked within the confines of their NCIS-provided rental car (which he's got to admit is a hell of a lot nicer than any transportation LAPD ever provided him with), they're safe. They can still talk freely, for now. But once they go inside the house; once they let the car out of their sight, he knows they can no longer assume that. The next time they get in the car, whether to go grocery shopping or anywhere else, they have to assume that it's been bugged.
After all, it's the first thing he'd done on a past undercover op with LAPD: make sure to get eyes and ears on any new kids on the block. So Deeks sure isn't going to put that past whichever of their neighbors are involved in this sleeper cell.
He smirks inwardly. Kensi might think he's playing around, losing sight of the investigation in favor of taking a vacation while they're here, but the truth is that he's wrapped his brain around every last detail of this assignment. He knows he can be Justin. He's just not sure that Kensi can get beyond playing Melissa and actually be Melissa. "I'm just saying that I know you've never really done this before," Deeks answers after a moment. Even as he speaks, he swears he can see the walls continue to go up around her. "It's not a cover story that we've pulled out of thin air, like we usually do. It's a real alias, with real backstopping. We have to go all in."
"And you think I can't."
"Not at all," Deeks replies immediately. "I'm just saying that…sometimes, it can be easy to slip, and we can't afford that. We don't know what we're walking into – it would have been too suspicious to have the place swept," he points out. "Could be bugs, cameras, heat sensors…we just don't know." He grins. "You heard Hetty. We have to be at the top of our game at all times."
Kensi gives a nonchalant shrug, but Deeks can see in her eyes that she's not truly so unaffected. "Are you saying I don't always bring my A-game?"
Deeks smirks and plays along, rather than push her. "Well, let's just say that, compared with my A-game, your A-game is like a C-game."
His insinuations bother her a bit more than she's willing to let on. But rather than ruminate on it, she closes down and throws open her door, effectively bursting their current bubble, ending their final few moments as Kensi and Deeks, as partners. "You can bring that A-game of yours around to the trunk," she demands as Deeks follows her lead, "and get started carrying my suitcases inside." Kensi hesitates for a moment, but then grins as she punctuates her words with a sugary sweet endearment. "Babe."
Deeks groans as she opens the trunk. "Oh dear God. Really?" He glances from her to the contents of the trunk and back again. "You packed for like three years."
Kensi just shrugs, giving him a look of utmost innocence. "Variety, honey," she simpers. "Girl's gotta have some choice in her wardrobe."
"I give it ten minutes before this is all strewn across our bedroom floor," Deeks mutters, lifting the first rather heavy suitcase from the trunk and setting it on the ground.
Gripping his upper arm, Kensi gives it a would-be reassuring squeeze. "Well, looks like you've got this all under control!" she says brightly, flashing him a dazzling smile as she jingles her keys in her hand. "I'm going to go take a look around while you bring everything up."
Deeks laughs quietly, shaking his head. "Of course you are."
Telling herself it's all part of her cover, Kensi pushes herself to her toes and leans in, planting a quick, fleeting kiss to her partner's scruffy cheek. "Remember to lift with your knees, sweetheart."
And then with a playful wink, she's making her way toward the front door, leaving Deeks staring in amusement after her. "Sure my wife wouldn't rather I carry her over the threshold instead?" he calls out with a smirk.
He's not surprised that he doesn't get a reply.
She's sitting on the side of the bed thinking later that evening when Deeks flops down beside her on his stomach, a satisfied grin on his lips. The scent of chlorine tickles her nose and, combined with the dampness of his messy blonde hair, Kensi knows most of his late afternoon exploring has taken place in the rather large pool out back. "You know," he says, stretching leisurely, "I think I could get used to living here."
Kensi smirks, but every retort that touches her lips is one she knows she can't utter, because the man beside her isn't Deeks, her partner. It's Justin, her husband, and it takes her a moment to find a reply that works. "You going to make yourself useful while we're here or are you going to be floating in the pool the whole time? If you remember, Uncle Mark is paying us to housesit, not lounge around for three weeks."
Deeks snorts. "We just got here, sugar bear," he teases. "We've got three weeks to stay busy. Tonight…well," he pauses and stretches again, letting out a low hum of satisfaction. "Tonight I plan to count all the reasons why I clearly married into the right family," he quips, folding his arms beneath his head.
Kensi sighs softly and slowly lays back next to him. The change in position brings them face to face, and Deeks can easily see the amusement in her dark eyes as she replies. "I think I'm a bit insulted by that."
He slips easily into the role of her husband – something Kensi finds herself a bit unsettled by. "Well, I certainly didn't marry you for your prowess in the kitchen, princess," he smirks, draping an arm lazily across her stomach.
She laughs softly, turning her eyes to the ceiling above. "You married me because no other woman can stand you."
"That's right. You're powerless against my charm." He grins, knowing without even looking that she's rolling her eyes. "You finish unpacking yet?"
Kensi nods slowly, letting out a relaxed sigh. "I left you a drawer."
Deeks snorts. "You left me a drawer. How kind of you. Your generosity is sexy, you know that?" Knowing he's pushing boundaries, he tightens his arm around her waist and pulls her closer to him.
And that...well, it's a bit too much for her. It's not necessarily the arm around her waist or the warmth of his breath against her cheek; it's not necessarily the fact that they're essentially cuddled together now on the bed. Instead, it's…her. It's the flutter of heat in her belly; it's the contrasting chill that races to the farthest parts of her body. It's the comfort and the coziness and the fact that this feels a million times nicer than she knows it should. It's the fact that, despite trying, her feelings for him are something she can't give a name to.
How in the world is she supposed to make it through three full weeks of this?
Rules, she thinks as she extricates herself from his grasp and sits up. They need rules.
"Mel?" he questions sleepily. He rolls onto his back, watching her as she stands from the bed – he doesn't have long to watch though because before he can even wonder what she's doing, she's grabbing his hand and yanking him upright. And then she's pulling him – rather roughly, if he's honest – into the bathroom.
He's a bit confused when she shuts the door and quickly crosses to the tub. Within seconds, it's filling with torrents of hot water from the faucet, and Deeks is about to make some quip about her not even lasting a day in this marriage without giving in to her desperate need to have him when she crosses back over to him, stopping right in front of him.
She draws in a deep breath as steam from the tub begins to rise in the air around them, and then cautiously she lifts her hands, laying her palms gently on his hips. Deeks lifts a brow as his confusion grows, but everything quickly makes sense as soon as she speaks, her words a quiet whisper that's only barely audible over the spray of water. "We need to set some ground rules."
A smirk tugs at his lips as he takes full advantage of the moment – they don't know what, if any, kind of surveillance may be on the house, so they can't take any chances. This quick moment of broken cover is a great risk, even with the water to drown out their voices – it's not a risk they can take often. He plays along with her all too eagerly, though; looping his own arms around her, he draws her against his chest and lowers his head, playfully nuzzling at her temple as he whispers his reply. "Ground rules?"
Her immediate reaction to his sudden embrace is to tense in his arms. It takes a moment before she's able to force herself to relax; it's difficult, with the way her heart suddenly pounds almost angrily against her chest. Even more so with the fact that now, so close to him, she can't breathe at all without falling victim to the mingling scents of chlorine and cologne and Deeks. It dizzies her, and Kensi squeezes her eyes shut, trying to focus on the sound of running water instead of his scent and the strength of his arms around her. She knows he's caught onto her plan here, but that doesn't make it feel any less real.
Swallowing hard, she nuzzles into his chest, knowing it will further muffle her words to any outside ears. "Ground rules," she repeats. "Starting with keeping the pet names at a minimum."
"Mm, but Melissa likes the pet names," he breathes.
Kensi ignores him and carries on. "No unnecessary touching. Of me, or my stuff." She lets out a deep breath as he gently begins to stroke her back, no doubt in response to said rule. She doesn't stop him, though; in fact, she finds it comforting. Far too comforting – and that simply fuels the fire behind the last of her rules. "And you will sleep on the couch."
Deeks tears that one to shreds immediately. "Not a chance," he murmurs, his lips brushing her ear. It sends a shock through Kensi's body, one she's not able to contain, and she knows, just knows that Deeks feels her tremble in his arms. "You pull me into the bathroom and turn on the water to hide this conversation in case we're bugged, but you somehow think it won't be noticeable if we're not sleeping in the same bed?"
He's got her there and he knows it even as he continues. "These aren't kindergarten criminals," he continues, his voice lower than before – so quiet, in fact, that Kensi has to strain her ears in order to hear it at all. "They mean business, and if we give them even the smallest thing to be suspicious about…our cover is useless."
Kensi doesn't reply, and for a moment there's nothing but silence between them until he speaks again, his usual playfulness back in his voice. "I think you just don't want me to find out that you're a cuddler."
She can't punch him, and stepping on his foot would do no good in her slippers, so Kensi goes for the next best thing. She snakes a hand into his still damp hair, tightly twisting her fingers within the strands. And then she tugs.
It's not hard enough to really hurt, but it's also not gentle enough that Deeks can suppress a reaction. He gives a quiet yelp and Kensi can't help but smirk. "You're lucky I can't hit you," she points out.
"Domestic assault, much?" he quips, releasing her and lifting his own hand to the back of his head. "Ouch."
"Keep it up and it's going to be homicide," she warns good-naturedly.
Rubbing at his head, Deeks just smirks. "Crime of passion, huh? I like it."
It takes everything she has not to punch him in the arm. Instead, she just grabs his wrist again and pulls him toward the door with a smirk at her lips. "Get out. I'm taking a bubble bath."
"Without your husband?"
"Yes. Without my husband." She opens the door and pushes him playfully back into the bedroom. "Now go."
Deeks grins. "What, you don't want me to wash your back? Amaze you with my killer loofah skills as I work all the kinks out of your body?"
Kensi gives a theatrical shudder. "Please don't ever say that again.
He laughs. "Fine. You enjoy your lonely bubble bath, then," Deeks teases as she shuts the door. "But you know, if you…want me, I'll just be out here…all by myself…on the bed…imagining!"
Deeks isn't totally sure, but he thinks he hears the faint click of the lock at that. Snickering to himself, he flops down on the right side of the bed and closes his eyes, Kensi's words replaying in his mind.
Ground rules? Yeah right.
He's so going to enjoy the next three weeks.
And if he has his way, so will Kensi.
to be continued